Thank you, Mr. President,
Allow me at the outset, take this opportunity to thank the Permanent Missions of Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates for cosponsoring this timely Arria Formula meeting.
I would like also to thank the presenters for their very insightful briefings.
This meeting is also timely as we discovered how vital new and emerging technologies prove essential for navigating through this terrible health crisis and its consensus. However, these new these technologies and the revolution they are ushering in in spheres of our lives involves new challenges for countries but also multilateral actors such as the Security Council, and the United Nations at large, regarding the governance of their use and the impact they may have on the maintenance of peace and security.
As we are trying to redefine what a multilateral world post covid will look like, one area that can lead to greater cooperation is indeed that of emerging technologies. Their impact in achieving the sustainable development goals, especially for areas prone to conflicts, climate change, food insecurity and forth, is immense. Gene editing technology can make seed resistant to the effect of climate change, while advances in aerial imagery can make issues such as desertification, deforestation, and attacks on civilians easier to document.
Beyond these practical usage, emerging technologies care also beneficial in prevention but also to peacekeeping operations and post conflict reconstruction. As mentioned by the Secretary General, “technology can play a central role in supporting the UN’s endeavor to prevent conflict.” This can be done through data and intelligence gathering to develop patterns and models to prevent, monitor human rights abuses or cease-fire violations, or with unmanned aerial vehicles to track migration movements and non-state armed groups.
Furthermore, as Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration is a core component of any successful post conflict recovery, these new technologies can be used to trace weapons back to country of origins and manufacturers, stop arms proliferations, and bring suppliers and dealers to the knowledge of the international community.
While, emerging technologies offer great dividend in the maintenance of peace and security, we must not loose sight that they also present enormous challenges which, if not addressed, can be sources of conflict and other major disruptions. In majority of cases, technological innovation is taking place beyond the purview of government and outpacing our ability to keep good track of the latest developments and their potential societal impacts, as mentioned by experts. The open-source character of some of these technologies and their availability in the internet allows for non-sate actors, such as terrorists networks to make use of these for warfare, with cyber-attacks, and other potential biotechnological attacks, but also as surveillance and propaganda tools.
With that in mind, we need to have a holistic governance approach where emerging technologies are used to amplify human capabilities, rather than replace them and one that incorporate political, legal economic, and security solutions.
This can only be done first and foremost through multilateral engagement.
Firstly, as such my delegation would like to encourage further engagement by all states with the United Nations, and all the relevant specialized working bodies, in furthering these discussions with the aim of reinforcing or developing new mechanisms of engagement that are fair equitable, and respectful of international laws and international humanitarian law.
Secondly, this holistic approach should also focus on bridging the digital divide especially with the continent of Africa. The restrictions resulting from the current pandemic, while allowing for other countries to function, have put yet another layer of constraints on African countries, isolating them economically. Just as we have warned for the vaccine, this can be a major hurdle toward the full socio-economic post pandemic recovery of the continent. We must therefore ensure that any multilateral efforts also include adequately addressing this urgent issue, through the sharing and transfer of know-how in areas such as healthcare, education, transportation, energy, and agriculture.
Finally, as these emerging technologies are undoubtedly leading our societies into uncharted territories, we must make room for full transparency and accountability. The mechanisms that we develop through our national but also international and multilateral systems, should allow for an ethical use of and oversight of technological companies and industry, as doing so will only further legitimize their use in our societies.
I thank you