Session 2-1 Transcript
(OEWG 2021-25)

This is an unofficial transcript

Ambassador Gafoor

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, good morning to all of you. The first meeting of the second substantive session of the Open-ended Working Group on security of and in the use of ICT 2021 to 2025 established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 75/240 of 31 December 2020 is called to order. Delegates, I want to extend a warm welcome to all delegations attending this meeting in person as well as those who might be following this meeting by UN Web TV. I’m happy to see that so many of you here are able to attend this meeting in person and I look forward to a very productive and substantive session this week. I’d like to acknowledge [unclear] Izumi Nakamitsu, Under Secretary General, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, to make an opening statement. Miss Izumi, please.

Izumi Nakamitsu  

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to address the second substantive session of the Open-Ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communication technologies. I will be blunt, we are meeting in difficult times. The extraordinary challenges of the past several weeks are of direct relevance to the work of this body. The use of ICTs in support of active hostilities is no longer an abstraction. It is a present reality. We have seen serious incidents involving the malicious use of ICTs, denial of service attacks on government websites and state owned media, and widespread involvement of private citizen hacktivists. There has been mobilization of national cyber emergency response capacities in reaction to this. Some may be tempted to conclude that the politics of the moment are not conducive to progress in disarmament bodies. But in fact, it is moments like this that demonstrate the critical importance of our common norms, rules and principles, and why we must continue our efforts to ensure their effective implementation and further elaboration. In this spirit, I appeal that this working group to continue its focused, practical work through an action oriented approach. I commend the efforts of the chair including his circulation of guiding questions, which focus on concrete outcomes. You will have an opportunity at this session to begin consideration of the first progress report of this working group to the General Assembly. These progress reports can be a vehicle for focused, intermediate outcomes that respond to the urgent peace and security challenges related to state use of ICTs. From my perspective, there are two priority issues that deserve particular attention at this session. The first is ensuring the protection of critical infrastructure, including the healthcare sector. In the context of the COVID19 pandemic, Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for stronger protections of the healthcare sector from malicious cyber incidents. Further work is needed on identifying what constitutes critical infrastructure in cyberspace. Considerations should also be given to specific measures to protect critical infrastructure, including through enhanced common understanding of the applicability of international law to protect civilians from cyber operations undertaken in the context of armed conflict. Second, there continues to be a need for a permanent platform to support capacity building, and implementation of existing normative framework. Such a platform could serve as a hub for national reporting, peer to peer reviews, matching these with resources and coordination amongst national points of contact. Mr. Chair, distinguished delegates, in his report Our Common Agenda, Secretary General called for measures to de-escalate cyber related risks and tensions and to protect civilian infrastructure from malicious cyber incidents as part of a new agenda for peace. The outcomes and progress reports of this working group should be used to inform the development of such measures, and thus contribute to the new agenda for peace. Before concluding, I wish to briefly touch upon the matter of participation of non-governmental entities. As is universally recognized, multistakeholder engagement is essential in the area of ICT security, where private actors own and manage much of the relevant infrastructure. I therefore hope, through the leadership of the chair, and the constructive commitment of all deligations that a consensus solution to this outstanding issue is found at the earliest possible moment. Mr. Chair, distinguished delegates, ensuring the peace and security of ICT environment is one of the most urgent and far reaching priorities on the international agenda. This working group must continue to do its part to achieve progress. Not despite current challenging international security environment, but because of it. I wish you every success with your session this week. And I thank you very much for your attention. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you very much, Mr. Nakamitsu for your statement. Please allow me now delegates to make my own opening statement. I’m happy, distinguished delegates that we are able to meet today in person, and in this conference room. I can see many familiar faces and also some new faces and I welcome all of you warmly to this meeting. For those of you who have newly joined this process, and for those of you who have traveled  from capitals I am very happy that you are able to join this meeting, and I look forward to working closely with all of you. As we begin the second substantive session, I’d like to share with you some reflections on where we are now as a process and the direction I hope that we can collectively take going forward. Firstly, as we begin our discussions this week, I’d like to invite all delegations to take a step back and reflect on the broader importance of this process. Many of you will recall that I have said many times before, that the Open-ended Working Group is not just any ordinary meeting or discussion group. Rather, the Open-ended Working Group is in fact a confidence building measure in itself. This is a point that many other delegations also made at the first substantive session of our working group in December. And even more crucially, while there are other examples of CBMs in the domain of ICT security, the Open-ended Working Group is unique as a CBM because it is universal and inclusive in nature. Today, we find ourselves in a time of many challenging international developments, and we face geopolitical tension. It is not surprising that in times of tension, many Confidence Building Measures, including the Open-ended Working Group, will naturally come under immense stress. Yet, it is important to remember that it is also precisely in times of high tension, that we need Confidence Building Measures, like the Open-ended Working Group. At this point in time, the fact is that the Open-ended Working Group is the only international process and the only ICT security CBM that we have at the global level and that includes everyone and that is open-ended and that is transparent. This makes the Open-ended Working Group in my view, a very valuable platform that we must all collectively nurture and protect. The success of the Open-ended Working Group is crucial not only because of what we can potentially achieve within this working group, but also because of what our work here ultimately represents. And crucially, the participation of all your countries in the Open-ended Working Group sends a strong signal that despite our differences, and despite the challenges we face or as Miss Nakamitsu put it, because of the challenges that we are facing it is important for the international community to send the signal that we are committed to working together, to strengthen ICT security and enhance stability in cyberspace. The second point that I want to say is that against this broader picture, the second substantive session that we are beginning today is significant, because it is both a test and signal of our collective commitment to build upon the good work of the international community in the area of ICT security. I think many of you would know that over the last 20 years, there has been a series of meetings. There have been six GGE’s, one other Open-ended Working Group, and multiple UN General Assembly resolutions. We have a clear foundation of results. And the international community has set out an initial framework of norms, rules and principles for responsible state behavior in cyberspace that has been accepted and endorsed by consensus by the General Assembly. This is a precious foundation we must protect and build upon. For us to successfully continue our work, it is imperative that we built on the discussions we had at our session in December. And I think delegations will agree that our session in December was a good start to this process. In December, many delegations came with concrete ideas, and engaged in a substantive and productive discussion. And these discussions give us a foundation to build on this week. And we need to build on the momentum to make further progress. And there are already several concrete ideas on the table from our December discussions. And these ideas, in my view are a good basis for further discussion, and I hope that delegations will work together to sharpen these ideas, and bring these ideas to fruition. Furthermore, I’m also happy to hear that several delegations have come prepared this week with additional ideas and proposals for this session, and I look forward to hearing these new ideas as well. Looking ahead, I’d like to encourage delegations who put forward ideas to go one step further, by further elaborating the ideas by putting forward specific elements of their proposal, either in writing or through their national statements. And I hope that these proposals can spur further progress by forming the basis for the drafting of our annual progress report. The third point that I’d like to share with you is that I think it’s important for us to make progress, because there are very high expectations among delegations from all parts of the world for this process to deliver concrete outcomes. Member states, including many developing countries, and small countries are anticipating that this working group can deliver results for them. I’ve heard this repeatedly in my informal consultations with many delegations. And you can tell by this very crowded conference room, that many delegations, including many smaller delegations are represented here. And they are here to participate constructively, but also in the expectation that there will be results out of this process. Many have observed that, against the odds, the first Open-ended Working Group agreed on a consensus report, representing the first time that all member states collectively reached a global understanding on international ICT security. And the expectation therefore, is there for us now, to build on that understanding and to implement the recommendations and continue discussing elements that have yet to garner consensus. Beyond member states, individuals and organizations and non-governmental organizations around the world are also watching to see what the Open-ended Working Group can achieve. There are numerous non-state actors at the frontlines of ICT security. These actors ranging from private businesses and industry associations, to non governmental organizations and academic researchers are currently doing a huge amount of work. Good work, I should say, to advance ICT security. But it is clear that these frontline actors cannot protect cyberspace alone. It is important to them that Member States and the international community do our part to elaborate a comprehensive global understanding on ICT security by building on the foundation of norms, rules and principles that we have already agreed. At the core, what we decide in this group will have important implications for the international community. And through this Open-ended Working Group, it is important that the international community speaks with a clear voice to provide direction and guidance for these actors as they continue their crucial work. And it is my hope that our working group will deliver on all these expectations through leadership by example. And I know that your delegations have invested time and energy in this process. And many of your representatives have travelled long distances to attend this session this week, because you believe that this process has the potential to deliver concrete results for your countries, of course, and also for the international community. And it is our responsibility in this working group to set out the way forward for all actors, both state and non-state alike, so that we can all fully benefit from the potential of ICTs while mitigating the risks that cyber threats posed to international peace and security. The fourth point that I want to share is that, I’m approaching this second session with a view to identifying suitable elements for inclusion in our annual progress report. And here, I’d like to recall that in accordance with resolution 75/240, we are required to submit for adoption by consensus, an annual progress report. And I hope we can adopt the annual progress report at the third substantive session, which is scheduled in July. And thereafter, it is my hope that the annual progress report can be submitted to the First Committee. The annual progress report is an important part of our process, as our hard work here in this working group will only be tangible if we can record the progress we have made. One possibility, is to work towards a fairly short and succinct report that captures key elements of consensus on concrete and specific ideas that we can decisively move forward on. And in this regard, my aim and hope is to produce an annual progress report that supports our vision of an action oriented and results focus working group. My fifth point is that, in line with my intention to capture specifics and concrete ideas, I specifically hope that delegations will make further progress in this substantive session by moving from the what, to the how. In December, I recall that many delegations identified what needed to be done across the different subtopics in the working groups mandate. This is an important task which our working group has achieved, but we cannot stop there. Now, I’d like to go deeper by focusing on how we can achieve what needs to be done. That is the challenge that I’m asking delegations to reflect on as we kick off this second session. And in this spirit, I hope delegations will take up some of the ideas raised in December. [Interruption cut] In this spirit, I hope delegations will take up some of the ideas raised in December, and develop those ideas further. And in this way, work together to increase our common understanding of the many ideas that have been put forward. The sixth and final point that I wanted to make is that I would like to give delegations an update on the important issue of modalities for the participation of stakeholders in the Open-ended Working Group. Now, delegations would be aware that the working group has spent many hours and much energy on this issue and I have been, as chair of the working group spent the last nine months working on this issue, devoting as much time as possible. My sense is that no delegation has disagreed with the necessity for the working group to engage interested stakeholders. But delegations have been unable to agree on the specific form, such engagement with stakeholders should take. On my part, as chair of the process, I have been clear, right from the beginning, that it is of utmost importance for this working group to have systematic, sustained and substantive stakeholder engagement. Therefore, reaching consensus on modalities for stakeholder participation is crucial to the realization of this vision. In this regard, I believe it is my responsibility as Chair to continue to do my utmost to facilitate a consensus solution. And I’m organizing an informal meeting tomorrow, Tuesday at lunchtime. And this is something I had mentioned to delegations during the informal briefing two weeks ago. Now, the current situation is unfortunate and it is not something that makes me very happy. But despite all the efforts of all of us in the working group over the last nine months, we are no closer to consensus on a way forward than we were when we started. There were several ideas that were discussed, specific ideas, but they were not able to garner consensus. I believe it is important to say at this point that a compromise is possible, but it has to be something that will enjoy the support of all delegations. But we also will require all delegations to show flexibility in order to arrive at a consensus. As chair of this working group, I remain fully committed to continuing my work this week, on the issue of stakeholder modalities, even as we continue discussions on substance, but ultimately, I am in your hands. And I look forward to receiving your guidance and support as we continue discussions on modalities for stakeholder participation. Once again, let me thank all of you for your participation and constructive approach. And I thank you for your presence at this session. I’d like to now at this point, remind delegations that as the working group, we adopted our agenda in June 2021, as contained in document A/AC.292/2021/1 and as all of you know, the working group decided to conduct its work in accordance with the rules of procedure of the main committees of the General Assembly, while acting on a consensus basis, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 75/240. Now, delegations have before them improvisional programme of work of the second substantive session, as contained in document A/AC.292/2022/1. As I explained in my letter dated 7 March and also at the informal briefing on 18 March. The program of work has been structured in accordance with the agenda that was adopted for the working group. And the Program of Work also takes into account the chapter headings of the previous working groups report to ensure continuity and to build on the discussions of the previous working group. I also want to say that the virtual open-ended informal meeting in the program of work that is now scheduled on the afternoon of the 31st of March, which is the open-ended informal meeting with stakeholders is an initiative on my part as chair. And in my letter dated 24 March, I had also set guiding questions for both member states and interested stakeholders. And this informal virtual meeting with stakeholders will be a thematic meeting focused on the topic of capacity building, and it will fit into I hope, our own substantive discussions on capacity building. I realized very much and this is the fundamental point that the Open-ended Working Group is indeed an intergovernmental process. There is no doubt about that. And decisions will be made by governments and not stakeholders that much is very clear. But I think it’s still important that as we begin our discussions and make decisions as governments, that it is important to enrich our discussions by participating and engaging with stakeholders. Now, having made these explanatory comments with regard to the provisional program of work, may I take it that the working group agrees with the program of work as contained in document A/AC.292/2022/1. I see the United Kingdom you have the floor please.

