Delegation of the European Union to Nicaragua

EU Statement – United Nations Open-ended Working Group on ICT in the context of International Security

New York, 19/02/2021 - 18:33, UNIQUE ID: 210223_23
Statements on behalf of the EU

19 February 2021, New York – European Union Statement at the United Nations Open-ended Working Group Virtual session on the Zero-draft (18th-22nd February 2021)

Mr. Chairman,


I have the honour to speak on behalf the EU and it Member States.

The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.


The EU and its Member States would like to thank the Chair and his team for their tireless effort and for the presented “zero-draft” report of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on developments in the field of Information and Telecommunication (ICTs) in the context of international security.


The thorough zero-draft report reflects the rich and substantive discussions among the Members of the OEWG, and does so in a balanced manner.


The EU and its Member States, however, believe that the zero-draft report could even further emphasize the widespread acknowledgement that the international community is not starting from scratch, and that the consecutive reports of the UN Group of Governmental Experts (UNGGE) endorsed by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) are the foundation to provide guidance for additional discussions and recommendations. To this end, conclusions and recommendations sections throughout the report could further highlight these agreed basis of our deliberations.


The EU and its Member States reaffirm that a framework of responsible State behaviour in cyberspace can only be grounded in existing international law, including the Charter of the United Nations in its entirety, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law.


In this regard, the 2013 and 2015 GGE consensus reports constitute the baseline for our discussion. States reaffirmed the importance of the eleven voluntary, non-binding norms of responsible State behaviour contained in the 2015 GGE report, adopted by consensus in resolution 70/237. This was universally acknowledged during the meetings and should be acknowledged as such in the report.


The EU and its Member States are of the view that the zero-draft report should more clearly emphasize on this established and agreed framework.

At the same time, the EU and its Member States see merit to reflect more profoundly in the report some proposals, notably those on which we heard broad support. 


In this regard the EU and its Member States recall their support to proposals by Netherlands, Croatia, France, Finland and Slovenia. Furthermore, we support the joint proposal by Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, France, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pacific Island Forum member states, Poland, and South Africa to invite Member States, on a voluntary basis, to survey their national implementation of UNGA resolution 70/23.


The EU and its Member States further support the initiative by Australia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Japan, Kazakhstan and the United States of America, in response to the COVID-19 crisis to consider the healthcare sector as critical infrastructure under the applicable norms.


The EU and its Member States take note of the proposal made by Canada and support the approach taken to add to the additional layer of understanding with the inclusion of the proposals from the previous paragraph.


The EU and its Member States agree with the important function of capacity building to enable the implementation of the normative framework for stability in cyberspace, and to strengthen cyber security and global resilience


For instance, building capacity in order for States to develop their own understanding of how international law applies to the use of ICTs is therefore crucial and is supported by the EU. Many of the existing capacity-building projects are aiming at also sharing best practices of States legislative frameworks and policies.


The international community called for a greater coordination in view to advance stability in cyberspace. The EU and its Member States support the recommendation to establish a PoA, which includes such objectives.


The proposal, cosponsored by 48 States, of establishing a Program of Action to advance responsible state behaviour in cyberspace is further supporting a number of aforementioned objectives, such as discussions on how international law applies in cyberspace, implementation of norms of responsible State behaviour, sharing best practices on development of confidence building measures, as well as a greater coordinated approach on capacity building.


The PoA constitutes the most interesting proposal on the table to going back to a one-track process based on consensus. It offers the opportunity to work together towards an inclusive, more permanent and constructive environment with the whole UN Membership. The PoA is action driven and moves towards implementation. It would allow our work to progress, including on the pertinent and pressing problem of increasing cyber incidents, strengthening the normative framework and facilitating cyber capacity building.


The EU and its Member States welcome the recommendation to encourage States to consider foreseen report’s conclusions and recommendations, including the Programme of Action to Advance Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace, under the auspices of the United Nations.


The EU and its Member States welcome the current working methods proposed by the OEWG Chair, notably to address in an open exchange the zero-draft report of the OEWG Chair. Such a way forward will help us to adopt a clear and balanced final report.


We expressed our commitment, through the remaining intersessional meetings and the final OEWG session, to adopt, by consensus, a comprehensive and realistic outcome document.


In support of this aim, the EU and its Member States will submit in a due course to the Chair, and in copy to all participants, a written contribution on the zero-draft report.


Mr. Chair,


Before concluding, I would like to thank you on behalf of the EU and its Member States for sharing the state of preparations and outlining different scenarios for the OEWG third substantive session.


The EU and its Member States are opened to positively consider the option of postponement of the meeting to a later moment, giving consideration to other scheduled conferences in the field of international peace and security, in order to further build consensus on the zero-draft report. We also believe that the postponement of the final session would make an expert-driven, transparent and inclusive process more likely. We remain flexible and ready to engage in order to successfully conclude this OEWG.


Thank you

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