Skip to Content

Comisión 1: Desarme y seguridad internacional

TOPIC: Developments in the field of information and telecommunication in the context of international security.

General Aspects

Information and communications technologies (ICTs) provide immense opportunities and continue to grow in importance for the international community. However, there are disturbing trends that create risks to international peace and security. Effective cooperation among States is essential to reduce those risks.

The hostile use of telecommunication, with the declared or undercover purpose of subverting the juridical and political systems of States, is a violation of the internationally recognized norms in this regard, which effects may generate tensions and unfavorable to international peace and security situations.

Pertinence of the Topic

Nowadays cyber-attacks are becoming a reality that affects millions of people, companies and countries affected gravely in several cases; data network safety is a vital importance topic for internet users that spend many hours of the week surfing in the Network.

In this regard, the past activities of the First Committee include international concerns of nuclear nonproliferation, chemical and biological weapons and weapons of mass destruction. Further, the disarmament of outer space and prevention of a space arms race has been addressed by the First Committee, as well as issues involving regional security and terrorism. The Disarmament and International Security might contribute through the search of innovative mechanisms that regulate the addressing of information and telecommunications technologies to avoid its misuse in offensive or harmful to international security activities.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs)

The term information and communication technologies have two significances: in one hand, is often used to refer to any way of use of computers. In the other hand, as the name of a major program, is used to refer to the preparation that students have to satisfy their needs of computer  and governments communication, social security, schools and any other types of organizations technologies.

The development of Internet has provoked that information is now in many places. In the past, the information was concentrated, transmitted by the family, teachers, and books. School and university were the spaces in which knowledge was concentrated. Currently, those barriers had been broken and with the Internet information is more accessible. The main issue is the quality of this information. Also, the contact among people with social and business ends has been improved. There’s no need to displace in order to close business in different cities of the world r to make transactions anywhere with a simple click. Many politicians have their blog or videos in YouTube, making clear that ICT in forty years –specially last decade- had modified many aspects of life.

Discussion of the topic in the United Nations System

The issue of information security has been on the UN agenda since the Russian Federation in 1998 first introduced a draft resolution in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly. It was adopted without a vote (A/RES/53/70). Since that time there have been annual reports by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly with the views of UN Member States on the issue- In addition there have been four Groups of Governmental Experts (GGEs) that have examined the existing and potential threats from the cyber-sphere and possible cooperative measures to address them.

 

The first 15-member Group was established in 2004 but did not agree on a substantive report. A procedural report of the Group’s work was published as UN document A/60/202. Disagreement among the experts emerged primarily over the question of the impact of developments in information and communications technologies (ICTs) on national security and military affairs. The second disagreement was over whether the discussion should address issues of information content or if it should focus only on information infrastructure.

 

The second 15-member Group was established in 2009. A successful GGE report was issued in 2010 (A/65/201). It recommended the following in its report:

 

-  Dialogue on norms for State use of ICTs to reduce risk and protect critical infrastructure;

-  Confidence-building and risk-reduction measures, including discussion of ICTs in conflict;

-  Information exchanges on national legislation and ICT security strategies; and

-  Capacity-building in less-developed countries.

 

The new GGE, with 20 experts, held four meetings between July 2014 and June 2015. Experts from the following Member States participated in the GGE: Belarus, Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Spain, United Kingdom and United States of America. Mr. Carlos Luís Dantas Coutinho Perez (Brazil) chaired the Group.

The Group agreed on a substantive consensus report in June 2015 (A/70/174) on norms, rules or principles of the responsible behavior of States in the cyber-sphere as well as confidence building measures, international cooperation and capacity building which could have wider application to all States. It also addresses how International Law applies to the use of information and communications technologies and also makes recommendations for future work. It was presented to the First Committee of the General Assembly in October of that year.

