Two new resolutions on cybersecurity issues have been adopted by the UN First Committee of the General Assembly (GA): one proposed by Russia by a vote of 109 in favour to 45 against, and the other by the USA with 139 in favour to 11 against. The resolution proposed by Russia (A/C.1/73/L.27.Rev.1), which has undergone number of changes since the draft was introduced mid-October, establishes an open-ended working group, to initially convene in June 2019, which will involve all interested states, hold intersessional consultations with business, NGOs and academia, and report to the UN GA in Autumn 2020. The group is mandated to, on a consensus basis, further develop the eleven norms of the 2015 report of the GGE (spelled out again in the resolution, but with certain changes in wording comparing to the GGE report) as well as the role of private sector and civil society, and discuss their implementation; it will also discuss models for ‘regular institutional dialogue with broad participation’ under the UN. The US resolution (A/C.1/73/L.37), underlines the reports of the UN GGE (2010, 2013, and 2015), and calls for the establishment of another GGE, mandated to further study norms, confidence-building measures and capacity-building measures, taking into account effective implementation of those, to report to the UN GA in Autumn 2021. It particularly suggests that the report should contain written national submissions on how international law applies to cyberspace. It also invites UNODA to conduct consultations with regional organisations (namely AU, EU, OAS, OSCE and the ASEAN Regional Forum), and the UN GGE chair to organise two open-ended informal consultative meetings with all the interested states.
Cyber-attacks can have a background in international relations, or bring about the consequences that can escalate to a political and diplomatic level. An increasing number of states appear to be developing their own cyber-tools for the defense, offence and intelligence related to cyberconflict.
The use of cyber-weapons by states - and, more generally, the behavior of states in cyberspace in relation to maintaining international peace and security - is moving to the top of the international agenda.