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OSCE and Republic of Korea Focus on new technologies, their impact on international security and terrorism while safeguarding human rights

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New technologies need to be backed up with necessary human rights safeguards, furthering the OSCE’s comprehensive approach to security, say participants at the fourth inter-regional conference on the Impact of Emerging Technologies on International Security and Terrorism. Foreign Affairs Ministry of Korea, in co-operation with the OSCE Transnational Threats Department (TNTD) and the OSCE External Co-operation Section, organized the virtual conference on 14 October 2020.

Ambassador for International Security Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Bae Jongin, said that cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, big data, robotics and similar have been rapidly emerging.

“The possible abuse, excessive competition for dual-use technologies among states can lead to an arms race and cause geopolitical instability,” said Ambassador Bae.” The development of technologies raises concerns of new ethical and legal standards, as seen in the discussion on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems.” The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically heightened the urgency and importance of discussion on emerging technologies, said Bae. “There are rising concerns on widespread misinformation relevant to the pandemic and cyberattacks on hospitals and laboratories.”

Ambassador Bae said that the spread of propaganda and recruitment through cyberspace, using drones or other weapons manufactured by 3D printing, and the procurement of weapons and financing through the dark web, and virtual currencies is a concern.  He added that recently the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn global attention to risks of bio-terrorism on a large scale.

Participants agreed that in order to effectively address the challenges we face, it is essential to strengthen international co-operation and work together to make a more secure world amid rapid technological advances. Ambassador Bae said that ‘”we need to boost regional co-operation to call attention to new challenges and find concrete ways to deal with them.” He said that the development, use, and management of technologies are mainly driven by the private sector, think tanks and academia. Governments, civil society, and the private sector all have specific roles and responsibilities and must work side by side.

Participants discussed the development and testing of weapons based on emerging technologies, precautions needed to minimize the risk to civilians and compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law. Alena Kupchyna, OSCE Co-ordinator of Activities to Address Transnational Threats, said that the risk of unintended engagements, a loss of system control and the risk of proliferation must be taken into consideration.

“Abuse of technological tools – such as excessive, unjustified or disproportionate surveillance, data collection and profiling – can result in human rights violations,” said Kupchyna. “It can affect due process guarantees, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and information, freedom of assembly and association, and the right to equality before the law as well as the right to respect for private and family life.”

The OSCE is actively assisting participating States and Partners for Co-operation in increasing travel document security while maintaining the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The OSCE is focused on implementing the 16 ground-breaking cyber/ICT security confidence-building measures; supporting States to close the law enforcement gap in countering cybercrime through comprehensive capacity-building initiatives and countering the abuse of the Internet by terrorists, by suppressing terrorist financing, and protecting critical infrastructure and soft targets.

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