In his foreword to the report, The Secretary-General notes:

“Few technologies have been as powerful as information and communications technologies (ICTs) in reshaping economies, societies and international relations. Cyberspace touches every aspect of our lives. The benefits are enormous, but these do not come without risk. Making cyberspace stable and secure can only be achieved through international cooperation, and the foundation of this cooperation must be international law and the principles of the UN Charter…Our efforts in this realm must uphold the global commitment to foster an open, safe and peaceful Internet. In that spirit, I commend this Report to the General Assembly and to a wide global audience as a crucial contribution to the vital effort to secure the ICT environment.”

On 23 December 2015, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted resolution 70/237 which welcomed the outcome of the 2014/2015 GGE and requested the Secretary-General to establish a new GGE that would report to the General Assembly in 2017. It held its first meeting in New York in August 2016.

The 2015 Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security examined existing and potential threats arising from the use of ICTs by States and considered actions to address them, including norms, rules, principles and confidence-building measures. In addition, the Group examined how international law applies to the use of ICTs by States. Building on the work of previous Groups, the present Group made important progress in those areas.

The present report significantly expands the discussion of norms. The Group recommended that States cooperate to prevent harmful ICT practices and should not knowingly allow their territory to be used for internationally wrongful acts using ICT. It called for the increased exchange of information and assistance to prosecute terrorist and criminal use of ICTs. In doing so, the Group emphasized that States should guarantee full respect for human rights, including privacy and freedom of expression.

One important recommendation was that a State should not conduct or knowingly support ICT activity that intentionally damages or otherwise impairs the use and operation of critical infrastructure. States should also take appropriate measures to protect their critical infrastructure from ICT threats. States should not harm the information systems of the authorized emergency response teams of another State or use those teams to engage in malicious international activity. States should encourage the responsible reporting of ICT vulnerabilities and take reasonable steps to ensure the integrity of the supply chain and prevent the proliferation of malicious ICT tools, techniques or harmful hidden functions.


The Group emphasized the importance of international law, the Charter of the United Nations and the principle of sovereignty as the basis for increased security in the use of ICTs by States. While recognizing the need for further study, the Group noted the inherent right of States to take measures consistent with international law and as recognized in the Charter. The Group also noted the established international legal principles, including, where applicable, the principles of humanity, necessity, proportionality and distinction.

One of the few points all countries seem to have accepted is the general need for international cooperation and collaboration for the purposes of global information security. With the definition of the latter still open, the scope and nature of cooperation is still to be defined.

Elements of study:

·         Information and communication technologies (ICTs)

·         Group of Governmental Experts

·         Cyber-sphere

·         International Security

Documents to consult

United Nations Charter

General Assembly Resolutions

A/RES/53/70

A/RES/68/243

A/RES/70/237

Recommended websites

www.un.org

 

KEY AREA: Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementationof agreementson disarmament and arms control.

 

General Aspects

Along this century, international pressure for achieving a world in peace and harmony and the transformation of the world political balance, after the end of the Cold War, propitiated in great measure, the arrangement of transcendental multilateral agreements, many of which were sponsored by the UN.

With these initiatives, close to the middle of the decade of the nineties, the whole south hemisphere was turning into a great nuclear weapons free zone, thus reducing the risks of nuclear proliferation in the world.

This phenomenon has a substantial impact in the preservation of the environment since military activities have always had severe repercussions on the environment. Previously, the environmental damage for these activities was limited only to the battlefield, although the indirect effects could reach bigger zones.

Though, when speaking about nuclear weapons, the effects would be absolutely devastating, since the damages caused by the radioactive precipitations on wide zones, the ozone exhaustion because the nitrous oxides of the nuclear explosions and the climate changes produced by the smoke of big and prolonged fires would affect severely the biggest part of the planet.

Pertinence of the Topic

Environmental problems, today, have a global dimension, i.e. it involves the whole planet, for its characterization it is permanently spoken about its general contamination, that affects all ecosystems, having as a result its deterioration and with the pass of time its destruction, that is directly related with human beings, their lifestyles and the way they develop their economic, social, political and cultural activities, and the procedures that they use to exploit the natural resources for the welfare of human life in the planet.

