Open Forum on Conflict Prevention, Cooperation and Stability

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Open Forum 43

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[Read more session reports and updates from the 14th Internet Governance Forum]

The session contextualised cyberstability as a means for ensuring progress, stability, and security in cyberspace and identified transparency and human rights as fundamental features to achieve it.

Cyberstability is considered as an indispensable requirement for a safe, stable, and secure cyberspace and as an enabler of economic progress and innovation. As Ms Latha Reddy (Co-Chair, GCSC, former Deputy National Security Advisory, India) recalled, without stability, there is no peace nor security.

The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC) aims to achieve such stability through its framework of voluntary norms, adherence to international law, confidence-building measures, capacity building, and the widespread use of technical standards. The commission has advanced eight norms, among which the following stand out as fostering cyberstability: the norm to not damage the public core of the Internet; the norm to not allow the infrastructure relating to all electoral processes to be disrupted; and the norm on cyber hygiene. As Reddy further explained, the work of the GCSC has been prominent in creating awareness, but further efforts are required to create such stability. It should be recognised that making systems safe is a shared responsibility. Mr Wolfram von Heynitz (Head, Cyberpolicy Coordination Staff, German Federal Foreign Office) added that geopolitical tensions hamper further progress in discussions on how international law applies to cyberspace, that should build up on the consensus expressed by the approval of the 2015 report of the UN GGE.

During the session, it was generally agreed that strengthening capacity-building measures and co-operation among different stakeholders fosters cyberstability. As Mr Sithuraj Ponraj (Director, International Cyberpolicy Office, Cyber Security Agency, Singapore) highlighted, it is necessary to identify current gaps in the existing framework and address them through capacity-building mechanisms.

Decision making is often done at a multilateral level and it requires more transparency mechanisms to be effective and accountable, as Mr Matthew McDermott (Chief Business Development Officer, Access Partnership) explained. As Ms Deborah Brown (Global Policy Efficacy Lead, Association for Progressive Communications (APC)) alerted, in spite of the essential role that academia, the technical community and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have a role to play in complying with norms and in addressing threats, but many NGOs that have no ECOSOC accreditation were not allowed to participate in the multistakeholder discussions of the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG).

A human-centric approach plays an important role in the process. Transparency, as a friend of cybersecurity, was proposed as a framework by McDermott, and complemented by Brown who argued that human rights are also friends of cybersecurity.

By Stefania Grottola

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