Conflict Prevention, Peace building and Mediation

Key Messages – United Nations Open-ended Working Group on ICT: Concluding Session

New York, 12/03/2021 - 23:54, UNIQUE ID: 210312_43
Statements on behalf of the EU

12 March 2021, New York - European Union Statement at the 75th United Nations General Assembly OEWG on ICT, Concluding Session

Mr. Chair

I have the honour to deliver the statement on behalf of the EU and its Member States. The Candidate Countries Turkey, 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 Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine align themselves with this statement.


Mr. Chair

The EU and its Member States would like to wholeheartedly thank you and your team for your tireless effort to square the circle and elaborate under difficult circumstances a final report of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG). In particular under these special circumstances of a pandemic.

We also would like to thank all of the State representatives in this virtual room for their contributions, the exchange of views and for the final efforts and compromises to be able to conclude on a consensus report.

We sincerely hope that our collective efforts will pay off and that later afternoon we would be able to approve a document that will make us all equally, although not exclusively, dissatisfied which is always a sign of an acceptable and balanced compromise.

Therefore, the EU and its Member States in the spirit of compromise can agree on the report, which is a milestone and a collective reaffirmation of the achievements of the past UN GGEs , and which with sufficient political will on all sides could support further consensus discussions in the United Nations on this important topic.

The world outside of this virtual room, with real, analogue people, expects us to reach compromises, and to come up with a consensus, which enhances security and stability in cyberspace and that allow all to live their lives safely online and offline.


Mr. Chair

Please allow me for the record to share some points with you, which are known to you and the colleagues as compromises that we have made in view of the consensus report today.

We suppose that you and all colleagues, having carefully studied the EU's repeated positions, can identify where the EU and its Member States would have preferred to move the needle a bit further.

Without undermining our support to the report, we are of the view that paragraph 80 does not reflect a balanced final observation accepted by all.

The EU and its Member States stress the importance of the reaffirmation that a universal cyber security framework can only be grounded in existing international law, including the Charter of the United Nations in its entirety, international humanitarian law, and human rights and fundamental freedoms, all of which apply in cyberspace.

The EU and its Member States are pleased that the report reaffirms the universal normative framework for cyberspace that already exists, notably by reaffirming resolution 70/237 and that States widely acknowledge it, and agreed to continue their work to advance its active implementation.

To this end, 51 co-sponsors have promoted the establishment of a permanent Programme of Action (PoA) to Advance Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace, and are glad to see its importance recognized in the conclusions of the report.

The “Cyber PoA” will offer us as the international community the opportunity, in line with the conclusions of the report, to develop, jointly, an action-oriented process that builds on previous outcomes, and the outcome of today, and be inclusive, transparent, consensus-driven and results-based.

The EU and its Member States commend the we are concluding today with a report that reaffirms that we are not starting from scratch, and allows us to continue to build the framework grounded in existing international law, including the Charter of the United Nations in its entirety, the international humanitarian law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The EU and its Member States would also like to point out that the order in which the international law and voluntary norms are presented in the report should not be understood as reflecting the hierarchical order between the two. International law guides the development of norms, which do not replace or alter States’ obligations or rights under international law. Voluntary norms rather provide additional specific guidance on what constitutes responsible State behaviour in the use of ICTs, and we therefore support the proposals to survey and support the implementation of the 11 norms agreed by consensus.

Finally, let me please highlight an important section of the report, with which we are specifically content, as it underlines the importance of capacity building as a means to strengthen resilience globally, with particular attention to developing countries.

We agree that an important function of capacity building is to enable the implementation of the agreed normative framework for responsible state behaviour in cyberspace, and support the recognition that capacity-building activities for an open, free, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT environment go hand-in-hand with activities to implement the normative framework.

To this end, we attach particular importance to the inclusion of the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the list of principles related to the implementation of capacity building activities, and in the design of capacity-building projects.

We further support the call for better coordination for enhancing coherence in capacity building efforts in the use of ICTs to close the digital divide. In that sense, the Cyber PoA should serve as a solid and action-oriented basis for further work.


Mr. Chair,

The EU and its Member States once more reiterate our readiness to crown our work by consensual adoption of a meaningful and action-oriented report and are ready to accept the existing version and focus on future work building on the foundations you created.

Thank you and your team once again for all your time and effort invested.  

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