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Cyber affairs

Public consultation: Responsible state behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security at the United Nations

Notice: Submissions on Responsible state behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security at the United Nations have now closed. Thank you to those who made a submission. Interested stakeholders were invited to participate in further consultations via video conference on 29 April (details below).

Overview

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is consulting to inform Australia's engagement in two United Nations (UN) processes on responsible state behaviour in cyberspace.

In December 2018, the United National General Assembly (UNGA) established two processes: an inaugural Open Ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security (OEWG) (A/Res/73/27 [PDF]); and, a sixth Group of Governmental Experts on advancing responsible state behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security (GGE) (A/Res/73/266 [PDF]).

The groups present an important opportunity to promote a peaceful and stable online environment and enhance international security. Australia is a member of both groups.

Background: Framework for Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace

Cumulatively the 2010, 2013 and 2015 GGE outcome reports (A/65/201 [PDF]; A/68/98 [PDF]; and A/70/174 [PDF]) affirm that existing international law – and in particular, the Charter of the United Nations in its entirety – is applicable and essential to maintaining peace and stability and promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT environment. The reports also articulate voluntary non-binding norms of responsible state behaviour, while recognising the need for confidence building measures (CBMs), and coordinated capacity building. Combined, these measures (international law, norms, CBMs and capacity building) provide the basis for a peaceful and stable cyberspace, and are often referred to as a Framework for Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace (the Framework).

Australia reaffirms its commitment to act in accordance with the cumulative GGE reports from 2010, 2013 and 2015. Recalling that in 2015 the UNGA called on all UN Member States 'to be guided in their use of information and communications technologies by the [GGE's] 2015 report' (A/RES/70/237 [PDF]), the links on the International security and cyberspace at the UN webpage provide an overview of how Australia observes and implements the four pillars of the Framework.

A key Australian objective is for the inaugural OEWG and/or the sixth GGE to provide practical guidance on implementation of the agreed norms of responsible state behaviour, backed up by recommendations on better coordinating global cyber capacity building, so that all countries are in a position to observe and implement the Framework.

Call for submissions

In December 2019, DFAT published a call for submissions to its Public Consultation Responsible state behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security at the United Nations. Initial consultation concluded on 28 January 2020.

Public Consultation - Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace in the Context of International Security at the United Nations [PDF]

We received 15 submissions in response to the Call for Submissions. Submissions have been published below. DFAT sincerely thanks those who made a submission.

Compilation of norm implementation guidance

This document contains verbatim excerpts from those public submissions which provided examples and suggestions of best practice implementation of one, some or all of the agreed norms of responsible state behaviour set out in the 2015 GGE report (A/70/174), as endorsed by the UN General Assembly (A/RES/70/237). Full versions of the submissions can be found below.

Submission from Organisation / individual

Consultations

DFAT held further consultations via video conference to discuss the submissions as well as responses to the OEWG’s pre-draft report. The consultations will continue to inform Australia’s engagement in the OEWG and GGE.

Date: Wednesday 29 April 2020

Time: 3 pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time)

Contact

Requests for further information should be directed to CyberAffairs@dfat.gov.au

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