United Kingdom  

Chair, I wish to make a point of order. But before I do so, the UK opens its contribution to these discussions by condemning Russia’s unprovoked, premeditated and barbaric attack against a sovereign democratic state of Ukraine. Much has already been said on this topic at the Security Council at UNGA and even in specialized agencies of the UN. So why would we discuss it here in the OEWG? Chair for many years states have supported the assessment of the 2015 GGE report that the use of ICTs in future conflicts between states is becoming more likely. We have stressed that is in the interest of all states to prevent conflict rising from the use of information and communication technologies. And we have expressed concern that these technologies and means can potentially be used for purposes that are inconsistent with the objectives of maintaining international stability and security. In conflicts around the world, we have begun to see the use of cyber capabilities by states. Under Secretary General Nakamitsu has highlighted the direct relevance to the work of this group. Today we see a permanent member of the UN Security Council with sophisticated cyber capabilities showing its true colors, trampling the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, using cyber capabilities and information wars to undermine international peace and security. This is the moment that we test our commitment to 23 years of discussions on responsible state behavior in cyberspace. This is a moment that we look at the framework we have developed together and ask whether we are upholding our commitments. The UK is committed to our shared framework, where states abuse that framework, we will say so. Where we can do more to implement it and protect all states from malicious activity in cyberspace, we will do that too. We cannot shy away from it. This conflict is a key test for our work together here. There could be no business as usual. Chair, we stand with the Ukrainian government and the 141 states who voted on the second of March by an overwhelming majority to condemn Russians invasions of Ukraine, for freedom, democracy and the sovereignty of states around the world. Chair on modalities, we extend our heartfelt thanks to yourself, your team, and all who have participated in our continued efforts to reach a compromise solution on the issue of modalities for stakeholder participation in this OEWG. We very much regret that this issue remains outstanding and hope we will resolve it shortly. We will engage fully in your work here this week. However, adopting the programme of work would signify that all parties have agreed modalities for this process. We therefore kindly request that this agenda item remains open until we have reached that agreement. As shown in December, the UK is committed to continuing substantive discussions in the OEWG. Thank you Chair.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement I give now the floor to The United States.

