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Conference held on new technologies protecting human rights


Governments, civil society and the private sector have specific roles and responsibilities and must work together to ensure new technologies are backed up with human rights safeguards. PHOTO: ImageCollab

Participants of a virtual conference on the Impact of Emerging Technologies on International Security and Terrorism on 14 October say technologies need to be backed up with human rights safeguards. At the conference by the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Korea and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), they agreed that it is essential to strengthen international co-operation and work together to make a more secure world amid rapid technological advances to effectively address challenges.

Bae Jongin, Ambassador for International Security Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, says cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, big data, robotics and similar have been rapidly emerging. He says we need to boost regional co-operation to call attention to new challenges and find concrete ways to deal with them.


“The development of technologies raises concerns of new ethical and legal standards with possible abuse and excessive competition for dual-use technologies among states that can lead to an arms race causing geopolitical instability. The development, use and management of technologies are mainly driven by the private sector, think tanks and academia and governments, civil society and the private sector have specific roles and responsibilities and must work side by side,” he says.

According to Jongin, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically heightened the urgency and importance of discussion on emerging technologies as there are rising concerns on widespread misinformation relevant to the pandemic and cyberattacks on hospitals and laboratories. He says participants of the conference discussed 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.

“The pandemic has drawn global attention to risks of bio-terrorism on a large scale.

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, as well as virtual currencies is a concern,” says the ambassador.

Alena Kupchyna, co-ordinator of Activities to Address Transnational Threats at OSCE, says the risk of unintended engagements, a loss of system control and the risk of proliferation must be taken into consideration. She says abuse of technological tools such as excessive, unjustified or disproportionate surveillance, data collection and profiling can result in human rights violations.

According to 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 affect the right to respect for private and family life. She says the OSCE is assisting participating states and partners for co-operation in increasing travel document security while maintaining full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. “It is focused on implementing the 16 ground-breaking cyber or ICT security confidence-building measures. These measures aim to support states to close the law enforcement gap in countering cybercrime through capacity-building initiatives and counter abuse of the internet by terrorists by suppressing terrorist financing and protecting critical infrastructure and soft targets,” says the co-ordinator.

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