UN Security Council Calls on Member States to Address Threats against Critical Infrastructure

The Security Council today called upon Member States to address the danger of terrorist attacks against critical infrastructure, adopting a related resolution before holding a day-long open debate on that subject.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2341 (2017), the Council encouraged all States to make concerted and coordinated efforts — including through international cooperation — to raise awareness and expand knowledge of challenges posed by terrorist attacks, so as to be better prepared for such attacks.

Also by that text, the Council called upon all Member States to establish criminal responsibility for terrorist attacks aimed at critical infrastructure and to explore ways to exchange information and enhance cooperation in preventing, mitigating and responding to such incidents.  It encouraged the United Nations, Member States and regional and international organizations to share good practices and measures in managing the risk of terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure — a term covering bridges, power lines, airports and nuclear power plants, among other facilities.

Briefing the Council after the adoption, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet, said: “As our world becomes increasingly interconnected through travel, commerce, communications and cyberspace, we become more vulnerable to attacks by technologically savvy terrorists seeking new ways to spread fears.”  Emphasizing the regional and global implications of a terrorist attack on critical infrastructure, she said the international community must come together and be more creative, proactive and effective in confronting that risk.

Jürgen Stock, Secretary-General of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), also underlined the interconnected nature of today’s critical infrastructure.  He warned that conflict-zone methods involving simultaneous active-shooter incidents, armoured vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, home-made explosive vests and hacking attacks could be honed for use in city streets and against key facilities.

Hamid Ali Rao, Deputy Director General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said that a recent attack on a chemical facility in the Iraqi city of Mosul vividly illustrated the threat all too well.  Responsibility for protecting infrastructure must be shared equally by industry and government, he emphasized, noting that the chemical industry already understood the need to prevent misuse of chemicals and protect chemical plants.

Chris Trelawny, Special Adviser on Maritime Security and Facilitation to the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), put the spotlight on inter-agency cooperation at seaports, while also emphasizing the importance of a well-coordinated, risk-based preventative strategy to counter threats as varied as cargo theft and potential terrorist access to vessels.

Olli Heinonen, Senior Adviser on Science and Non-Proliferation at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, underscored the risk of nuclear terrorism, warning that physical installations as well as shipments could be targeted.  Terrorist organizations were becoming more sophisticated, he said, citing a recent report by Conflict Armament Research that emphasized ISIL’s ability to attract skilled engineers.  Such groups could potentially recruit people with nuclear skills and bring an “insider threat” to nuclear installations, he explained.

In the ensuing debate, many speakers emphasized the key role of private-public partnerships in securing critical infrastructure, as well as prospects for States exchanging know-how and best practices.  However, several stressed that while international cooperation was welcome, it remained the responsibility of each nation to ensure the security of its own critical infrastructure.

Speaking today were Foreign Ministers as well as other senior officials and representatives of Ukraine, Italy, Kazakhstan, Sweden, France, Senegal, Japan, Ethiopia, Uruguay, United States, Egypt, United Kingdom, China, Russian Federation, Bolivia, Estonia, Slovakia, Peru, Colombia, Iran, India, Israel, Romania, Belgium, Argentina, Turkey, Cuba, Iraq, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kuwait, Venezuela (also on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Jordan, Algeria, Syria, Netherlands, Brazil, Afghanistan, Morocco, Poland, Canada, Malaysia, Australia, Latvia, Maldives and Haiti.

Also addressing the Council were speakers representing the European Union delegation, the Holy See and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Source: UN