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National Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council High-Level Open Debate on “Protection of Critical Infrastructure against Terrorist Attacks”


National Statement by Sweden, H.E. Ambassador Olof Skoog, at the UN Security Council High-Level Open Debate on “Protection of Critical Infrastructure against Terrorist Attacks.” Monday, February 13, 2017, New York.

Mr President, Excellencies,

Let me begin by thanking the Ukrainian Presidency of the Security Council for convening today's open debate and for conducting the consultations on the resolution that we have just adopted. The adoption of this resolution by consensus underlines the open and inclusive process that led to its agreement as well as the importance that we all attach to this vital issue. Sweden aligns itself with the statement by the European Union.

Objects of critical infrastructure have long been attractive targets for terrorist attacks. Through turning off the lights, contaminating or shutting off water supplies, or undermining individuals' willingness to travel, such attacks achieve the core objective of terrorism – to cause as much fear and disruption for individuals as possible. Large scale attacks have the potential to cause devastation to society on a grand scale. It is hard to imagine the devastating consequences that a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant could have on human lives and the environment, both in terms of immediate impact and the long-term effects.

Although each state will define what constitutes critical infrastructure in its specific national context, certain infrastructures, systems and assets are of vital importance for most states. These include air, road and rail transportation, energy and water supply, telecommunications, emergency services, industry, banking and finance. Attacks on any of these pose a real threat to national security and the ability of individuals to access the essential services that they need.

We live in an increasingly interconnected world. This is particularly true when it comes to our critical infrastructure. Interconnectivity – whether physical or in terms of communications technology – means that the ripple effects of a large attack in one country have the potential to be felt, not only in neighbouring countries, but globally.

For this reason, today's discussion is all the more timely and relevant. Efforts to protect critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks requires cooperation – across borders, across sectors and across public and private stakeholders. Regional and global approaches help build resilience and preparedness.

Mr President,

Sweden is cognizant of these threats and is taking steps in response. All public agencies are required to undertake a security analysis to identify vital critical infrastructure within its remit and to identify and assess potential risks.

The purpose of critical infrastructure protection policy in Sweden is twofold. Firstly, to improve awareness, build resilience and prevent attacks, and to respond and recover from incidents and crises where they do occur. The second aim is to increase cooperation for prevention between all relevant stakeholders, including public and private actors, as well at regional and international level.

The importance of joint exercises and training involving different actors cannot be stressed enough. In Sweden, the Counter-Terrorism Cooperation Council brings together relevant actors to jointly increase national capacity. Sweden's approach involves a broad range of domestic actors including law enforcement, intelligence and security authorities, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, sector specific agencies, regional and local authorities, and the private sector actors that own and operate critical infrastructure.

Increasing society's capacity to prevent, respond to and mitigate major IT-incidents, which could impact on the whole of society, is a priority for the Swedish government. In this regard, in 2016 we launched a national system for mandatory reporting of IT-incidents for all government agencies. In 2018, as part of the EU Directive on security in network information systems, such reporting will become mandatory, for both public and private actors, in large parts of our most vital infrastructure.

Sweden is working with its partners in the European Union to ensure a regional approach. Under article 222 of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU and its Member States are committed to acting in solidarity within any Member State that is the object of a terrorist attack. Within the framework of the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection, the EU has put in place a range of initiatives to address the protection of critical infrastructure. The EU approach is not only focused on the threats from terrorist attacks, but also on those from criminal activities, natural disasters and accidents. Having a coordinated approach within the EU is essential considering the level of interdependence amongst member-states. Sweden supports several EU programmes aimed at protecting critical infrastructure within the region. This includes efforts build capacity in disaster and risk management in the Balkans and Turkey.

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Authority is also part of a number of organisations created to improve the capacities of member states in matters related to civil protection and preparedness, such as the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the Arctic Council. The Authority also represents Sweden in the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC), which is a forum for intergovernmental cooperation in the Barents Sea area in order to support and promote regional cooperation in the northernmost parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland and the north-western parts of Russia. Iceland and Denmark are also members.

Mr President,

There must be accountability for all acts of terrorism, including by holding perpetrators, organisers, and sponsors of terrorist attacks responsible. Measures to counter terrorism must be taken in accordance with international law, including human rights law and international humanitarian law.

We welcome the fact that the resolution adopted today encourages the Counter-terrorism Committee (CTC) to continue to examine these important issues. The country visits by the Counter-terrorism Executive Directorate has resulted in valuable knowledge and expertise, and the potential for states to draw on best practices.

We must be vigilant and prepared in order to prevent and mitigate terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure and we must be ready to respond when such attacks do take place. Only by working together can we do this.


Lisa Laskaridis
Head of Press and Communication, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN
Phone +1 212 583 2543
Mobile +1 917 239 0941
email to Lisa Laskaridis