Date
16 November 2018
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at Lisbon University on Monday after receiving an honorary degree from the institution. Photo: Reuters
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at Lisbon University on Monday after receiving an honorary degree from the institution. Photo: Reuters

UN chief urges global rules over cyber warfare

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for global rules to minimize the impact of electronic warfare on civilians as massive cyber-attacks look likely to become the first salvoes in future wars, Reuters reports.

“Episodes of cyber warfare between states already exist. What is worse is that there is no regulatory scheme for that type of warfare, it is not clear how the Geneva Convention or international humanitarian law applies to it,” Guterres was quoted said in a speech in Lisbon on Monday.

“I am absolutely convinced that, differently from the great battles of the past, which opened with a barrage of artillery or aerial bombardment, the next war will begin with a massive cyber-attack to destroy military capacity… and paralyze basic infrastructure such as the electric networks,” he said.

Speaking at the University of Lisbon after receiving an honorary degree, Guterres offered the UN as a platform where various players from scientists to governments can meet and work out such rules “to guarantee a more humane character” of any conflict involving IT, the report said.

Rules must be designed to ensure that the Internet remains “an instrument in the service of good”, the UN chief said.

Addressing professors and engineers at his alma mater, Guterres urged them to contribute to the process, which had to run much faster than before.

Traditional ways of working out such rules could take decades – too slow for the rapidly changing technology scene, he said.

The comments came after computer hackers, many of them believed to be state-sponsored groups, last year disrupted multinational firms, ports and public services on an unprecedented scale around the world, Reuters noted.

A group of NATO allies said last year they were drawing up cyber warfare principles to guide their militaries on what justifies deploying cybe- attack weapons more broadly, aiming for agreement by early 2019.

Some NATO allies believe shutting down an enemy power plant through a cyber-attack could be more effective than air strikes.

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CG/RC

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