6th Meeting of the third session of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG)

10 Mar 2021 21:00h - 23:00h

Event report

The sixth meeting of the third substantive session of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security saw delegations of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Zimbabwe, Argentina, and Ecuador take the floor to discuss several points with regards to the OEWG First Draft Report. 

International law

The latest GGE report was adopted by consensus in 2015, but that consensus was made six years ago and belongs to the past, the Islamic Republic of Iran noted. It has been contested  by many delegations several times and does not present a legally binding obligation that lasts forever. Delegations have to consider their previous positions, Iran stated.

Negotiating a legally binding international legal instrument to govern the ICT domain should be one of the objectives of the OEWG process, Zimbabwe stated. While the general principles of international law, norms, and custom apply, they do not guarantee a stable peaceful rule-based global ICT environment, because this environment is unique, specialised, and technical in nature. The report should therefore reflect the collective aspiration to move towards negotiations for an international legally binding instrument.

Addressing the use of force in self-defence in the context of Art. 51 of the UN Charter in the case of cross-border ICT infringement was dubbed a controversial topic by Zimbabwe. The delegation shared their belief that the OEWG is not competent to discuss, much less reach a consensus at this stage.

Regular institutional dialogue

It is essential not to duplicate the channels of discussion and create a permanent forum that will be inclusive and transparent to work on different packages of issues at different speeds in order to reach a consensus on conflictive areas, Argentina stressed. The delegation expressed their support for the creation of the PoA, describing it as ‘essential to ensure more predictability, transparency, and stability in cyberspace’. In their view, the next OEWG can be an available space to discuss details and continue providing support for the PoA to achieve a permanent institutional forum for dialogue.

Argentina and Ecuador also endorsed the draft paragraph 75 on the PoA. Iran, on the other hand, stressed that the proposal for the creation of the PoA was given special priority over other proposals and ideas. The delegation noted all proposals should be referred to the next OEWG.

Discussion section

Delegations stated their views on keeping Section C of the First Draft Report in the report, as well as rules, norms, and principles. Iran’s perspective is that Section C is too short to reflect the views of all delegations. It should be taken out of the first draft along with the non-paper on rules, norms, and principles and be referred to the next OEWG. 

Zimbabwe reiterated this point, but also noted that the delegation would also accept that Section C and the non-paper on rules, norms, and principles can be made into a Chair’s summary or a Chair’s report. 

Argentina also noted that, given that Section C picks up on the diversity of the discussion on many issues, it can be made into a Chair’s summary or a Chair’s report. The delegation of Ecuador acknowledged they would accept such an outcome but stated they would prefer it to remain part of the report due to the importance of its sections of international law and regular institutional dialogue.

The section on rules, norms, and principles should come after the section on international law, Argentina stated, as these rules, norms, and principles were developed under the framework provided by international law.