Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security

The issue of information security has been on the UN agenda since the Russian Federation in 1998 first introduced a draft resolution in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly. It was adopted without a vote ( A/RES/53/70 )

Since that time there have been annual reports by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly with the views of UN Member States on the issue:

In addition there have been three Groups of Governmental Experts (GGE) that have examined the existing and potential threats from the cyber-sphere and possible cooperative measures to address them. A first successful GGE report was issued in 2010 ( A/65/201 ).

In 2011 the General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution ( A/RES/66/24 ) calling for a follow-up to the last GGE. The GGE was tasked to continue to study existing and potential threats in the sphere of information security and possible cooperative measures to address them, taking into account the assessments and recommendations contained in the 2010 Report and was asked to report to the 68th session of the General Assembly in September 2013.

The report of the 2012/13 Group of Governmental Experts was issued as document A/68/98*

In his forward to the new report, the UN Secretary-General notes “I appreciate the report’s focus on the centrality of the Charter of the United Nations and international law as well as the importance of States exercising responsibility. The recommendations point the way forward for anchoring ICT security in the existing framework of international law and understandings that govern State relations and provide the foundation for international peace and security.” He adds “As the group notes, the United Nations plays an important role in promoting dialogue among Member States on the issue of security in the use of ICTs and in further developing international cooperation in this field.”

On 27 December 2013, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted resolution 68/243, in which it took note of the outcome of the 2012/2013 GGE and requested the Secretary-General to establish a new GGE that would report to the General Assembly in 2015. The new GGE, with 20 experts, held four meetings between July 2014 and June 2015. Experts from the following Member States participated in the GGE: Belarus, Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Spain, United Kingdom and United States of America. Mr. Carlos Luís Dantas Coutinho Perez (Brazil) chaired the Group.

The Group agreed on a substantive consensus report to be sent to the Secretary-General on norms, rules or principles of the responsible behaviour of States in the cyber-sphere as well as confidence building measures, international cooperation and capacity building which could have wider application to all States. It also addresses how International Law applies to the use of information and communications technologies and also makes recommendations for future work. It will be released later this summer and presented to the General Assembly in September.

The most recent resolution of the General Assembly on this issue was adopted without a vote on 2 December 2014