Hyunwoo Cho, South Korea, U.N. Security Council
Hyunwoo Cho, deputy permanent representative of South Korea to the United Nations and president of the Security Council for the month of June, chairs a meeting on June 19, 2024. Image: UN / Manuel Elias

UN Security Council to debate cybersecurity threats, despite Russian veto

The United Nations Security Council is set to debate cybersecurity on Thursday as part of South Korea’s presidency for the month of June.

The debate — intended to be the signature event of the South Korean presidency — comes just weeks after Russia used its veto to disrupt U.N. investigations into how North Korea’s hacking activities are funding the country’s sanctioned weapons programs.

“Sophisticated and intrusive malicious cyber activities are raising serious concerns for international peace and security,” wrote Joonkook Huang, South Korea’s permanent representative to the UN, in a note about the debate circulated among attendees.

“The high-level open debate will be chaired by the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, Cho Tae-yul, and it will serve as a valuable opportunity for the Council to fulfill its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security in the era of expanding cyberthreats,” stated the letter from Seoul.

Without mentioning particular states, the letter cites the growing risks to critical infrastructure posed by the ransomware ecosystem, which is predominantly based in Russia, alongside how cryptocurrency thefts are being used to support the illegal development of weapons of mass destruction.

While the U.N. has sanctioned North Korea for its WMD program, and has highlighted reports blaming the country for cryptocurrency thefts used to evade those sanctions, the sanctions committee's panel of experts investigating the issue was effectively told in March to wrap up its work when Russia vetoed a resolution extending its mandate until 2025.

The resolution was put forward following what will be the panel of experts’ final report in March. The report said the panel was investigating 58 cryptocurrency heists that took place over the six years between 2017 and 2023, believed to have brought in roughly $3 billion for Pyongyang. The panel also said it was investigating suspected arms transfers from North Korea to Russia.

The UN Security Council formal debate comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin visited North Korea to sign a deal with Kim Jong Un which the Kremlin described as a “comprehensive partnership agreement” with a mutual defense clause. 

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Alexander Martin

Alexander Martin

is the UK Editor for Recorded Future News. He was previously a technology reporter for Sky News and is also a fellow at the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.