I would like to thank the briefers for their very interesting statements. I also thank the United States for facilitating this important discussion within the Security Council.
Over the last year the Council has - in different formats - engaged in discussions on technology and security: from the Arria-formula meeting on emerging technology and security held in May last year by the Chinese Mission; to the open debate in June, when cyber security was put on the agenda of the Council for the first time by Estonia.
This is a timely continuation of those discussions. Emerging and evolving digital technologies present great opportunities in a number of areas. Indeed, without digital technology, the Security Council itself would not have been able to function during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, digital technologies may also raise concerns and challenges. And when used for malicious purposes, there is no doubt that they can pose a threat to international peace and security. Today’s discussion is therefore at the core of the mandate and responsibility of this Council.
Digital technologies are brought about and used not only by States. This underlines the importance of cooperation between States and other stakeholders. We need to cooperate with all those who develop and use technologies, including with academia, and non-governmental organizations. Only by working together can we make sure that new technologies help us move forward in a direction that benefits us all. And the United Nations forms an important global platform for such interaction.
The misuse of digital technologies can impact peace and security globally. For example, through internet shutdowns or the massive spread of disinformation. Norway is concerned that evolving misuse in the digital domain can bring about consequences that may escalate tensions- including human rights violations and abuses.
Wilful restrictions on access to the Internet- in full or in part- represents but one type of misuse. The spread of targeted disinformation through digital technologies represents another, one which often limits people's access to reliable information at times when it is needed the most. Still, we should not underestimate the positive effects of digital technologies. They can help promote inclusion in decision-making processes by allowing access for groups which have traditionally been excluded, such as women and minority groups, including through the use of VTC in this very Council to facilitate the participation of more, and diverse, civil society briefers.
Disinformation also remains a challenge in many arenas. Including posing a risk to our UN peacekeeping missions. For example, when false information is spread to create a more hostile environment amongst the communities that the UN peacekeepers are set out to help. Yet, the best defence against disinformation is a free, independent, and professional media sector. It is essential that the media is free to convey important information, ask critical questions, and report on human rights violations and abuses.
Supporting independent and pluralistic media, and ensuring the safety of journalists, can therefore also help reduce tensions and prevent conflict.
Thank you again for placing this issue on our agenda. I look forward to this being a continuing discussion on how we can prevent and counter disinformation and other challenges stemming from the misuse of digital technologies. While also not losing sight of the immense benefits that such technologies offer to the maintenance of international peace and security.