General Assembly Security Council

Mr. President,

    Thank you for organizing this open debate on an issue of increasing significance in an interconnected world. We also appreciate the informative and thoughtful briefings. 

Mr. President,

2.    Increasingly the ideas, industries, markets, resources, services and products we share are interconnected in ways like never before. Increasingly, from the way we trade to the way we invest; the way we travel to the way we eat; indeed the way we think to the way we live - all in some way or the other depend on a spread of complex and sensitive networks. These interconnections that underpin the provision of essential societal functions have created a new form of vulnerability, giving terrorists the chance to threaten targets that would perhaps otherwise have been unassailable.

3.    Such threats serve the purpose of creating disruption on a scale far beyond the immediate area of attack. They affect the population on a much broader scale. They force the multiple stakeholders providing basic services to be on constant guard. Thus, they not only add to the stress on these stakeholders and their societies but also raise the cost of services provided. 

4.    Big urban centres like Mumbai, New York and London have become targets as impact on cities serving as financial hubs affect the economy of the country in multiple ways. The investigations into the heinous terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008 revealed the impact its perpetrators wanted to have on the psyche and economy of the whole of India. These attacks, including on a hospital, railway station and hotels were carefully planned and crafted from beyond our borders to have crippling effects not only on daily life in a bustling metropolis but targeted a country of a billion people. 

5.    Protection of critical infrastructure is primarily a national responsibility. However, given that much of our technologies and base templates for systems around the world are similar, threats of attacks on an international stock exchange, a major dam, a nuclear power plant, possible sabotaging of oil/gas pipelines, air safety systems of airports, or potential blocking of an international canal or straits have much wider implications and pursuant complications far beyond national frontiers.

Mr. President,

6.    Many recent terrorist attacks have revealed that access to Information & Communication Technologies (ICTs) and in some cases their manipulation was an important enabler. The global nature of information and communication technologies raises the necessity for an international vision and coordination on policy aspects with the aim of enhancing capabilities.

7.    Despite years of concern, states have addressed few international instruments addressing issues of threats from cyberspace. Current international law is not well positioned to support responses to cyber attacks.

•    Security Council decisions that impose binding counter-terrorism duties do not mention cyber attacks. 

•    In terms of new treaty law, Member States have been negotiating the proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism since the latter half of the 1990s, a period corresponding to the rise of worries against terrorist cyber attacks. The offence defined in the draft text is perhaps broad enough to be applicable to cyber attacks. However, the possibility of terrorist cyber attacks has not catalyzed negotiations even after 20 years. 

8.    Today's debate is an opportunity to ask ourselves if we can work out our differences in the face of concerns regarding ICT related threats to critical infrastructure or will it require a cataclysmic event to foster greater international collaboration to protect critical infrastructure from terrorist cyber attacks? 

•    Since we can discern the threat and there is understandable global angst, can we look at options for strengthening international law against terrorist cyber attacks?


•    If we are not willing to negotiate a treaty on terrorist cyber attacks, can we at least start by clarification of the applicability of certain anti-terrorism treaties to terrorist cyber attacks?   


•    In this Chamber last month, there was a crescendo of support for a preventive approach.  Are we ready for a collaborative preventive approach to address terrorist cyber attacks against critical infrastructure?

Mr. President,

9.    Collaboration is key to moving the perimeter you defend from your front door to the edge of your neighbourhood. Critical infrastructure protection from terrorist cyber attacks requires a 'global neighbourhood watch program' because, as they say, there is safety in numbers. Any effective collaboration requires trust. And currently, there is a trust deficit. The lesson from the past is that, international law on terrorism has largely developed through states reacting to terrorist violence.  We hope this is not the case again and the resolution adopted earlier today is a first small step in an area where much more needs to be done.

Thank you.