UNOCT Cyber Programme completes global tech consultations and launches new project phase

On 11-12 May 2022, UNOCT completed its fifth and final round of regional consultations on new technologies in the fight against terrorism with a seminar gathering Indo-Pacific member states in Jakarta. The meeting took stock of existing capacity building support provided to member states in the region and examined priorities and capacities of potential beneficiary countries for UNOCT’s latest tech initiative. Similar meetings took place over the past three months in Central Asia, the Caribbean, East and West Africa and Europe to better understand member states’ needs for assistance in the respective regions and thereby enable UNOCT and its partners to develop a tailored approach for each.

The CT TECH Initiative of UNOCT’s UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) was launched earlier this year with INTERPOL and the European Union, and will be implemented under the UNOCT/UNCCT Global CT Programme on Cybersecurity and New Technologies. The goal of the 2.5-year initiative is to strengthen the capacities of law enforcement and criminal justice authorities to counter the exploitation of new technologies for terrorist purposes and to leverage new technologies in the fight against terrorism.  

Over 440 participants from 60 member states attended the regional consultations across the globe, providing UNOCT and its partners with a comprehensive overview on which countries need assistance and which areas of engagement should be prioritized. The feedback from member states revealed a lack of awareness of projects within their agencies that are related to the use of new technologies for countering terrorism. The lack of funding, as well as limited technical capabilities and in-house knowledge of the potential application of new and emerging technologies in countering terrorism were also listed as obstacles in strategically employing new tech. 

Following the regional consultations, 5 member states will be identified for the knowledge development part of the CT Tech initiative. This entails, for example, threat assessments of terrorist exploitation of new technologies, as well as assessing the capabilities of law enforcement agencies to counter terrorist use of new technologies. Awareness raising and capacity building support to member states will round out the last phase of CT Tech. 

Advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) and their availability have made it attractive for terrorist and violent extremist groups to exploit the Internet and social media for their means, including incitement, radicalization, recruitment, training etc. Terrorists also use encrypted communications and the dark web to share terrorist content, as well as to coordinate and facilitate attacks and procure weapons and counterfeit documents. Meanwhile, there is concern that once advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning and self-driving cars become widely available, these technologies could also be misused by terrorists to expand the range and lethality of their attacks.