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National statements

Statement to the UN General Assembly regarding disarmament measures and international security

Thematic issues

  • Human Rights
  • Humanitarian

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: FIRST COMMITTEE

Thematic statement on other disarmament measures and international security

Statement by HE Mr Peter Woolcott, Australian Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva and Ambassador
for Disarmament

Mr Chairman,

Australia, like all other Member States, has a growing interest in cyberspace
as a vital platform for commercial, intellectual and social exchange.

Australia supports the commencement of an international dialogue on the development
of international norms for cyber. Such a dialogue is needed; the current international
consideration of cyber issues lacks coherence.

Admittedly, this type of dialogue is difficult to have in the United Nations
framework, because the topic, in its many different dimensions, does not fit
readily into the UNGA's Committee structure. Cyberspace covers a range
of issues, only some of which relate to international security and the First
Committee's work.

We all know that developing international norms is a long-term enterprise.
We expect the task of developing international norms for cyberspace to be particularly
challenging.

We need a balanced and pragmatic discussion which separates out the many different cyber issues and identifies an appropriate international path for each of them within the UN system. Australia considers that this is possible.

Mr Chairman,

Australia takes this opportunity to set out clearly some of our principles
on cyber issues. Australia's starting point is that existing international
law, including laws relating to the use of force and international humanitarian
law, applies to the international security aspects of cyberspace. This body
of law cannot be ignored; it needs to be built upon and elaborated as it relates
to cyber.

Secondly, many of the concepts and terms used in relation to this issue are
unclear or not readily or easily understood. A common understanding between
Member States is necessary for a meaningful dialogue. There is clearly a need
to do much, very basic work in this area.

Thirdly, Australia supports the existing multi-stakeholder governance framework
for the internet and does not support control of the internet by governments.
The private sector, which built and owns much of the internet, is critical to
its continuing success.

Lastly, Australia is committed to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
These are rights protected under international human rights law. Great care
needs to be taken in seeking to qualify such rights by reference to national
laws of individual states.

Mr Chairman,

As we have said, an international dialogue can help clarify what needs to be
done by the international community to develop norms for cyberspace. For that
reason, Australia looks forward to the International Conference on Cyberspace
in London in November which we hope will help set an international agenda on
cyber. Australia also hopes that the Group of Governmental Experts to be established
in 2012 under resolution 65/41 can further contribute to this issue in ways
which build upon the consensus established by the 2010 GGE report.

Last Updated: 5 June 2015
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