In November 2020, the General Assembly, by means of Resolution A/RES/75/240, authorized the creation of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) focused on the security aspects of information and communications technologies (ICTs). The OEWG’s activities began in 2021 and its final report is scheduled for submission to the General Assembly in 2025.

The OEWG held its fifth substantive session from July 24 till July 28. Grahm Tuohy-Gaydos, our summer intern and current student at Williams College, delivered a youth statement at the NGO session of the meeting on July 26, 2023. The remarks were made on behalf of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation as a stakeholder to the OEWG. Grahm’s statement focused on the need for youth engagement in ICT discussions and application of International Humanitarian Law in governing the use of ICTs. Watch and read the statement below!

“My name is Grahm Tuohy-Gaydos, and I am a youth activist with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. We have delivered multiple interventions in the past this working group, and I appreciate the opportunity to be here today. I specifically want to speak to youth views regarding emerging technologies and international humanitarian law and the importance of youth inclusion within decision-making processes.

Chair and distinguished delegates, emerging technologies within ICTs are a critical concern in light of recent developments in areas such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing. These advancements contain boundless possibilities to positively or negatively transform our world’s shared information and communications pathways, potentialities both good and bad. Avoiding negative outcomes requires active engagement and guidance. We hope this working group will continue to proactively explore and consider these technologies in ways that will go beyond what is currently outlined within the annual progress reports.

Chair and distinguished delegates, the challenges ahead necessitate a comprehensive framework for the digital arena, and we believe that the UN Charter and International Humanitarian Law must be central to these discussions. A shared unified understanding of how human rights law applies within the information realm will help regulate competition and ensure that safety privacy and security are always at the forefront of system design. We take note of points 31 and 32 in the draft APR as critical next steps in outlining a substantive framework for the application of international law to Information and Communications Technologies. This will necessitate collective action and collaboration to ensure all benefit from these developments. We welcome the emphasis on capacity building and greater information sharing within point 34 in sections E and F as a first step towards a safe and collaborative digital space.

Honorable chair and delegates, allow me to close my remarks by emphasizing that the OEWG should consider avenues and methodologies through which to amplify and integrate youth voices in ICT discussions, including within the text of the report that this body will submit at the end of the week. Youth contributions will enhance and facilitate a broader understanding and analysis of ICT challenges, as currently performed by this working group. Now, our inclusion will help ensure that a safer future awaits us all. Thank you.”

Grahm Tuohy-Gaydos, NAPF Youth Activist