United States  

Thank you Chair. Good morning colleagues. I also come here today with shaken faith and a heavy heart. Member states established the Open-ended Working Group to improve international stability in cyberspace. This goal is laudable. But it presumes that member states want to act responsibly. It presumes that states want to avoid conflict and prevent civilian suffering stemming from the use of cyber tools and conflict when it occurs. We would like to believe that these are indeed universal goals. Of course, hope is not a strategy and principles without good faith partnership can only take us so far. Russia has made a mockery of its pretensions to lead on cyber issues at the United Nations. As we speak, it is carrying out a premeditated, unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine, violating international law and creating a humanitarian crisis, the likes of which we have not seen in Europe for decades. The United States has seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities. Russia’s forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded. Many of the sites Russia’s forces have hit had been clearly identifiable as in use by civilians. In one case, Russia’s forces struck a building marked in letters visible from the sky with the Russian world word for children. The international community is rightly holding Russia accountable for its shocking behavior in Ukraine. The situation is horrifying, and it is not something I expected to witness in today’s world. UN member states have worked for more than two decades on conflict prevention in cyberspace. In the last decade, we achieved hard won consensus. Affirming the applicability of international law, including the UN Charter, to state behavior in cyberspace. We have developed a comprehensive framework to guide states in their behavior in cyberspace. Based on its unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine, its flagrant violations of international law, and its use of cyber tools in the context of that conflict. We can only conclude that Russia’s true goal for this process is to create a framework all other states must abide by, but one which it will ignore. This process here today does not belong to Russia. It belongs to every member state that seeks to preserve stability in cyberspace. It belongs to every stakeholder that benefits from an open, interoperable, secure and reliable internet for all. And it belongs to every one of us, who was engaged for years in good faith, and contributed ideas to this process. It remains my belief and my hope, that most of us here want to be responsible actors in cyberspace. The work that we’ve done in the UN for the last two decades is incredibly valuable in that regard. The universally affirmed framework for responsible state behavior and cyberspace articulated in the GGE and OEWG reports enables us to better hold irresponsible states accountable for their cyber behavior. And I’ve come here this week, to work with all states who want to improve international cyber stability. We must continue our work, even though our faith may be shaken. Turning to the specific issue of the program of work. The United States once again supports the UK’s objection to the adoption of the program because of the issue of the group’s modalities has not been settled. The program of work was not adopted in December. Nor did we have agreed modalities, yet substantive discussions occurred. I and others were confused about the status of that meeting. As a matter of principle, I believe this group must resolve modalities before moving to formal, substantive discussion. To proceed without such resolution would set a harmful precedent. To date, we have not seen one iota of compromise from Russia on this issue and it’s doubtful that will change anytime soon. Member States know US views on the importance of multistakeholder participation, and many have intervened to express their commitment to ensuring stakeholder voices are heard. Multistakeholder participation is not simply a matter of principle. It’s also in our view essential to our shared purpose. The vast majority of ICT infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector. And it is non-governmental organizations that ensure the functioning of cyberspace itself. They play an integral role in implementing our decisions, and they bring valuable insight and expertise to bear on our discussions. The modalities used last time resulted in the exclusion from formal sessions of all 18 requesting stakeholders not accredited to ECOSOC. That exclusion was based on four states anonymously vetoing stakeholders, whatever the relevance or competence. One of those states was Russia, which vetoed all stakeholders who applied. If states object to certain participants, their objection should be transparent to others. To do otherwise, is to encourage injudicious use of the veto power. In fact on several occasions Russia said already it has no intention of using an anonymous veto judiciously. Our active and constructive participation in the OEWG thus far shows that we have no desire to delay our discussions, we are ready to address these urgent issues. But we must, as an all UN processes, settled modalities before moving to formal substantive discussion. Therefore, the United States objects to the adoption of the provisional programme of work. The United States wants to participate in these urgent substantive discussions, but in the current circumstances, we are only willing to do so on an informal basis. Modalities need to be resolved before the group formally proceeds. Otherwise we will be operating in an unclear limbo that will be detrimental to our work and UN processes as a whole. Thank you Chair.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement, I’ve requests from three more delegations and I’d like to hear the views of other delegations. European Union, you have the floor please.

European Union

Mr. Chairman, I have the honor to speak on behalf of the EU and its member states, as well as the candidate countries North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania, the country of the stabilization and association process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EFTA country Leichtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, and San Marino align themselves with the statement. I speak here on behalf of 36 states. At the outset, let me express that the EU and its member states full solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. The EU condemns in the strongest possible terms Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified act of aggression against Ukraine, which grossly violates international law and the UN Charter and undermines international security and stability. The EU demands that Russia immediately ceases its military actions, withdraws all troops from the entire territory of Ukraine and fully respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence within its internationally recognized borders, and abides by the UN General Assembly Resolution, titled Aggression Against Ukraine, supported by 141 states at the 11th Emergency special session. Russia also needs to stop its disinformation campaigns, and its cyber attacks which run contrary to our work over the last two decades. In this lights, we are here today with mixed feelings. We look forward to continuing our ever more important discussions on advancing an open, free, stable and secure cyberspace. The Open-ended Working Group is an opportunity for us, for us all to exchange in an open, inclusive and in a transparent manner on responsible use of ICTs by states in a manner that is consistent with their international obligations. At the same time, we see Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, grossly violating the UN Charter and breaching the framework of responsible state behavior in cyberspace. It’s going to be sobering this week to see Russia advocating, again, for an international treaty in cyberspace, while they’re not even adhering to the norms of responsible state behavior in cyberspace. Based on its unprovoked and unjustified attacks on Ukraine, and its use of cyber tools in the context of that aggression, we can only assume that Russia is aiming to design such treaty for all other states, but which it will ignore itself. Dear colleagues, let me be very clear, despite what Russia might say today, despite what they might tell you, the EU and its member states are committed to the application of the UN framework for responsible state behavior and to substantive discussions with the international security community on the use of ICTs, with the purpose to advance international security and stability in cyberspace. We therefore regret that Russia has broken the silence on the modalities, and that they’ve shown no willingness to compromise, as it makes our formal discussions on these important issues difficult. This is a multilateral process, where trust, confidence and compromises by everyone are needed. Chair, we have shown our commitment to the continuation of Open-ended Working Group discussions, we have worked hard, we have tried to find consensus on the modalities. We have made significant compromises on multiple occasions despite our clear and valid reasons for multistakeholder participation, and to let them significantly contribute to our work. But in a consensus based process, compromise must come from all sides. We thank the UN member states that have joined our efforts in seeking this compromise and hope that we can find such compromise soon, in order for us to fully utilize the Open-ended Working Group to advance international security and stability in cyberspace. We therefore call upon Russia to stop frustrating this process and start working to seek a compromise as is practice in the United Nations. The lack of willingness to compromise is hampering our formal meetings of the Open-ended Working Group. Nevertheless, you can count on us to contribute to advancing discussions on international security and stability in cyberspace, and to contribute proactively to the implementation of our work. It would however, set an undesirable precedents in the working of the United Nations, and it will be inappropriate to continue our discussions on substance in a formal manner, as the modalities are not set yet. We therefore support the request by the United States to continue our discussions in an informal setting, not adopting the program of work until we have agreed upon modalities. Let me however, thank you once again, Chair for all your efforts and your commitment to this process. And let me reiterate once more our full solidarity with Ukraine and Ukrainian people.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement, the request for the floor is increasing. Now I have a lot 10 delegations requesting for the floor. And before I continue with the list of speakers, I’d like to remind delegations that the question at hand, which I had paused right at the outset, was whether the working group agrees with the program of work as contained in the document that had been circulated. We have received some views on that precise question. And there has also been, as I understand it, a request that the meeting proceed not in a formal manner, but in an informal manner that has been put forward by the delegation of the United States. Now, I’d like to hear the views of delegations on the comments that have been made and the request that has been made. And I hope that we will focus on the procedural question at hand on how the working group should proceed with its work. We are not yet in a substantive discussion. I’ll continue with the list of speakers now. I have the Russian Federation, please.


