HPM Sheikh Hasina urges UN to play a role in making a safer digital world

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Published on September 25, 2018
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called the UN to play an effective role in making the digital world safer and continue its work on norm setting for information security.

“UN can play a critical role in making the digital world safer. The work on norm-setting in information security should continue,” she said in a statement at a high-level event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session.

UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) on Cyber Security and International Cooperation and Bangladesh’s Permanent Mission to the UN jointly staged the event when Sheikh Hasina warned the global community of the risks of misuse of ICT.

“The abuse of ICT may pose a serious threat for international peace and security (as) cyberspace has no physical borders,” she said, adding the capacity of states for securing IT was “far from even”.

The Bangladesh premier said while some states were working on using ICT for military purposes, “terrorists and violent extremists are using it to spread their toxic narratives”.

Sheikh Hasina, who is now in New York to attend the 73rd UNGA Session, said in an inter-connected world the weaker links could cause disruption for others and “cybersecurity thus became a concern for all”.

“Our hard-earned gains in the ICT sector need to be made secure as critical infrastructures around the world have become a regular target of cyber-attacks,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said identifying the actual source of wrongful activity remained a challenge for developing countries, laying importance on access of the developing countries to the technologies and information to detect such evil or wrong activities.

She said mechanisms so far used for cybersecurity should as well be made more inclusive and the question of rights and freedoms in cyberspace needs to be duly addressed as well.

The premier said developing countries should be given a chance to voice their concerns “which the UN Secretary-General recognized it in his Agenda for Disarmament”.

The prime minister said the norms and principles for the responsible behavior of the member states in cyberspace should receive unconditional support.

“The principles of the UN Charter and the relevant international law should apply to the cyberspace. States must remain true to their commitment not to conduct or support any harmful cyber activity,” she said.

The prime minister said the states should also prevent their territory from being used for wrongful acts against other nations’ interest.

“Bangladesh takes these commitments seriously and we expect others to do the same,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said international cooperation in capacity building for cybersecurity must be given priority. Development partners should consider this to be part of their internationally agreed commitments.

Bangladesh was working on building a complete cyber security eco-system, she said and mentioned about a passage of the Digital Security Act by the parliament.

A cybersecurity Incident Response Team is in place, which cooperates with other countries and a Digital Forensic Laboratory has been set up for training purposes, she said.

“A National Cyber Security Agency is in the process of being set up. We hope to keep learning from the experience of other friendly countries,” the prime minister said.

Sheikh Hasina said twenty years ago, during her first term in office she launched the idea of a culture of peace at the General Assembly.

“As I draw closer to the end of my third term in office, I pledge Bangladesh’s support for promoting a culture of cybersecurity at the UN and beyond,” she said.

The UN High-level Conference on Cyber-security can be an important building block for that.

“We must demonstrate our strong political resolve to create a secure, stable, peaceful, inclusive and accessible cyber space for our future generations,” Sheikh Hasina said.

UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu, Singapore Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Estonian Deputy Foreign Minister Paul Teesalu and Ambassador in Charge of Cyber Policy of Japan Masato Otaka spoke on the occasion.

The panelists were PM’s ICT Adviser Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed; Director of Global Services Division, UNOICT, Salem Avan; and Senior Director, Cyber Security Strategy and Policy, Microsoft, Angela McKay; while senior adviser of ICT4Peace Eneken Tikk was the moderator.

PM’s Energy Adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury delivered the closing remarks.