Delivered By: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Thank you Madam Chair, and I’d like to begin also by thanking Albania and the United States for organizing this Arria-formula meeting today on a topic that is both timely and decisive for our future societies. I also welcome the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania and reaffirm our excellent cooperation in the field of cybersecurity. And I’d like to also thank the briefers for their really insightful presentations today.
Our use and dependence on information and communication technologies – including artificial intelligence – continues to grow. Opportunities to make our societies more intelligent and sustainable have expanded, but so too have the risks associated with these new technologies.
The UAE would like to make two points on this topic today.
First, as others have said, at the state level, the use of cyber technologies should be firmly guided by international law and the principle of responsible state behaviour, and international law continues to apply in cyberspace. That means that the UN Charter, sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs of another state, state responsibility, and the laws of armed conflict must continue to be respected.
To ensure this, member states should work to develop further norms and mechanisms that uphold and maintain these laws as these technologies develop.
This discussion has been far outpaced by the rapid developments in cyber capabilities and threats globally and we must close the normative gaps. We would see value in considering an accountability framework in relation to cyberattacks, including guidance on best practices on public statements of attribution of attack.
Second, the proliferation of tools that enable non-state actors to conduct attacks requires increased attention.
These tools are vulnerable to exploitation, for example, by terrorists aiming to radicalize and recruit.
In recent years, we have seen government databases hacked and threats to critical infrastructure risking the security of entire populations and systems. We’ve also seen a striking rise in blackmail threatening the most sensitive data of individuals stored online. All possible avenues to combat such threats should be considered, including strengthening public-private partnerships, investing in capacity-building of relevant state institutions, and fully utilizing all the tools available to the Security Council.
In the UAE, we’ve had our own experience of this. We’ve recently been attacked by various non-state actors, including terrorist groups in the form of DDoS, Ransomware, and phishing campaigns. It not only affected the financial sector, but it also caused some disruption in other critical infrastructures such as government services and health.
The private sector is well positioned to share best practices in detecting transnational threats. Technical assistance, intelligence-sharing, as appropriate, and training programs could enable even more effective responses.
And in contrast to these threats that we’ve been talking about here today, we all know that when wielded correctly, new technologies also offer new ways to prevent and counter terrorist threats, such as the detection and removal of online terrorist content.
So in the UAE, we believe that responsible development of new technologies is key to our future. Our motto for applying and developing Artificial Intelligence specifically is the B.R.A.I.N. acronym – ‘Building a Responsible Artificial Intelligence Nation’. Cyberspace should be a public good, something safe and beneficial for all.
The UAE appointed the first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence back in 2017, and that same year we launched our AI Strategy, including an ethics toolkit. Since then, we have been exploring avenues to use A.I. machine learning to assist with pattern detection, to be able to track the adverse effects of things such as climate change and water depletion. We’re committed to driving a society-wide digital transformation through innovation, entrepreneurship, and digital startups, and as we move towards the transformation to a digital society, we need to further protect our future infrastructure, our economies, and our citizens from malicious cyber threats.
To conclude, the responsibility to mitigate the related risks of new technologies rests with all of us. That includes both those public and private actors at the forefront of developing new technologies and the members of the Security Council, and we need more multi-stakeholder engagement to create this shared vision for new technologies. We welcome recent efforts by UNESCO and others to consider ethical guardrails by developing global standards or codes of conduct for A.I. These agreed upon standards would help us to manage the risks of reproducing the real-world biases and discrimination that fuel divisions online as well.
The UAE will continue to work with the rest of the international community to advance responsible behavior in cyberspace.