Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security

Developments in information and communications technologies (ICTs) have implications for all three pillars of the United Nations’ work: peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. ICTs and global connectivity have been a catalyst for human progress and development, transforming societies and economies, and expanding opportunities for cooperation for the common good of humankind. 

However, harmful ICT incidents are increasing in frequency, precision and sophistication, and are constantly evolving and diversifying. Increasing reliance on ICTs makes  societies more vulnerable to malicious ICT activities. Despite the invaluable benefits of ICTs for humanity, their malicious use can have significant and far-reaching negative impacts. Even as technological advances may offer new development opportunities, they may also expand these digital environments to new malicious activities.

Member States are increasingly concerned about the malicious use of ICTs and the threats it poses to the maintenance of international peace and security, human rights, economic development and ultimately the safety and wellbeing of individuals through the disruption of essential services to the public including but not limited to medical facilities, energy, water, transportation and sanitation. Additional concerns have been raised about the malicious use of ICTs to undermine trust and confidence in political and electoral processes. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the risks and consequences of malicious activities that seek to exploit vulnerabilities through disinformation campaigns in times when societies are under enormous strain.

Some non-State actors have demonstrated ICT capabilities previously only available to States that have increased concerns that these capabilities could be used for terrorist or criminal purposes.  No State is protected from these threats.

The imperative of building and maintaining trust and security in the digital environment has never been so clear. The First Committee will focus on identifying existing and potential threats in the sphere of information security and the measures Member States need to take to address them. While States are responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, all stakeholders have a responsibility to use ICTs in a manner that does not endanger peace and security as well as a common interest in establishing a peaceful and secure ICT environment.  In addition to implementing cooperative measures between Member States, they must strengthen collaboration with civil society, the private sector, academia and the technical community.