Distinguished Ambassador Burhan Gafoor, distinguished colleagues. I did not interrupt the previous speakers, even though I was fully entitled to do so in accordance with the existing procedure, since we believe that they abused their right to speak here. And they began to address various unrelated topics. Unfortunately, it seems to be a sort of tradition, every time we’re beginning a substantive session of our group. Representatives of Western countries, especially the UK and the United States, are making desperate attempts to hijack the meeting, using various excuses, and in violation of existing procedure. We are here to discuss a specific issue about how to organize our work. Whereas they are attempting to prevent us from using this opportunity to deprive us and we believe that this is unacceptable. Despite all of their demagoguery about how committed they are to the process, we remember very well how from the very start of this process, they were collectively against the process. And when they were unsuccessful in their attempts to stop this process from moving forward, they are trying to undermine our work from within. We are categorically opposed to any such attempts to politicize the negotiations process. We do not accept these speculative accusations that are being made here. We are against any speculations about the situation in Ukraine. And I would like to remind you, that in accordance with UN General Assembly 75/240, our group has the mandate to continue to work on specific issues related to international security in cyberspace. This is why we propose that we focus our efforts on this issue so that we can have a pragmatic professional approach, avoid accusations and avoid politicizing the work with unfounded accusations. There’s a positive example of this kind of professional approach and this was the recent first substantive meeting on developing the UN convention against ICT use and crimes. Amidst heightened geopolitical tensions when one wrong step could lead to an uncontrolled escalation of a conflict, our work on maintaining peace and security in cyberspace is particularly relevant. It is clear that ensuring international information security becomes one of the key factors that influence strategic stability. A cyberattack be it accidental or intended including perpetrated under a false flag could have fatal consequences. In this context, given the growing importance of our work in the OEWG I would like to join the chair’s call for focusing the group’s efforts on steps into negotiations and developing concrete practical decisions and arrangements in this domain. We believe that the OEWG should not be simply a platform for discussion or politicized statements, but rather for specific, pragmatic negotiations aimed at achieving tangible practical results. As far as the programme of work, suggested by the chairs concerned, I would like to state the following. At informal consultations organized by the Chair and members on March 18, a number of countries including Russia, expressed concern over the lack of balance in the document. Specifically, there’s a point on rules, norms and principles, which is prioritized in the group’s mandate according to UNGA resolution 75/240 was only to be discussed at one three hour meeting. At the same time, CBMs and capacity building are going to be considered for almost a whole day of negotiations. We understand the logic behind the current program work and the chairman’s preparation of it, but we believe that the OEWG’s mandate should be the basic guideline for our activities. We call for the chairman to avoid these inconsistencies in the future. A number of states including Russia, also have reservations about the virtual open-ended formal meeting open to all delegations and interested parties. The chairman proposes March 31st as the date for it. Due to the significant differences in the views of states until now we have not been able to adopt the modalities for the interaction of the OEWG with stakeholders. Unfortunately, a group of Western States was unable to support the compromise proposal by India. In the circumstances, their participation in the OEWG should be limited to organizations with consultative status with ECOSOC or the GA. With this in mind, we don’t fully understand the status of the event scheduled for March 31st. Before conducting it, ideally, it would be good to reach a decision about the modalities for working with the UN. At the same time, Russia remains fully supportive of India’s proposal. We are ready to consider it adopted. We believe that it is a reasonable compromise that would allow us to move towards those with whom we disagree and we are also displaying flexibility in using these modalities. Not until the end of the work of our working group. But just for one year, for this current year we believe that this is a very reasonable compromise that would allow us to have practical interactions with non-government actors, and accredit interested organizations, at least by the third substantive session. I’d venture to suggest that after we successfully go through the stage, perhaps there may be no need to introduce additional changes. Otherwise, we are ready to continue to discuss this issue in the intersessional period. We need to avoid creating any new unclear precedents that may mislead us for our further considerations of the modalities for NGO participation as a compromise and to work together with the chair, we are ready to join the consensus if it states in writing, that the meeting on March 31 with non-government entities will not create any precedent for OEWG’s future work. Given our discussions on interactions with NGOs, Russia is concerned by a far more fundamental issue: The participation of official delegations in the work of the OEWG. Once again we would like to draw your attention to a blatant violation of the obligations under the agreement on the UN headquarters by the state hosting the UN on its territory. The demand to ensure the expanded participation of NGOs in the OEWG appears absurd when heads and members of delegations from a number of states are unable to obtain a US visa in order to participate in the group’s official sessions. In our case, this has to do with the head of our delegation, the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for International Cooperation in the field of information Security, Ambassador Andrey Krutskikh. It is no exaggeration to say that he is the architect of the OEWG format. This problem is systemic, we cannot continue to ignore it. And this is why we call on the Chair and the UN Secretariat to develop suggestions on possible ways to resolve this situation. Despite the unfriendly statements by other countries, I nevertheless, wish the representatives from all countries who have gathered here for work on this program every success in your work. Thank you for your attention.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement. I have about 11 delegations requesting for the floor. And I’d like to urge all delegations to focus on the procedural issue and question, which is whether we can proceed with the program of work and the nature of our meeting. Whether we can continue as a formal meeting or as has been proposed by a delegation, we proceed on the basis of an informal meeting. I’d like to hear reactions to that proposal, please. Canada, you have the floor.


