The Korea Herald


FM Cho to chair cybersecurity meeting at UN Security Council

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : June 17, 2024 - 17:42

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South Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul speaks at the Korea-Africa Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Seoul on June 2. (Yonhap) South Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul speaks at the Korea-Africa Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Seoul on June 2. (Yonhap)

South Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul will chair an open debate at the UN Security Council on Thursday to underscore the significant impacts of cyber threats on international peace and security, including North Korea’s cryptocurrency theft that endangers the nonproliferation regime, the Foreign Ministry in Seoul announced Monday.

South Korea will host an open debate to be broadcast live, allowing all UN members to participate, as the "signature event" of its presidency at the UN Security Council in June, a senior Foreign Ministry official announced during a closed-door briefing on condition of anonymity.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will also attend the event.

The official emphasized that "the open debate is the first in-person open debate on cybersecurity hosted at the Security Council," explaining that Estonia previously held a virtual open debate on cybersecurity in 2021 during its UNSC presidency.

The key goal of the open debate is to "promote discussion on cybersecurity at the UN Security Council," as the subject is not officially on the Security Council's agenda due to differing opinions among the five permanent members on whether the issue should be addressed at the Security Council.

"The reason we are seeking to discuss cybersecurity at the Security Council is that, despite it being an emerging security issue and a transnational threat, it has not been adequately addressed at the Security Council level," the official said.

"The recognition of this issue as one that the Security Council should address is growing. Nevertheless, since there has been a lack of consensus among member states and permanent members, the main focus of our meeting is likely to be improving awareness of these aspects."

The Korea Herald has learned that China and Russia, two veto-wielding permanent members, have voiced opposition to discussing cybersecurity at the UN Security Council.

The senior official emphasized the growing perception that malicious cyber activities, including advanced technology breaches, private information leaks, virtual asset theft and attacks on critical infrastructure, have increasingly posed "significant threats to international peace and security" with the advancement of technology.

Furthermore, North Korea is financing its illegal nuclear and missile programs through malicious cyber activities such as stealing virtual assets and military technology, thereby threatening the international nuclear nonproliferation regime, the official added.

"Given that the Security Council is the primary UN body responsible for maintaining international peace and security, the meeting also aims to lead discussions on ensuring the Council can respond effectively and swiftly to new forms of security threats posed by cybersecurity issues," the official added. "Such purpose underscores the significance and relevance of holding this meeting."

Cybersecurity is one of the key thematic issues South Korea seeks to highlight as a member of the UN Security Council, alongside peacekeeping and peacebuilding; women, peace and security; and climate and security.

In April, South Korea chaired an Arria-formula meeting — an informal gathering convened by one or more UN Security Council members — to bring attention to the repercussions of cyber threats and malicious cyber activities, including North Korea's sanctions-busting maneuvers in cyberspace, on international peace and security.

Cho is scheduled to visit the UN headquarters in New York from Wednesday to Saturday. During his visit, Cho will also attend a meeting of the Peacebuilding Commission on Friday.