USA and 26 countries issue joint statement on responsible behaviour in cyberspace

The US State Department issued the joint statement on advancing responsible state behaviour in cyberspace, affirmed by 26 other countries – its Five Eyes partners, 18 out of 28 EU states (including Germany and France), as well as Norway, Japan, South Korea, and Columbia. With it, the signatories reaffirm support to the “evolving framework of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace, which supports the international rules-based order, affirm the applicability of international law to state-on-state behaviour, adherence to voluntary norms of responsible state behaviour in peacetime, and the development and implementation of practical confidence building measures to help reduce the risk of conflict stemming from cyber incidents”, as well as to the targeted capacity building support to ‘responsible states’ for implementation of this framework and protecting own networks. The signatories, however, also underline that they will, ‘when necessary’, work together on a voluntary basis to hold states that act contrary to this framework accountable, “including by taking measures that are transparent and consistent with international law”, in order to ensure consequences for ‘bad behaviour’. In his brief reflection, Spokeperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Geng Shuang assessed that this statement artificially divides cyberspace into “peaceful times” and “non-peaceful times”, and serves to justify offensive military operations by some countries, which tend to ‘turn the cyber domain into a new theatre of war’.