Thank you for this opportunity to speak, Chair. Like my UK colleague, Canada is disappointed that we have not yet agreed on stakeholder modalities, despite your best efforts to do so. As other colleagues have pointed out, in UN processes, when normally agrees on modalities before moving to substance. In December, substantive discussions were allowed to proceed while informal sub-modalities took place. Canada was hoping that we would have modalities in place for this meeting. We were especially disappointed that Russia and a small group of states broke silence on the Chair’s proposal in January. While not perfect, Canada could have lived with that proposal, which ensured a minimum of transparency in the use of vetoes. If states wanted to veto they could do so they just had to identify themselves, we did not feel that this was too much to ask. Now we’re here today. It is not ideal at all to meet again without stakeholder modalities, and thus without stakeholders being able to participate as fully as they should. This is not just a procedural issue chair, but it’s also a substantive one. Allow me to explain. As High Representative Izumi Nakamitsu pointed out correctly, the private sector owns and operates much of the physical infrastructure of the internet. NGOs have a lot to say about things like implementing norms and a human centric way, gender considerations, freedom online, etc. Academics and think tanks bring valuable perspectives on issues such as how international law applies in cyberspace. Not having stakeholders present or able to engage fully means that these perspectives are not fully represented in our discussions. It undermines the very legitimacy of this process and could call into question the group’s ability to reach outcomes that are consensual and meaningful. All this because a small group of states wants to be able to veto the participation of all non-ECOSOC accredited stakeholders without even being willing to identify themselves. Again, this is very disappointing. We hope to reach a compromise deal on modalities this week as soon as possible. Canada looks forward to engaging in the informal discussions that you are convening tomorrow to address this issue, so that we can agree hopefully on modalities and have stakeholders present properly for the July session. Turning to your direct question on the format of this meeting. Canada associates with remarks made by my British, American and EU colleagues earlier this morning. We also support the US request that the meeting be held in an informal format. This will allow us to have substantive discussions this week while maintaining the right to block the adoption of the program of work for July. Should stakeholders not be agreed by then. Meeting like we are now without agreed modalities is worse than having the weakest of modalities. Therefore, we support the US proposal that this meeting be held in informal format. If this is agreed, we would hope that interpretation remains offered, and that the meeting be broadcast on UN TV, even if the meeting is held in informal format. This would allow delegations who have not been able to travel for whatever reason, as well as stakeholders to be able to follow the proceedings. I’m now going to switch to French and read some remarks on Ukraine rapidly. As my colleagues from the US, Canada condemns in the strongest term, the unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by President Putin. President Putin ordered the largest invasion of a European country since the Second World War. He has breached the peace and security of Europe. The Russian attacks have serious humanitarian consequences, and they’re affecting the lives of millions of people. This is not just an attack against Ukraine. It is also an attack on international law, including the UN Charter. Additionally, it is an attack on democracy, freedom and human rights. President Putin is trying to use force to change internationally recognized borders, basing his actions on a propaganda full of lies and absurd statements. Russia is attempting to overturn a democratically elected government of a sovereign nation. We must force the representatives of Russia to take account of their actions. Canada reaffirms its support to the Government of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. And we commend them on their courage and resilience. Thank you.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement. I give now the floor to Australia to be followed by Germany. Australia, please.


Thank you chair. Australia is committed to an open-free, secure and peaceful cyberspace. And we are committed to promoting and progressing cyber peace and stability through discussions and forums just like this Open-ended Working Group. But we cannot ignore the global context of the time in which we meet. It is with a very heavy heart that I joined my voice with those who have spoken before me. And to reiterate unequivocally that Australia condemns in the strongest possible terms, Russia’s unprovoked, unjust and illegal war. We call on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory consistent with the legally binding decision of the International Court of Justice. The international community must not tolerate Russia’s misuse of cyberspace to undermine Ukraine’s national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity by seeking to disrupt essential services, businesses, and community confidence. Such behavior undermines trust, confidence and all diplomatic efforts. Engagements in discussions to promote international peace and security in cyberspace requires a degree of confidence that all other parties are committed to upholding the rules based order online, just as we do offline. Russia’s wholesale breach of international law, including the UN Charter, calls into question how trivially Russia might treat any recommendations that we could negotiate and agree in this forum. My genuine question to everyone here today is, how do we make progress on responsible state behavior in cyberspace, when one of the OEWG’s most vocal participants and original sponsor is so flagrantly acting irresponsibly? Russia’s true motivations for seeking to lead cyber discussions at the UN are called into question by Russia’s misuse of cyberspace to undermine Ukraine’s national security and sovereignty. Australia rejects the narrative that raising the invasion of Ukraine in this forum politicizes the Open-ended Working Group, we cannot ignore the direct link between a cyber attack on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, forming a key part of Russia’s hybrid warfare strategy. Ignoring acts of irresponsible behavior in cyberspace calls into question the legitimacy of this Open-ended Working Group and undermines our mandate to promote an open secure, stable accessible and peaceful cyberspace. Now more than ever, it is imperative that this group focuses at its very core on upholding international law, the rule of law, and the promotion and protection of human rights. Now more than ever, this process must prove its inclusivity and its transparency. Non-governmental entities play a unique and vital role in the technical management and governance of the internet. However, we have yet to agree modalities for their participation and engagement in our discussions. Cyberspace is unique. Well informed discussions and effective outcomes for this process require meaningful engagement with the multistakeholder community, with civil society, the technical community, academia, industry and intergovernmental bodies. They can provide perspectives that help us better understand emerging cyber threats, their impacts and how we can address them. That role should be recognized in the discussion of The UN Open-ended Working Group to help us come to our consensus decisions as states. And I thank you Chair for your efforts to include stakeholders informally in our discussions so far, both last Thursday and in the planned part of our discussions this week, on Thursday afternoon. Australia supports a mechanism that facilitates meaningful dialogue between all parties, inclusively, transparently coordinated, impactful, maximizing the time that we have together, and we are disappointed that such a mechanism still remains elusive for this group. I note the request by the United States for the second session of the OEWG to take place on an informal basis. Because the OEWG’s modalities and programme of work remain unsettled. Australia supports that proposal to shift to an informal meeting until these procedures are settled. And we would hope that this group can in the meantime, continue substantive discussions in an informal setting, as we did in the previous Open-ended Working Group by informal virtual meetings in 2020 and 2021, when we could not meet in person. I also support the suggestion just made from Canada to promote the inclusivity of these discussions by continuing to broadcast the meeting on UN TV, while in informal mode. Australia believes in the importance of maintaining forums like this one, where we can openly exchange views on difficult topics and I echo Under Secretary General Nakamitsu’s comment this morning, that is not in spite of but because of the global context of the time in which we meet that continuing these discussions is so important. I sincerely hope that the future of this process and the spirit of consensus and our collective commitment to promoting international peace and stability in cyberspace does prevail. Thank you, Chair.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for this statement. I give now the floor to Germany.


