Statement by H.E. Ms. Rabab Fatima, Ambassador & Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations at the Arria-formula Meeting on the Impact of Emerging Technologies on International Peace and Security, 17 May 2021

Mr. President,

I thank the Permanent Missions of China, Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa, and the UAE for organizing this event. I also thank the briefers for their valuable insights on this important topic.

Human history is replete with new innovations and rapid technological change. Yet the emerging technologies led by the 4IR are significantly different. They have seen more controversies than ever before due to their dual use nature – both constructive and destructive.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore many positive feats of emerging technologies. The seamless digital services, AIs, robotics, unmanned aircrafts, and big data have helped us ensure business continuity, and in containing the virus. These technologies are now helping our efforts towards a sustainable recovery and getting back on track to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. But there are also concerns of loss of jobs, possible breach of confidentiality, theft of information, human rights violations, etc. The prospects of terrorists and other non-state actors obtaining access to these technologies are also real. The Secretary General’s latest report on “current development of science and technology and international peace and security” manifests the multifaceted risks associated with emerging technologies.

It is, therefore, imperative to make these technologies safe, secure, and peaceful for the present and future generations. We must harness their full potentials to contribute towards global peace and prosperity and deter any harmful impacts on international peace and security.

Let me share some specific thoughts in this regard:

First, the UN must continue its norm-setting role in emerging technology frontier. We appreciate the SG’s Agenda for Disarmament and Roadmap for Digital Cooperation for identifying the challenges of emerging technologies in legal, humanitarian, and ethical domains; as well as non-proliferation; international stability; and peace and security realms. It is imperative to continue to make progress in these areas through relevant resolutions and existing platforms such as the OEWG for cyber security and GGE for cyber security and LAWS[1] etc.

Second, the emerging technologies come with a high risk of a new wave of digital divides between developed and developing countries. The advanced economies and big MNCs must relegate traditional cost-benefit analysis and come up with new dispensations for facilitating the transfer of technology, knowledge, and experiences across societies. International support is essential to build the capacity of the developing countries to reap the benefits of 4IR, as it is important to prepare them to tackle the associated challenges in the areas of labour market disruptions, increased inequalities etc.

Third, we must prevent the malicious use of emerging technologies like AI, synthetic biology, UAVs by terrorists or other non-State actors. The proliferations of dark web-based communications have enhanced the risk manifold. Already, we have seen infodemics in cyber space amid the pandemic, which led to the spate of socio-political polarization, spread of radical ideologies etc. We must enhance multi-stakeholder partnerships to combat such growing threats, especially the use of cyber space for harmful purposes and to spread hate and hostility.

Fourth, the UN peace operations have benefitted from technologies like unmanned aerial vehicles (UUAVs) to implement their increasingly complex mandates, including the protection of civilians. There are further opportunities to tap into the potentials of emerging technologies for more effective early warning system to prevent conflict, and in building and sustaining peace in conflict affected areas.

Finally, we need genuine multi-stakeholder approach for achieving a secure, rules-based, and responsible policy, legal, and governance framework for emerging technologies. It is critically important to bridge the gaps between governments, the private sectors, scientific community, and other stakeholders in this regard.

We appreciate the Secretary General’s effort in 2018 to engage with scientists and policy makers to identify responsible innovations of science and technology for mitigating risks. We need to integrate this notion as a part of existing and future global, regional, and sub-regional cooperation frameworks for emerging technologies. National regulations can also work as critical building blocks towards that end.

I thank you, Mr. President.