Cybersecurity as well as ways to promote multilateralism and international co-operation topped the agenda of a key UN meeting that started in Bahrain yesterday.

The two-day meeting of the Council of Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly, which is being hosted by Bahrain, seeks to harness the experiences of former presidents of the Assembly with the aim of promoting pluralism and achieving the highest goals of the UN Charter.

It is being chaired by president of 56th UN Assembly session and former South Korean prime minister Dr Han Seung-soo. This is the first meeting of the council outside New York.

He expressed hope that the meeting will contribute to providing appropriate ground for the launch of constructive discussions and initiatives that would consolidate the UN principles, promote global peace and security, as well as provide a positive environment for sustainable and real development for all peoples to take place.

President of the 61st UN Assembly session, Shaikha Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa, in her statement, commended holding the meeting in Bahrain at the invitation of His Majesty King Hamad.

Since its accession to the UN in 1971, the kingdom has spared no effort to promote human rights, fight poverty and protect the local environment, Shaikha Haya said.

She stressed that the meeting confirms Bahrain’s pivotal role in enhancing global peace and security.

In a video message, president of the current session of UN Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi, reviewed the challenges the world is currently going through at all levels, calling for more concerted efforts to overcome them, and provide a real, true and sustainable environment for all peoples.

He expressed hope that the meeting will be a new platform capable of enhancing the values and principles of the UN, and pushing them forward by taking advantage of the accumulated experiences of former presidents and their future vision.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, also addressed the meeting. He expressed thanks and appreciation to the King for the invitation to hold the meeting in Bahrain.

In his video message, the UN chief asserted that the world is currently facing a wide range of challenges, including the fast-changing digital world, as technology is transforming every aspect of our lives.

He stressed the need to ensure that technology does not create any kind of inequality, highlighting the importance of reducing the risks that modern digital technologies can cause, especially mis- and disinformation and hate speech.

He also warned of abusing personal data, which is used to ‘boost profits and manipulate behaviour’, calling for the need to ‘establish new standards that improve cyber protection, prevent information breaches and stop illegal surveillance’.

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