Honourable Chair, dear colleagues, cyber peace is the central goal of this group. It is also essential for safeguarding a peaceful future for this planet. Germany is fully aligned with a statement delivered by the European Union and would like to make the following remarks in a national capacity. Honorable chair, Germany wishes to thank you and your team for the preparation of this session, which is set to start in one of the gravest moments of our times. We are meeting at a moment when our world is shaken by the terrible war of aggression, which is waged by Russia against Ukraine. Germany condemns Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine in the strongest possible terms. Russia’s aggression constitutes an unacceptable breach of international law and the UN Charter, violating the fundamental principles of state sovereignty, the territorial integrity of states and peaceful conduct among states. In preparation of Russia’s military invasion, we have witnessed the highly concerning use of malicious cyber instruments. The attacks by Russian state and state sponsored actors started way before the kinetic attacks, and are still ongoing as the war rages on. These malicious cyber activities present a massive menace to the security and accessibility of online communication, not only for the government or military command and control, but also for the civil society in Ukraine. They are conducted with a view towards destroying the digital base of Ukraine’s civil society, media and economy. The cyber activities also menace global cyber peace, as we are already seeing alarming spillover effects of this war into the digital networks of many other states. We fear that Russia will launch more severe cyber attacks in the future, not only in Ukraine. By waging cyber war against Ukraine, Russia is also limiting online access to information, social media platforms, and other forms of online communication for its own citizens. By misusing online media for a fierce and gigantic information war, with the intention of concealing the bloody realities of this war. The cyber operations put in place by Russia against Ukraine and towards its own population are in flagrant violation of the United Nations framework of responsible state behavior in cyberspace, a framework which has evolved over many laborious years of negotiations in UNGGE’s and OEWG and has since been endorsed by all UN members, including Russia in the General Assembly. The 2015 UN recommendations for voluntary, non-binding norms and last year’s reports of both GGE and OEWG, our much needed world standard to secure cyber peace in our increasingly digitalized world. There can only be cyber peace if those cyber norms are respected, to secure, enforce and strengthen cyber norms is the goal of this working group. The kind of blatant, illegal misuse of cyberspace we have witnessed in the context of the UN crisis is a severe setback in achieving this goal. The cyber attacks suffered by Ukraine also underline the importance of the work ahead of us, and the relevance of this group’s mandate to elaborate universally acceptable guidance on responsible state conduct in cyberspace. The repeated massive cyber incidents of the past days, months and years shine a dark light on what a responsible state actors are bound to do again and again if we fail to secure cyberspace. This is why we want to encourage this group to further develop the rules, norms and principles of responsible state behavior, and their implementation and if necessary to introduce changes to them or elaborate a little additional rules of behavior. It is of key importance that the Open-ended Working Group does this with the involvement of the multistakeholder community. Germany fully supports the repeated calls for ensuring an adequate participation of multiple stakeholders in the sessions of the Open-ended Working Group. The internet is neither owned nor controlled by states. It is a public domain which is managed and advanced by a highly complex and efficient range of actors representing industry, civil society and government. The participation in this Open-ended Working Group should be fully reflective of this reality. In order to have a real and cyber world impact. This group needs to have full access to the expertise and the technical know how of these multiple stakeholders. Last week’s informal consultation of multiple stakeholders conducted by you honorable chair has once again proven their high level of interest and relevance for our work. This group does not operate in avoid its recommendations in terms of voluntary norms of state behavior, confidence building measures or cyber capacity building must be fully actionable in the context of the world’s IT networks. Germany does not see how this can be assured without offering the relevant multiple stakeholders the opportunity for adequate participation in the OEWG. A number of acceptable proposals have been put forward to bring multistakeholder participation to an adequate level, both by states and by you honorable chair, Germany calls on states to show flexibility and converge on a compromise solution that ensures transparency and adequate participation. This key issue should be resolved as soon as possible to allow us to fully focus our energy on the wide range of pressing cybersecurity items on our agenda. Until the modalities have agreed, our work on the substantial items should continue on an informal basis as is UN practice. Thank you, Mr. Chair for your tireless commitment to this process. Let me assure you that Germany remains in every way ready to engage constructively in the work of this Open-ended Working Group and to ensure this group can make meaningful contributions towards cyber peace. Thank you.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for your statement. I give now the floor to Finland to be followed by Poland. Finland please.


Thank you, Mr. Chair. I am speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and my own country Finland and the EU member states among us align with the EU statement delivered earlier. At the outsets, Mr. Chair, let me underline that the Nordic countries express their full solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. The Nordic countries condemn in the strongest possible terms, Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine. It violates flagrantly international law and the UN Charter, and undermines international security, stability and the core principles of the international rules based order. The Nordic countries demand that Russia ceases its military actions immediately, and stops its disinformation campaign and cyber attacks against Ukraine. The Russian government’s repeated violations of international law, including the continuous use of cyber attacks clearly illustrate the Russia’s disregard for the subject matter we are discussing today. In fact, it shows that Russia has no intentions to engage in good faith in negotiations in our efforts to ensure peace and stability in cyberspace. Mr. Chair, the United Nations is the core of multilateral cooperation and has a leading role in promoting dialogue on the use of ICTs by states. Strong, multilateral institutions, and a rules based international order are of utmost importance to the Nordic countries. Therefore, we have been committed to constructive participation in this process, as well as in the ad hoc committee process on cybercrime. Whilst we will continue to engage constructively to uphold the strength of multilateralism, the prospects for achieving meaningful progress without an agreement on the modalities for multistakeholder participation are, however, in our view, questionable. The Nordic countries have shown willingness to compromise in order to reach consensus on multiple occasions. And we therefore deeply regret the unwillingness demonstrated by a few member states to find common ground. Inclusion and mutual understanding is the bedrock of the United Nations. And the views and experiences from a wide array of stakeholders, including the private sector, academia, and civil society are invaluable assets to our work. We had previously agreed to allowing the formal discussions are to proceed in the first substantive session, under the shared understanding that a progress on the issue of modalities will be made before the current session. However, since we do not have such an agreement, it is clear that we cannot continue to proceed on the same basis from last December. It is therefore our position and in this regard we support the United States proposal just made, that we should not proceed our formal discussions before reaching an agreement on the modalities. We also support the proposal by Canada, that nevertheless, our proceedings should be broadcast on UN TV. At this stage, we can therefore agree to allowing informal discussions to take place in accordance with the established UN practice. But in order for the formal substantive discussions to continue, there needs to be an agreement on the modalities, proceeding without an agreement would not only undermine the meaningfulness of this round of the OEWG, but could also undercut the credibility of the consensus based outcome achieved so far in the OEWG process. I thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement. I give now the floor to Poland, please.


Mr. Chair, distinguished delegates. First of all, let me thank you and your team for all your efforts leading us to this important session. We also appreciate guiding questions that you have prepared to streamline our discussions. At the same time, I have to say in my national capacity at the very beginning of the session that the work we conduct within this group, as well as in other multilateral fora lays today in the shadow of the humanitarian tragedy caused by the Russian aggression against independent Ukraine. We condemn the strongest possible terms of the Russian military invasion and demand immediate ceasefire and withdrawing of Russia’s troops from the Ukrainian territory. Nothing can justify this war and nothing can justify killing of innocent people including children. As you rightly pointed out many times, Mr. Chair, Open-ended Working Group in itself is an important confidence building measure, we need to work in this conviction. We therefore deeply regret that currently in the light of the Russian aggressive behavior in the cyberspace connected to the war in Ukraine, the spirit of confidence cannot be guaranteed. Mr. Chair, cyberspace is not only the domain of the states, but there are also many different stakeholders, shaping our societies and our stakeholders. A presence in cyberspace means first and foremost responsibility. Since we need responsible multistakeholders in cyberspace, we should secure their broad participation in the OEWG process. Their presence is important, advantageous and desirable. In this context, we appeal to the Russian delegation not to block the work of the group and to revise its position on the modalities on the participation of the multistakeholders. Mr. Chair, we support the position of the United Kingdom regarding the provisional programme of work, and also the motion of the United States to continue our work in an informal matter. Mr. Chair, speaking of the importance of the Confidence Building Measures, I want to stress the role of the original organizations in this matter. Power under the chair in office of the organization of security cooperation, Europe, attaches great importance to OSCE acquis concerning established Confidence Building Measures for cybersecurity. This is another field of international cooperation that has been gravely affected by the political consequences of the attack of Russia against Ukraine. Let me, nevertheless, state that they will support the cooperation of the OSCE’s CBMs, especially those devoted to the protection of the ICT infrastructure. We believe that other regional and sub-regional organizations also have an important role to play in this regard. And Mr. Chair to conclude, we have found ourselves in an unusual situation which we need discuss responsible behavior in cyberspace. Why the international law is currently being violated not only by the military aggression, but also by repeated malicious cyber activities of Russia. Let me stress that what we are all facing now is not only a test of political responsibility and maturity but, first and foremost, it is a test of multilateralism, which has been built over decades, and which is now put into danger. And I thank you very much for your attention.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement, delegates, we have 13 requests for the floor. And I’d like to once again appeal to all delegations to focus on the procedural question at hand with regard to the programme of work and the format of our meeting. And at this stage, I’d like to close the speaker’s list as well. I give now the floor to the next speaker, France to be followed by the Czech Republic, France, please.


