During the two-day meeting in India, October 28-29, on the theme Use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposesMs. Kamboj expects UN Member States and experts from the private sector, academia and civil society to discuss best practices for “sharing information to detect and prevent acts of terrorism, to bring the perpetrators to justice and to support the victims of terrorism”.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
UN News: What determined the theme of this special meeting? Are there figures showing the increased use of new technologies by certain groups, or specific incidents?
Ruchira Kamboj: The use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes is an issue of growing concern. Member States already face a significant and growing threat related to the exploitation of the internet and social media platforms to facilitate a wide range of terrorist activities. Terrorists take advantage of online spaces to network, procure weapons, and obtain logistical and financial support.
Other areas of concern are the use of new payment methods – like prepaid cards and mobile payments, or virtual assets and online financing methods like crowdfunding platforms – for terrorist purposes. There is also potential for emerging technologies, including drones, artificial intelligence, robotics, synthetic biology, self-driving cars and 3D printing, to be used for terrorist purposes.
We must remember, of course, that many of the technologies I just mentioned are also incredibly useful communication tools and services used by a large percentage of the world’s population. The Security Council has addressed new technologies in a number of counterterrorism resolutions focusing on law enforcement and border control, aviation security, and the protection of critical infrastructure and soft targets.
The Council’s most recent counter-terrorism resolution, Resolution 2617 of December 2021, makes specific reference to emerging technologies, noting the growing threat posed by their use for terrorist purposes. In this resolution, the Council notes with concern the growing global misuse of drones by terrorists to carry out attacks and recognizes the need to strike a balance between promoting innovation and preventing misuse as its applications develop.
Therefore, the Counter-Terrorism Committee is committed to supporting Member States in their efforts to harness the vast beneficial potential of new and emerging technologies.
Many innovative technologies, such as artificial intelligence, advanced analytics, facial recognition and unmanned aerial systems are used by Member States, United Nations entities, international and regional organizations, civil society organizations civil society and other relevant actors, to collect, use and share the information necessary to detect and prevent acts of terrorism, bring perpetrators to justice and support victims of terrorism.
UN News: What are the main outcomes that the meeting expects to achieve?
Ruchira Kamboj: The special meeting will be an opportunity to discuss how new technologies are currently being exploited for terrorist purposes, as well as how the terrorist threat arising from this exploitation is likely to evolve and grow as new technologies are developed and adopted by all kinds of users.
Discussions will further focus on ways in which States and other relevant actors can enhance their engagement and cooperation with each other to counter the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes, including terrorist financing. .
As always, when discussing terrorism and counter-terrorism responses, human rights and gender are essential parts of the conversation. A key outcome is to understand how States respond to these evolving threats in a manner consistent with their human rights obligations, and to encourage all of our partners to ensure that human rights people are respected as we seek to keep pace with ever-changing technologies.
The use of new and emerging technologies to prevent and counter terrorist activities can be a very effective and powerful tool if employed with full respect for international human rights law. The objective of the meeting is to learn from the experience of Member States how to strike the right balance.
UN News: Will the discussions also focus on how other sectors, such as financial markets and private companies, can take action to alleviate the problem?
Ruchira Kamboj: Absolutely. The special meeting will be an opportunity for participants to focus on steps that could be taken to further develop and use public-private partnerships, explore security by designing best practices, and create mechanisms for oversight, transparency and of responsibility. We are particularly interested in hearing from our partners in the private sector, academia and civil society about the initiatives they are working on in this regard.
Private sector actors as well as Member States have also increased the use of digital technologies to identify, prevent and stop terrorist financing through online methods. When used responsibly and in accordance with international law, technology can facilitate the collection, processing and analysis of data, and help actors identify and manage terrorist financing risks more effectively and closely. real time.
Data pooling and collaborative analytics practices can help financial institutions better understand, assist and mitigate money laundering and terrorist financing risks. There are also a number of positive uses for drones to counter the movement of terrorists across borders, foil terrorist operations, and secure public spaces and major events. There are also technologies being deployed to prevent the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for terrorist purposes.
UN News: What are the most harmful impacts on civilians of the use of these new technologies, especially with regard to social media?
Ruchira Kamboj: The ease of access, affordability and near-universal reach of new and emerging technologies have, on the one hand, opened up immense possibilities for humanity, but have also, on the other hand, brought people together in a very closed environment, particularly exposing vulnerable users to actors with harmful intentions.
For example, during the pandemic, the increased online presence of young people has been exploited by terrorist groups to spread their propaganda and distorted narratives to recruit and fundraise for terrorist purposes.
We have witnessed the rampant use of social media for terrorist purposes to spread terrorist propaganda. Thus, the easy access, availability, affordability and universality of new and emerging technologies have impacted every section of society.
On the other hand, the extensive application of anti-terrorism measures has also raised serious concerns. Experience has shown that the indiscriminate use of technology to counter terrorism can alienate populations and have a negative effect on violent extremism and counter-terrorism efforts.
The United Nations continues to promote a holistic and whole-of-society approach to addressing the many challenges in countering terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism online. Civil society organizations, universities and private sector entities have an important role to play in this regard.
UN News: Is the Committee optimistic that the Security Council can reach a final agreement?
Ruchira Kamboj: There is not necessarily a final agreement to be reached when it comes to preventing the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes. Given the trajectory of technological development driven by science, curiosity, profit and users, there is no obvious end in sight to what could be created. And that means there is no predictable end stage for what we do in the evolving terrorist landscape, because any technology has the potential to be misused.
Each member of the Security Council and its Counter-Terrorism Committee is committed to adopting an approach to terrorism that upholds the rule of law, consistent with their obligations under international law. To that end, the Committee and the Council remain seized of the matter and will continue to carry out the mandates entrusted to them under the various Security Council resolutions on the fight against terrorism.