Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – United Nations 1st Committee: Open-ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications

New York, 17/11/2020 - 22:27, UNIQUE ID: 201117_13
Statements on behalf of the EU

17 November 2020, New York – European Union Statement at the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Open-ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security - Third round of Informal Meetings: Confidence-building Measures

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its 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 welcome the ongoing work of the Open Ended Working Group as well as the Group of Governmental Experts and note the interruptions to the meeting schedules because of the Covid-19 pandemic. We welcome the effort of the Chairs to continue the discussion in a complementary and coordinated fashion, to promote and further build on the cumulative achievements of the previous UN GGEs.

The EU and its Member States look forward to continuing its constructive engagement in UN GGE and OEWG discussions in 2021 with a view to promoting an open, free, stable and secure cyberspace, where human rights and fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and international law are fully respected and upheld. The EU will work with all the UN Membership towards conclusions of the UN discussions that plot a path back to consensus in the First Committee process.

The EU and its Member States had hoped to avoid a contentious First Committee discussion this year as we believe our efforts should be focusing on our ongoing substantive work. The EU still maintains such a goal, prioritising one coherent and consensual approach that reaffirms consensus views, whilst including the work of previous First Committee resolutions.

Mr. Chair,

With regard to confidence-building measures (CBMs), the EU and its Member States underlined on various occasions the importance of CBMs as a practical means of preventing conflicts and avoiding escalations. We welcome that the second draft report reflects this accordingly. In particular, we welcome the emphasis on CBMs as one of the pillars of the normative framework. CBMs are concrete and effective measures to operationalise the framework for stability and cooperation in cyberspace.

The EU and its Member States take also note of many measures and priorities included in the report, either to develop further CBMs or to support the implementation of existing CBMs. All these measures highlight the importance and the role of regional organisations in developing and implementing CBMs. Regional organisations have a leading role to share best practices and support global efforts.

Although para 51 of the report underlines the significant effort of regional and sub-regional bodies in developing CBMs and suggests to explore mechanisms for regular cross-regional exchanges, we suggest to reflect the role of regional organisation and existing efforts to expand partnership better. Indeed, regional organisations contribute to building effective mechanisms of state interaction, which are essential to reducing the likelihood of conflict in cyberspace.

The EU and its Member States welcome the initiative to establish a global repository and explore mechanisms to share best practices on CBMs, in coordination with interested regional and sub-regional bodies. We believe the objective of the global repository is to facilitate the development and implementation of CBMs, including at global level without duplicating regional efforts. At the same time, it aims to advance the implementation of CBMs and facilitate the work of regional organisations, through voluntary cooperation among States and to encourage peer learning. Further clarification is however needed on the repository’s role, scope and interplay with the current mandate, in view of facilitating its establishment. It should not be with prejudice to the further development and implementation of CBMs at different levels.

Finally, we also welcome the particular attention to the roles and responsibilities of other actors, including the private sector, academia and civil society. The EU recognizes the joint effort to implement CBMs and the crucial role of these stakeholders to support this effort, where appropriate.

Mr. Chair,

I would also take the opportunity to share details on an EU roundtable on “Confidence building measures: a regional perspective, a common effort for stability in cyberspace”.

In the margins of the OSCE IWG meeting, EU organized a roundtable on enhancing regional organisation cooperation on cyber confidence building measures. OSCE, the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) were invited to share their experience.

Participants stressed the different states of implementation of CBMs within each regional organisation, or between organisations. The establishment of a network of Point of Contacts and the ability to build trust through joint exercises, was underlined as particularly crucial in the common interest of all regions. The establishment of a PoC network was a starting point in the implementation of CBMs and keeping the engagement a crucial challenge.

Regional organisations were recognised as valuable platforms to share best practices on national policies and response to ICT incidents. Panellists also noted that regions were facing different challenges, in particular linked to their diverging levels of development.

In conclusion, this roundtable demonstrated the interest to continue to encourage cooperation between regional organisations on cyber CBMs. This exchange enabled a fruitful regional exchange of experience on the development of CBMs, which can be beneficial for other regional settings. It also allowed to reflect on the different ways to implement CBMs, while noting that the political commitment of States remains primordial.

Finally, this discussion outlined options for strengthening cross-regional cooperation on CBMs, through continued dialogue, practical exercises and growing awareness between PoCs.

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