The United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee holds a special meeting in Mumbai and New Delhi beginning on Friday, focused on the growing threat posed by new and emerging technologies.The two-day meeting in India marks the first time since 2015, that the Committee has convened outside UN Headquarters in New York.
The discussion will focus on three areas: Internet and social media; financing for global terror networks; and the proliferation of unmanned aerial systems, such as drones.
These emerging technologies are fast-developing and being used more and more regularly by countries across the world, including for domestic security and counter-terrorism purposes.
But high-tech software and hardware is also being increasingly misused by terrorist groups for their own illegal ends.
Terrorists hijacking tech
India is leading the Counter-Terrorism Committee until the end of this year. Briefing journalists in New York, Committee Chair, Indian Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, said the high stakes meeting would reflect on recent developments and the latest evidence-based research on terrorism and technology use.
She said it would bring together “a wealth of knowledge and real-world expertise on the subject matter, with the participation of Member States, relevant operational partners and key stakeholders.”
The meeting will provide a platform to exchange ideas on how the tech sector can help address the spread of terrorist content online and effectively counter terrorist narratives.
Moreover, they are expected to discuss how tech-savvy terrorists are using technological innovations to move money around, via crowdfunding, merchandise sales, appeals for donations through social media platforms, and other methods.
Drones and AI
Another concern that will be explored is the potential use of 3-D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, unmanned aerial systems, and synthetic biotech, for illegal ends.
On the increasing use of drones, the Committee’s Coordinator for Information Technologies, Jennifer Bramlette, said that Member States have already taken some steps to address it.
“Of course, there are no-fly zones around airports and critical infrastructures. Of course, companies themselves have taken steps to build in mechanisms for geo-locking so that if drones are found flying in certain places, they can be deactivated automatically”, she added.
She said there are also “a number of discussions” going on, over how drones are sold, “and who can buy them.”
Due to the complexity of the whole issue, and its rapid evolution, the expectation is that members will work towards a final document that should provide an overview of how terrorists are using technology, aiming to shut their narrative and use of tech down.
Member States are also expected to update on recent developments and research on threats and share best practices that are in line with international human rights law.
Joint measures that can be taken through industrial collaboration, public-private partnerships and legislative, policy and regulatory responses, will also be discussed.
About the Committee
The Counter-Terrorism Committee was established by unanimous consent on 28 September 2001, in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States, and all 15 Security Council members sit on it.
The Committee is tasked with monitoring the implementation of measures to enhance countries’ legal and institutional counter-terrorism abilities, at every level, locally and internationally.
Briefing journalists, the Committee Chair recalled that “any act of terrorism is unjustifiable, regardless of the motivation”.
Ambassador Kamboj said that day one of the meeting would be taking place at a symbolically important venue, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, to pay tribute to the dozens of victims who were killed there in 2008 by terrorists during a four-day siege. Dozens more were killed across the city in other coordinated attacks by militants.
Day two will be taking place in the Indian capital, New Delhi.
She added that as the scourge of terrorism was clearly a “transnational” issue, collaboration between Member States was crucial to provide effective solutions.