Ambassador for Cyber Affairs

Arria Statement: The Impact of Emerging Technologies on International Peace and Security

United Nations Security Council Arria Formula Meeting

Statement by Dr Tobias Feakin, Ambassador for Cyber Affairs and Critical Technology

Thank you Chair.

Australia welcomes the opportunity presented today to discuss the impact of emerging technologies on international peace and security.

This discussion is very timely – countries recognise that technology is increasingly at the centre of international politics.

Which is why Australia’s Foreign Minister launched, in April, our International Cyber and Critical Tech Engagement Strategy, which sets out Australia’s vision for a safe, secure and prosperous world enabled by cyberspace and critical technology.

But the revolutionary impact that this modern technological change will have on our communities, and on our planet, cannot be understated.

The benefits of digital technologies are not evenly distributed.

Australia seeks to foster an international environment focused on narrowing digital divides towards sustainable economic growth, development and stability for all. 

Technologies hold the key to revolutionising fields as diverse as health, education, governance, agriculture, and environmental sustainability – and may be the key to meaningful progress towards all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Technologies are not neutral – values shape technology, and its many applications.

When critical technologies are designed, developed and used to uphold human rights and the rule of law – societies are safer, more secure, enable greater economic growth and encourage innovation.

We need to continue to work together to ensure that, together, we seize the opportunities of emerging technologies, and mitigate the risks.

This is the Australian approach - we loudly advocate for international engagement on this very subject.

And we are active in engagement that is already ongoing, established, and fit-for-purpose.

Much of it within the UN system, both multilateral and multistakeholder, that supports the international rules-based order.

And upholds existing international law.

Because, just as existing international law applies to cyberspace, international law - including the UN Charter in its entirely - applies to the design, development and use of critical technologies by states.

Let me be clear.

We as an international community have already come a long way down the road of addressing the risks of emerging technologies.

And sharing the many opportunities they bring.

The technologies may be new, but our multilateral system and international institutions are already well placed to address and shape the impact of emerging technologies - and have been doing so for years.

The need to work together on emerging technologies is clear.

And that work must be truly collaborative and transparent.

It must acknowledge that existing international engagement exists to build awareness of the opportunities and risks posed by emerging technologies.

And highlight that these risks include those perpetuated by state and non-state actors alike.

It must acknowledge that existing international law and norms apply.

And it must be in line with the shared values that underpin our vision for the future of cyberspace and technology, the international economic environment, and the rules-based international order.