Thank you, Distinguished Chair. I speak here for the first time during the session, and I would like to express France’s full solidarity with Ukraine, and the Ukrainian people we commend their courage. France, together with the EU and its member states condemns the unjustified aggression of Russia against Ukraine. This aggression is a blatant violation of international law and the UN Charter. We demand that Russia put an end to this invasion, and to respect its obligations under international law, and specifically under international humanitarian law. We also call and with particular emphasis on the subject, which we’re here to discuss I call on Russia and the armed groups which it supports to stop their disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks. Mr. Chair, we have heard and we understand your call to the states for them to focus their statements today on specific issues related to the work of the OEWG but during a meeting that has to do with threats of ICT to international security, it seems necessary to us to mention this malevolent cyber activity. It is also necessary in our view, to denounce the fact that here we are discussing standards with a country which pays no heed to respecting these standards, and does not do so. These activities only serve to confirm the need to defend and strengthen the normative framework for activities in cyberspace within the UN framework, this regulatory framework through resolution 76/19, which Russia co-sponsored and which was unanimously adapted at the first commission last year should be the basis for this group’s work. As for us, we are very serious in our attitude towards the resolutions which we have supported. We respect them. And this is why as we condemn all actions, violating this normative framework, we reiterate our will to work as part of the OEWG with all interested states. And under your leadership, Mr. Chair, we will work to promote the respect for this framework. We will continue to discuss the modalities of its application and work to implement it. And another important issue is our program of work. We thank you, Mr. Chair, for proposing the program of work which you disseminated to us. In preparation for this session, we saw that you wanted to hold virtual informal consultations with non-government actors, although the modalities have not been adopted yet at the stage for working with these entities, Mr. Chair, no one here, and my delegation included does not forget that this is an inter-governmental process related to issues and international security. So it is clear that the key role and decision making power belongs to states and states alone. However, as has been stated in the report of the expert group, and the first working group, the first Open-ended Working Group, as my delegation has underscored and its presentations throughout the session. There are many areas in which regular dialogue or even in depth cooperation with non-government actors can contribute significantly to our efforts to strengthen the resilience of information systems, thereby increasing the stability in cyberspace. This is why France has been promoting diplomatic efforts involving multiple stakeholders. For example, the Paris call for confidence and security in cyberspace. But also it should guide our reflections on the need for an action program in order to improve security and stability in cyberspace. Specifically, by promoting capacity building for all players. This is also why we call together with our European partners for the defense of the greater involvement of non-governmental entities on the discussion of ICTs where relevant. Mr. Chair, for many months, we have been supporting your efforts on outlining modalities for involving these players that would please all parties, we have been ready for compromise, even though this was not our initial stance. And we have been actively seeking solutions that promote an open dialogue with non-governmental entities, while respecting the sovereign right of any state to refuse to participate. If they believe it to be necessary. We regret that your decision was not adopted on December 17. It recommended an expanded participation in this process. We also regret that the silence has been broken on the second compromise which you proposed in January. Finally, we regret that all of the conditions were not created to allow us in February to adopt the suggestion by India. The provisional modalities for the Open-ended Working Group. Mr. Chair, France looks forward to continue to support you in your efforts to resolve this issue. My delegation will be present at the informal consultations which you have prepared, and we will be happy to participate in order to examine solutions that may be proposed in a spirit of openness and compromise. But it’s also important to remember that in order to reach an agreement, the spirit of compromise needs to be displayed by each and every one of us. I would like to respond to your question, Mr. Chair, as we wait to compromise on these modalities. We believe that unfortunately, it is impossible to proceed as we had hoped to adopting the formal programme of work so it is impossible to hold a formal working group for now. Nevertheless, we hope that ongoing discussions which you underlined the need for can take place this week. And we believe like many other colleagues that they would benefit from being translated and disseminated. Thank you.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement. I give now the floor to the Czech Republic please.

Czech Republic  

Thank you, Mr. Chair for convening this meeting and for giving me the opportunity to speak. The Czech Republic aligns itself with the EU statement and wishes to highlight the following points in its national capacity. Let me express the Czech Republic’s full solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. We strongly condemn Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked act of aggression against Ukraine, which is flagrant violation of international law and the UN Charter and undermines international security and stability. The Czech Republic demands the Russia immediately cease its military actions, withdraw all this troops from the entire territory of Ukraine and fully respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence within its internationally recognized borders. Russia also needs to stop its disinformation campaign and cyber attacks. The Czech Republic is ready to provide its contribution to substantive discussion at the OEWG. But it is utmost uncomfortable for us to discuss application of international law in virtual world when at the same time the international law is flagrantly violated in physical world. On the program of work, as we have already expressed many times the Czech Republic attaches particular importance to the role of stakeholders in the OEWG process. And we are deeply concerned that there is still no consensus on modalities, we consider the involvement of multi-stakeholders to be an important step towards the transparency and inclusiveness of the OEWG. The technical community and the private sector play an indispensable role in providing information on threats emerging in cyberspace. We therefore encourage the OEWG to leverage this knowledge and provide the multistakeholder community with the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the OEWG deliberations. We continue to believe that Canada’s proposal from the organizational meeting based on the precedents set at the UN cybercrime is a reasonable compromise solution. But we are open to other constructive proposals, and we hope to reach a compromise agreement on the terms this week. With regards to the format of this meeting, we also support the comments made earlier by a British colleague as well as the US request for the meeting to be held in an informal format. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement. I give now the floor to Ukraine to be followed by New Zealand. Ukraine please.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for organizing this meeting and for giving me the floor. Ukraine aligns itself with the statement made by the European Union earlier today, and would like to make some additional remarks. As cyber attacks continue to be on the rise, having become not only a methods of a hybrid, but a real full scale warfare. The national policy and framework are progressively becoming more and more vulnerable to cyber threats. On 24th February 2022, Russian Federation started the new wave of unprovoked and unjustified aggression against our country. The Russian troops are attacking Ukraine from the territory of Russia, from the territory of neighboring Belarus, and the temporarily occupied parts of Ukraine, Donetsk, Luhansk and regions and from Crimea. They fire hundreds of cruise and operational tactic missiles use aviation, tanks and artillery against military positions and cities targeting civilians and objects of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools. This is a full scale war against Ukraine, an attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, a brutal violation of the UN Charter, basic norms and principles of international law as well as international humanitarian law. From the very start of its full scale war against Ukraine, Russia has been organizing cyber attacks against governmental institutions, as well as fake news campaign, aimed at sow panic in Ukrainian towns and cut off Ukrainian citizens from the official information sources. However, the reality is such that Russia launched its aggression against Ukraine not months ago, but in 2014, when it temporarily occupied Crimea and certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. Throughout eight years of Russia’s aggression, the critical infrastructure, governmental structures, and individuals in Ukraine have been suffering from targeted cyber attacks. These challenges require consolidated efforts in order to elaborate rules of the game for the purpose of providing any attempt to discredit such eminent achievements as computer technologies. All international efforts must be directed to seeking reliable mechanisms to detect and bring to justice responsible individuals and specific states, which coordinate and finance illicit activities in the global cyberspace, including undermining foreign critical infrastructure. We call on UN member states to express its support for Ukraine and its effort to uphold its legitimate sovereign interests and strongly condemn Russian criminal actions in cyberspace. We cannot pretend in our group that nothing happens and to continue our work as business as usual. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement. I give now the floor to New Zealand please.