In this regard, the past activities of the First Committee include international concerns of nuclear nonproliferation, chemical and biological weapons and weapons of mass destruction. Further, the disarmament of outer space and prevention of a space arms race has been addressed by the First Committee, as well as issues involving regional security and terrorism. The Disarmament and International Security might contribute through the search of innovative mechanisms that regulate the observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control.

Environmental norms

Environmental norms are legal dispositions that establish, as the result of the agreement of various sectors of the society, which are the levels of contaminating substances that will be considered acceptable and safe for the human being and environment health. These norms are environmental management tools to solve environment issues.

Disarmament and arms control

Disarmament and arms control is a term that describes the gradual process of elimination and/or limitation of the production, distribution, stockpiling, transfer and use of armament.

Both terms (so much disarmament as arms control) are part of the same language code, that describes the method that the International Community carries on their effort to control and reduce the armaments since late XIX Century. Moreover, this term use to be understood as a direct reference to the international efforts for peace and security, respectively. The Hay Conference in 1899 and 1907 are the oldest background of disarmament and arms control given in the multilateral scale. The so-called Merida Initiative between Mexico and the United States is an example of a bilateral agreement that foresees the disarticulation and disarmaments of organized delinquency.

Discussion of the topic in the United Nations System

This topic was first included on the disarmament agenda in 1995. Colombia, acting on behalf Movement of Non-Aligned Countries (NAM), introduced a draft resolution entitled “Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control” at the First Committee of the General Assembly on 8 November 1995.

The resolution, 50/70 M (page 18), was adopted by the General Assembly on 12 December 1995 by a recorded vote of 157 in favor, 4 against and with 2 abstentions. The resolution invited the Conference on Disarmament to take every necessary measure to include in negotiating treaties and agreements on disarmament and arms limitation the corresponding environmental norms, with a view to ensuring that the process of implementation of such treaties and agreements is environmentally sound, in particular the destruction of weapons covered by them. The resolution also put particular emphasis on the need to ensure that the environment is protected in the process of implementing Chemical Weapons Convention destruction activities. Subsequent resolutions placed emphasis on radiological weapons and radiological waste and called for environmentally sound measures to be adopted in association with any activities in Antarctica, the seabed and outer space.

In 1997, the General Assembly adopted resolution 52/38 E (page 7) on the same subject but this resolution also included a call to Member States to communicate to the Secretary-General information on the measures they have adopted to promote the objectives envisaged in the resolution, and requested the Secretary-General to submit a report to the General Assembly at its 53rd session (1998). Three countries responded (Cuba, Mexico and Viet Nam). The Secretary-General has issued an annual report on this issue since 1998.

The draft resolution is adopted every year without a vote, and states are invited to send reports to the Secretary General on measures implemented and progress. Looking at the reports sent in the past decade, the range of states and reports varies widely year on year, with between three and 11 being sent and 26 states engaging (Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Panama, Portugal, Qatar, Serbia, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine and the UAE). Only Cuba reports annually.

Elements of study:

·         First Committee

·         Environment

·         Disarmament and arms control

·         Chemical Weapons

·         Wastes

Documents to consult:

·         United Nations Charter

Recent resolutions of the General Assembly

·         A/RES/70/30 — 2015

·         A/RES/69/55— 2014

·         A/RES/68/36— 2013

·         A/RES/67/37— 2012

·         A/RES/66/31— 2011

·         A/RES/65/53— 2010

Recents reports of the Secretary-General

·         A/70/155 — 2015

·         A/69/115— 2014

·         A/68/118& A/68/118/Add.1— 2013

·         A/67/130— 2012

·         A/66/97& A/66/97/Add.1— 2011

·         A/65/125— 2010

Recommended websites

·         www.un.org

·         www.unep.org