New York

13 February 2017

Secretary-General's message for the Security Council open debate on "Protection of critical infrastructure against terrorist attacks"

Ms. Maria Luiza Viotti, Chef de Cabinet

It is a pleasure for me to be here today on behalf of the Secretary-General.
I congratulate the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine for Convening this meeting.
As terrorist organizations proliferate and seek innovative ways to plan and execute physical and cyber-attacks across the globe, the threat they pose is becoming increasingly complex.
Critical infrastructure is especially vulnerable, including energy facilities and networks; air, land and maritime transportation; banking and financial services; water supply; food distribution, public health and other services that are the backbone of modern societies.
Infrastructure networks and systems that previously functioned independently have become interlinked through advances in communication and information technology.
An attack on one sector can affect others, leading to disruptions and widespread chaos.
The Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate has recognized the gravity of the dangers of Da'esh and other groups determined to carry out such attacks.
Moreover, since many such facilities and networks operate across borders, any terrorist attack against them would almost certainly have regional and global implications.
The transnational nature of terrorism requires a coordinated response of all states and actors of the international community.
However, we need to admit that international counter-terrorism cooperation has been limited, especially in the area of critical infrastructure.
Strategically, this means that the international community needs to unite and be more creative, proactive and effective, including through the development of strong public-private partnerships.
Three key steps need to be taken.
First, vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure need to be mapped, at all levels and in all sectors.
Second, international, regional and national actors should cooperate on prevention and, in case an attack does take place, on the mitigation of its effects; including through information sharing.
Third, it is crucial to build States' capacities, including to assess risks, take preparedness measures, strengthen emergency management capacity, and ensure that responses are fully in keeping with human rights norms and standards.
The United Nations stands ready to assist Member States in these and other 'areas.
The Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force has set up an Inter-agency Working Group on the Protection of Critical Infrastructure including Internet, Vulnerable Targets and Tourism Security.
Various projects to assist Member States are under way, encompassing many areas, UN entities and partners. But of course, the primary responsibility lies with Member States.
This debate comes at a crucial time.
As our world becomes increasingly interconnected - through travel, commerce, communications and in cyber space, we become more vulnerable to attacks by technologically savvy terrorists seeking new ways to spread fear.
I encourage the Security Council to heighten its attention to this critical threat.