Cyber operations create additional risks for people’s security and well-being

Minister Cho Tae-yul, Excellencies,

The International Committee of the Red Cross shares the Republic of Korea’s concern about the potential human cost of cyber operations during armed conflict.

The ICRC works to protect and assist people affected by over 120 armed conflicts worldwide. In a growing number of these conflicts, cyber operations are creating additional risks for people’s security and well-being. Three trends are of particular concern:

  • First, cyber operations have disrupted the provision of essential services for civilian populations – such as electricity, water, and medical care. Such cyber operations endanger people already suffering from the devastation and insecurity caused by armed conflict, and are often conducted in disregard of international humanitarian law.
  • Second, we are deeply concerned about the growing involvement of civilian actors— individuals, hacker groups, and tech companies—in cyber operations related to armed conflicts. The closer civilians and civilian objects are drawn to hostilities, the greater the risk they are harmed.
  • Third, ICRC and the broader International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – as humanitarian organizations – also face a growing threat of cyber operations, including data breaches and harmful information operations. If our relief operations are disrupted, or trust in our work undermined, our ability to assist and protect people is weakened.

Excellencies, in this Council you have the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and a key role in the protection of civilian populations during armed conflict.

The Security Council has always been clear: wars have limits. You have left no doubt that belligerents must not target civilians or civilian objects, and that medical facilities as well as humanitarian relief operations and personnel must be respected and protected. Thus, the ICRC encourages the Security Council to mainstream the potential human cost of cyber operations in its work, and to systematically uphold the long-standing limits that international
humanitarian law imposes on all means and methods or warfare, old and new, cyber and kinetic.

The recently adopted Security Council Resolution 2730, which explicitly expresses concern about malicious ICT activities that target humanitarian organizations, and condemns disinformation and the incitement of violence against humanitarian personnel, has been an important first step in this direction.

In today’s digitalized world, the Security Council should not ignore the threats that ICT activities pose to civilian populations during armed conflict.

Thank you.

Source : Icrc