UNGA 77 – Third Committee
Agenda Item 110: Countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes
October 3, 2022
The rapid development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has been, on the whole, highly positive, contributing significantly to economic, cultural and social development. Such technologies have offered new possibilities for knowledge-sharing, education, healthcare, and personal growth. However, as instruments or tools, these are not always neutral. The designing and use of ICTs does have ethical implications. Therefore, the dangers related to the criminal use of ICTs cannot be ignored and must be addressed.
The criminal use of ICTs has not only given birth to new forms of crime, the so-called cyber-dependent crimes, but it has also given a digital footprint to ‘traditional’ crimes, magnifying their detrimental impact on peace, the enjoyment of human rights and integral human development. In that regard, this Delegation would like to focus on two specific areas that deserve particular attention.
First, the use of ICTs for exploitation and abuse, in particular the production, distribution, and consumption of child pornography and other forms of child sexual abuse material is a major source of concern. Since such materials infringe the inherent dignity of children, States are required to take the necessary measures to prevent and tackle their production and dissemination. While child pornography has existed since the invention of photography, the use of ICTs has facilitated exponentially the diffusion of obscene materials. Moreover, these technologies allow for child exploitation and abuse to “cut across national borders, […] outstripping the efforts and resources of the institutions and security agencies charged with combating such abuse.”
Second, the criminal use of ICTs by terrorist groups has added a layer of complexity to counter-terrorism efforts. Terrorist groups frequently utilize ICTs for various ends, notably in their radicalization efforts, recruitment, fundraising, training, tactics, communication, command and control, and cyber-attacks. A relatively new phenomenon is the use of cryptocurrency, due to its anonymity and decentralization, by terrorist groups to receive and transfer funds, and most notably for procurement. This happens particularly when such actors turn to the dark web, taking advantage of its borderless and anonymous nature. Hence, properly designed and up-to-date anti-terrorist financing measures are required to effectively prevent the malicious use of cryptocurrency. In that regard, we recall the FATF’s Updated Guidance on Virtual Assets and Virtual Asset Service Providers and the FATF Report on virtual assets red flag indicators of money laundering and terrorist financing.
Cyber-enabled crimes take advantage of the new possibilities offered by ICTs. It is therefore crucial to reverse these trends, reaffirming that these technologies must be at the service of the common good and contribute to the betterment of the human person and the human family. At the same time, any legislation aimed at regulating the design and use of ICTs should respect human dignity and universal human rights, including the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.
For these reasons, this Delegation supports the elaboration of a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes. While building upon existing relevant provisions contained in other crime conventions, such as UNTOC and UNCAC, the work of the Ad Hoc Committee should be based on the constructive and transparent engagement of all delegations to address cyber-dependent crimes and some particularly heinous cyber-enabled crimes. Addressing this issue will require an honest and transparent dialogue among delegations that fosters consensus.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
 Cfr. Pope Francis, Address to Pontical Academy for Life, 28 February 2020.
 Cfr. Pope Francis, Address to the “Child Dignity in the Digital World” Congress, 14 November 2019.