Trust and Security digest (October 2020)

2 Nov 2020

This extract is taken from the October 2020 issue of The digest, GPD’s newsletter. Sign up here.


October updates from the OEWG

At the end of September, the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) held the second in a round of informal intersessionals to capture member state input into the early drafts (the revised non-paper and pre-draft) of the OEWG report.

Although no NGOs were allowed to attend, we heard that the session passed with little turmoil, despite concerns that the topic of “international law” would incite strong disagreement among states.

Lines of disagreement regarding the applicability of international humanitarian law in cyberspace remained a source of contention but were less prominent than expected—perhaps because one of most vocal states on the issue, China, is currently seeking support for its own proposal for a new binding agreement on data flows in cyberspace. Discussions relating to the France-led “Programme of Action proposal” (which we covered in the last Digest and which has since been published on the OEWG webpage), also took place, and it seems like the proposal is gaining momentum and broad-based support. However, upcoming discussions in the First Committee that will set the stage for the coming years look as fraught as they were two years ago (when competing resolutions set up parallel processes), as this piece from CFR highlights.

In October, civil society groups, along with members of the technical community, released joint feedback on the text on ‘norms’ in the OEWG’s current draft text. The feedback calls for the already adopted GGE norms (from the 2015 report) to be prioritised, and offers guidance and good practice on the implementation of the norms from a human-centric perspective.

Unfortunately, as our friends at Reaching Critical Will have reported, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting changes to the UN’s working methods are driving a further closing of civic space at the UN’s disarmament forums—and the OEWG is no exception. In order to circumvent those restrictions and ensure meaningful engagement of non-governmental stakeholders in the OEWG discussions, a group of states and NGOs, including GPD, are working collectively on a series of multistakeholder events (to be held in December) based on the OEWG’s agenda and mandate, in order to collect non-governmental stakeholder input into the revised non-paper and pre-draft. We’ll keep you updated as plans for those events shape up in the coming month.

Finally, on the topic of closing civic space, GPD signed onto a joint civil society letter to the UN Secretary General, calling for a more open and inclusive dialogue on the implementation of the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.

Related news

  • October was Cybersecurity Awareness Month—which saw GPD participate in a range of events. Notably, our Senior Programme Lead Daniela Schnidrig discussed GPD’s approach to cyber and our recently launched Toolkit for inclusive and value based cyber policymaking in two webinars organised by the Internet Society’s Cybersecurity Special Interest Groups as part of their Global Cyber Forum—one aimed at stakeholders in Latin America and the Caribbean, and one aimed at stakeholders in Sub-Saharan Africa (recording here). She also attended a live panel discussion organised by Get Safe Online with the British High Commissioner to Belize, alongside representatives of the National Security Council Secretariat of Belize and the Organization of American States (recording here).