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Statement by Ambassador Kelly at Arria Meeting on Emerging Technologies

 Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and to China and the co-hosts for organising this important meeting.        


Thanks also to our briefers for sharing their very useful and interesting insights on a whole range of issues.  


More than ever before, technology has come to play a critically important role in our lives. Indeed, we need look no further than this virtual meeting to see the positive impact digital technology has on our capacity to work during these unprecedented times. 


At the same time, cyber-attacks, cybercrime, the abuse of technology and its use to spread destabilizing disinformation is damaging trust.         


However, the recent consensus report of the OEWG on ICTs demonstrates that states can work together to address common challenges. 


Our approaches to new technologies need to be grounded in our human rights commitments, focussing on behaviour and on how new technologies are used or misused.  


The application of emerging technologies must also be in full compliance with international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

Mr. Chair, the Secretary General’s Agenda for Disarmament points to the legal, ethical, political and military risks of emerging means and methods of warfare.

As work continues towards the development of a normative and operational framework on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, Ireland reiterates the importance of maintaining human control over decisions regarding the use of force. 


Ireland is concerned too about the emerging risks posed by hypersonic missiles and we support the Secretary General’s call for a moratorium on testing. 


While the UN Charter and international law regulate State behaviour, it is necessary to ensure that the application of these norms is not outpaced by developments in weapons technology.


 Technology such as 3D printing can facilitate untraceable proliferation.  The humanitarian consequences of emerging technology used in conflict will depend on how new systems are used in practice, both by states and non-State actors. 


This, in our view, reinforces the need for a multilateral, transparent and inclusive response, and engagement with regional organisations. Non-State actors play a leading role in driving technological innovation. Future discussions must engage civil society, including human rights defenders, technical experts, academics and industry.


The Partnership for Peacekeeping Initiative has demonstrated the benefits of bringing together stakeholders and peacekeepers. We are already seeing the positive outcomes of these collaborations, enhancing operations in MINUSMA and MINUSCA.


We welcome the UN’s application of cutting-edge technologies in evidence-gathering, conflict prevention, mediation, peacebuilding and in support of peacekeeping operations. We heard last week, for example, how UNITAD uses innovative technologies, including artificial intelligence, to gather and analyse evidence of mass killings.


We need to use this opportunity to unlock the potential of emerging technologies to deliver on the SDGs and address the global and gender digital divide. AI Datasets can replicate and amplify social biases with unacceptable consequences.


We need to work to make technology of the future ‘gender transformative’ rather than ‘gender blind’, otherwise we will simply replicate discrimination against women and girls.


The full potential of women’s leadership in this field remains unfulfilled. Given the extraordinary pace of technological innovation, we need to act now to ensure a more inclusive approach, otherwise the technological gender divide will be systemic for years to come.


Ireland’s new Artificial Intelligence strategy will contribute to addressing potentially harmful or discriminatory impacts of AI, and with our National Cyber Security Strategy, will address the use of new technologies. 


In conclusion, Ireland believes that on this issue, as in all other areas, responsible behaviour, transparency and maintaining human accountability are key to building and maintaining the trust that underpins international peace and security.      

Thank you very much.

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