What's In Blue

Posted Mon 21 Nov 2016

Open Arria-Formula Meeting on Counter-Terrorism

This afternoon (21 November), Ukraine is organising an open Arria-formula meeting on the protection of critical infrastructure against terrorist attacks. The meeting will be chaired by Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko (Ukraine) and there will be three panelists: Sergiy Semochko, Head of the Department for Counterintelligence and Protection of the National Economy of the Security Service of Ukraine; Frank Westfall, Regional Director of the Office of Infrastructure Protection of the US Department of Homeland Security; and Scott Aaronson, Executive Director for Security and Business Continuity of the Edison Electric Institute.

The organisation of this Arria-formula meeting constitutes a first discussion on a priority area for Ukraine ahead of its second year in the Council. Against the backdrop of several terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure over the last few months—including on the international airports in Brussels and Istanbul earlier this year—the meeting aims at raising awareness of the impact that these attacks can have on communities.

A concept note circulated ahead of the meeting stresses how critical infrastructure systems essential to the well-being of society—for example, those related to banking and finance, telecommunications, emergency services, industry, transportation, high-tech energy and water supply—have the potential to become “single points of failure” if attacked, given the interconnected nature of modern life. Such attacks often result in the loss of civilian life as well as the destruction of property, and can even compromise national defense capacities, among other consequences. The concept note further states that these attacks—whether physical or cyber in nature—have the potential to severely degrade the stability of targeted societies. Council members and member states might be willing to react to the presentations by outlining their efforts to develop capabilities to identify vulnerabilities and to consider preventive measures to counter this threat.

Ukraine aims for the meeting to prompt members to identify the most urgent needs and gaps on this issue, and to consider how the Council can mobilise international efforts to strengthen relevant inter-state cooperation. Along these lines, the concept note urges member states to increase cooperation with private sector actors owning or operating critical infrastructure, including through the joint development of emergency preparedness standards and procedures to manage the consequences of potential attacks.

Later this month, Spain and Senegal are organising another Arria-formula meeting on a related topic: cybersecurity and international peace and security.

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