Statement at the Security Council High Level-Open Debate on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Addressing Evolving Threats in Cyberspace” by Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Dace Melbārde

New York, 20 June 2024

Mr President,

Latvia would like to express our gratitude to the Republic of Korea for organizing this Security Council’s High-Level Open Debate. We would also like to thank the Secretary General Antonio Guterres, as well as the briefers from Cyber Peace Institute and Leeds Beckett University for their insightful presentations.

Mr President,

Use and reliance on digital technology has grown significantly since the cyber security related matters were first introduced in the UN’s agenda more than 20 years ago. Today the cyber domain has become connective tissue of the global economic and social development. While providing vast opportunities for progress, the expansion of cyberspace has also been linked with rising of risks and challenges.

In the recent years, we have been encountering several negative trends in regard to international peace and security. There is a growing number of cases where critical infrastructure, including critical information infrastructure, has been targeted in cyber-attacks threatening with catastrophic “real world” consequences. Furthermore, we have witnessed cyber-attacks to become integral part of Russia’s full-scale aggression against Ukraine.

Cyber threats often intersect with other hostile acts such as the spread of disinformation and misinformation, as well as malicious use of Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies. Cybercrime is rampant as well, with ransomware payments hitting record high in 2023.

These developments affect global peace and security. The global community needs to coordinate its response and the Security Council has a role to play in line with its mandate.

Therefore, Latvia believes that threats and challenges in cyberspace would merit regular deliberations in the Council. Such discussions could be informed by a periodic report by the Secretary General. Increasing Council’s attention to cyber security could also facilitate integration of cyber related aspects in other thematic mandates such as peacekeeping and Women, Peace and Security. The Council should also look into strengthening its ability to respond to large scale cyber-attacks with potential international security implications.

Mr President,

It is evident that developing more robust role of the Council in addressing cybersecurity matters can not to be accomplished in one day. This is a step by step endeavor, and meetings like the one today play a critical role facilitating this process.

It is also clear that the Council should not replace the work already done in other UN formats under the General Assembly. Quite the opposite – the Council should reinforce the understanding reached in these formats, in particular, the applicability of the international law in its entirety to cyberspace. There is also more work to be done collectively in implementing the framework of responsible state behavior in cyberspace. Anticipating the establishment of a permanent UN mechanism to address cybersecurity, known as “Program of Action”, we see potential for new synergies between the Council and the General Assembly in this field.

Mr President,

In conclusion, I would like to underline Latvia’s commitment to continue supporting efforts within the UN to address growing cybersecurity threats and challenges. We have been actively engaged in discussions on this topic in the General Assembly bodies and will also continue to advocate for a larger role of the Council.

I thank you.