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Cyber threats will present an ever greater number of risks to international peace and security: UK statement at the UN Security Council

I will touch on three trends of importance to the UK.

First, as we’ve heard, ransomware can disrupt government functions and the provision of vital public services. This creates conditions for instability when occurring at scale or for sustained periods which, as this Council knows, can impact peace and security. Any state can be a victim of ransomware. This is why an international response is needed to constrict the ecosystem facilitating it and to enable all states to increase their resilience and their response capability. The UK is playing a leading role alongside Singapore as co-chairs of the policy pillar of the Counter Ransomware Initiative. We urge others to join the initiative.

Second, as the use of AI systems in our societies grows, we need to understand how cyber threats will change, whilst identifying opportunities for AI to support our cybersecurity goals. Malicious and irresponsible actors can exploit vulnerabilities in AI systems to induce specific behaviour or manipulate its decision-making. Maintenance of international peace will require AI systems to be secure by design. That is why the UK held the first ever Council debate on AI in our presidency last year, and it’s why we published “Guidelines for Secure AI System Development” alongside the United States and a cross-regional group of eighteen states. 

Third, malicious and irresponsible actors are also able to take advantage of the growing market in advanced cyber intrusion capabilities, leading to a more unpredictable threat landscape for us all. The UK and France invite international partners to join us in the multistakeholder Pall Mall Process as we consider approaches towards this shared concern.

In that context, we must continue to raise awareness of cyber threats. We are, for example, very concerned by DPRK’s use of malicious cyber activities to obtain cryptocurrencies to fund their illegal weapons programme. This is why we need to redouble our efforts to ensure effective implementation of the DPRK sanctions regime. 

And finally, cyber advances also increase the risks of disinformation. This is clearly a major challenge for our work. For Russia to accuse the UK of running a disinformation war is astonishing when their own disinformation machine has been so obviously and clearly exposed, including here at the UN. We were not the delegation who brought to the chamber and to the internet the conspiracy of weaponized bats and ducks. President, cyber threats will present an ever greater number of risks to international peace and security and governments need to evolve to address them effectively. 

As part of this, the UK remains committed to upholding the UN Framework for Responsible State Behaviour and to working with others through capacity-building and enabling public-private partnerships.

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