NEW YORK – 22 May 2020 – The UAE emphasized the importance of implementing confidence-building measures and for Member States that have experience in implementing existing cyber norms to share their lessons learned best practices in a UN Security Council meeting on cyber stability, capacity building and conflict prevention.
“Although the digital environment is increasingly being used for malicious activity, we should not lose sight of the enormous benefits that come with an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT environment,” Mrs. Amiera Alhefeiti, Deputy Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, stressed.
Mrs. Alhefeiti stated that the Middle East has not been immune to the risk posed by malicious cyber activity, noting that since 2012, the region has witnessed a number of disruptive attacks against oil and natural gas installations which have the potential to spark a conflict in an already tense environment. In this regard, she said that Member States should comply with international law as applicable to promote cyber stability, although questions remain on how international law applies to State activity online, how best to implement existing norms, and whether new norms are required. The UAE supports the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on ICTs and the 2019-2021 UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE), both of which are providing further guidance in this area.
At the technical level, the UAE is exchanging information with regional organizations such as the Organization for Islamic Cooperation and the Gulf Cooperation Council. Mrs. Alhefeiti added that exchanging basic information reduces the risk of miscalculation, and opening channels of communication can provide help deescalate tensions resulting from misread signals and even malicious cyber activity.
Furthermore, Mrs. Alhefeiti underscored that although cyber stability measures between States are important, all stakeholder – States, the private sector, regional organizations, and civil society – have a role in creating a trusted environment for everyone to thrive. In 2018, the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation was established to contribute to the broader public debate on cooperation across sectors and across borders to realizing the full social and economic potential of digital technologies and mitigating the risks they could pose.
The meeting was convened by UN Security Council members Estonia, Belgium, the Dominican Republic and Indonesia, as well as Kenya and opened by Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonia, and chaired by H.E. Urmas Reinsalu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia. It also featured briefings by Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs; Dr. James Lewis, Senior Vice President and the Director of Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; and David Koh, Chief Executive of Cyber Security Agency of Singapore.