Cyber Norms and the United Nations: Between Strategic Ambiguity and Rules of the Road

3 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2021

See all articles by Dennis Broeders

Dennis Broeders

Institute for Security and Global Affairs, Leiden University

Fabio Cristiano

Utrecht University

Date Written: April 2, 2020

Abstract

‘Cyberspace’ became a UN issue in 1998 when Russia first tabled a resolution on ‘Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security’ with the aim of starting negotiation of a treaty to regulate the possible use of ICTs in international conflict. Interestingly, what Russia feared most at that time was the ‘development, production or use of particularly dangerous forms of information weapons’, i.e. information warfare, which is arguably what Russia is best at today. Most Western states – in this debate often grouped under the term ‘likeminded states’ – did not want to go down the route of negotiating a multilateral treaty. In their view cyberspace did not substantially differ from the offline world and thus standing international law would be sufficient for its regulation. The compromise between these positions was the start of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security’ (commonly referred to as UN GGE). In 2002 the first UN GGE went to work. Since then, a succession of six different working groups has contributed, through ups and downs, to fostering the role of the United Nations as a normative power in the promotion of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace.

Keywords: United Nations, cyberspace, UN GGE, UN OEWG

Suggested Citation

Broeders, Dennis and Cristiano, Fabio, Cyber Norms and the United Nations: Between Strategic Ambiguity and Rules of the Road (April 2, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3819171 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3819171

Dennis Broeders

Institute for Security and Global Affairs, Leiden University ( email )

Turfmarkt 99
The Hague, Zuid Holland 2511 DP
Netherlands

Fabio Cristiano (Contact Author)

Utrecht University ( email )

Drift 6
Utrecht, 3512 BS
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.uu.nl/staff/FCristiano

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