New Zealand  

Thank you chair. New Zealand has welcomed the recommencement of OEWG discussions. We all share an objective to strengthen peace and security in cyberspace through the implementation of the agreed framework of responsible state behavior, focusing on the prevention of conflict and promotion of the peaceful use of ICTs through international cooperation. This is our process and we want it to succeed. But as others have said, we cannot ignore the context in which we meet today. New Zealand condemns unequivocally the unprovoked and unjustified attack by the Putin regime on Ukraine, which represents a clear violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have repeatedly called for the Putin regime to act consistently with its international obligations, cease military operations in Ukraine, withdraw its troops and return to diplomatic negotiations as a pathway to resolve this conflict peacefully. The Russian government has ignored opportunities for diplomacy, negotiation, and de-escalation and actively chosen further hostility. Russia’s attacks on Ukraine cyberspace over the recent months demonstrate a persistent violation of its commitments to act responsibly in cyberspace. Its use of cyber attacks is fundamentally and completely inconsistent with the efforts of other states here today, who seek to strengthen peace and security in cyberspace through the implementation of the agreed framework of responsible state behavior on the use of ICTs. Chair, the fundamental strength of the OEWG process is its inclusivity, transparency and openness. If we are to achieve our shared objectives of peace and security in cyberspace, the modalities for the meeting must enable inclusive and meaningful participation of a range of voices in a transparent manner. We must do better to facilitate hearing the perspectives of the broadest range of stakeholders as possible. This OEWG must enable structured and genuine engagement with civil society, the private sector, academia and nongovernmental organizations. Inclusive dialogue will provide the basis for stakeholders to play a role in implementing the decisions in which would take into consideration the means and ability to participate and contribute to the outcome. New Zealand’s strong view based on our domestic experience is that this is the best way for the OEWG to make a difference for the citizens that we represent. New Zealand is grateful for the efforts made by many delegations to find improved modalities that would enable us to move on to the importance of substantive discussions that we all wish to progress. We are similarly grateful for your admirable efforts over a long period Mr. Chair, to broker a way forward. Unfortunately, these efforts have not reached agreement. That unwillingness by some member states to compromise has meant that we’ve not have agreed stakeholder modalities. Therefore, New Zealand joins others to support the UK proposal to keep the program of work open and the US proposal to continue have substantive discussions on an informal basis while this issue is resolved, in accordance with established practice. I also join others in supporting Canada’s proposal to continue the broadcast and interpretation services to support transparency. Given the importance of stakeholder engagement to the ultimate success of this OEWG, we cannot proceed indefinitely while we wait for modalities to be agreed. New Zealand stands ready to work with you all to find a way through all modalities so that we can turn our attention to practical, concrete and meaningful actions to enhance peace and stability in cyberspace. Thank you.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for your statement, I give now the floor to Switzerland to be followed by Spain. Switzerland, please.


Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, Switzerland joins other delegations in condemning Russia’s military aggression on Ukraine in the strongest possible terms, and calls on Russia to de-escalate the situation immediately, cease all hostilities and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory without delay. Russia’s actions are a serious violation of international law, in particular, the use of force and the violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine as enshrined in international law. Switzerland also condemns the involvement of Belarus in Russia’s military attack. Mr. Chair, we are witnessing scenes that we swore never to see again in Europe, Russia’s military aggression on Ukraine and the accompaning violations of elementary norms of international law are unique in Europe’s recent history. Switzerland urges all parties to the armed conflict to respect international humanitarian law. This applies also to cyberspace, the protection of the civilian population must be ensured. This is the number one priority. The rules and principles regulating the conduct of hostilities, including the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution must have to be strictly applied and respected. Attacks must not be directed against civilians and civilian objects. Objects essential to the survival of the civilian population, as well as civilian and medical infrastructure must not be targeted. Furthermore, we call on the parties to ensure rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access and the safety of humanitarian medical personnel. Unfortunately, the daily reports from Ukraine show a very different picture. Images of destructed hospitals, maternity wards, schools, water and sanitation facilities, as well as residential buildings raise serious questions regarding compliance with IHL. We call on Russia to honor its obligations. Moreover, we call on Russia like all nuclear weapon states to refrain from any threat to use these weapons, even more so from using them. Moreover, we call on Russia to uphold its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Mr. Chair, Switzerland reiterates its full support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Russia has a special responsibility for maintaining international peace. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine puts the credibility of the United Nations at stake. We call on Russia to assume this responsibility and to end the war as soon as possible and to strive for a political solution. This conflict, like all conflicts can only be solved through dialogue. Mr. Chair, in the framework of the previous Open-ended Working Group and also this Open-ended Working Group, we have often heard from the Russian delegation that states sovereignty must also be protected in cyberspace. Moreover, it was repeatedly emphasized that new binding norms are needed. Russia’s actions, however, speak a completely different language. Ukraine’s state sovereignty is being seriously violated, and the most fundamental norms of international law and United Nations Charter are being grossly disregarded. Russia’s actions undermine the confidence and trust we must have for discussions on such issues in this body. How can we trust that norms on responsible state behavior in cyberspace that we discuss here will be respected? And how can we discuss new binding norms when the most fundamental existing norms are flouted. From Switzerland’s perspective, the focus of our work must therefore be on how existing international law applies in cyberspace, and on how we best can implement the framework for responsible state behavior. Switzerland participated actively and constructively in the December session of this group and made several proposals on how this group could make progress. We remain engaged to contribute to these efforts and to promote responsible state behavior in cyberspace. On the modalities Mr. Chair, Switzerland has repeatedly stressed the importance it attaches to sustained, sustainable and transparent multi-stakeholders participation in our process. In our view, this is the only way for this Open-ended Working Group to meet the requirements of transparency and inclusiveness. Switzerland is striving for a better solution for the modalities than the one that apply to the last Open-ended Working Group. In our view, it was insufficient and not really workable. All states face threats from malicious cyber activity. We need a process to support states to make the best possible decisions. Stakeholder participation is not a nice to have. It is what makes cyberspace function. Stakeholders play an integral role in this operation, possess valuable insights and expertise beyond that of states and play a key role in implementing our decisions. We should hear their voice and make decisions taking them into account. In our view, the proposal outlined in your letter of 15 December, 2021, would have been a good compromise. We reported it and could have lived with the proposal of 18th of January with some slight changes. They contained a very important element for us: transparency. States should be transparent about their objections. This does not mean that states give up control over the process. Switzerland regrets that it has not been possible to find a solution on the modalities up till now and that we have not heard from those delegations that have opposed your proposals, concrete proposal for a solution of this issue that could get a consensus. Mr. Chair, we thank you for the organization of informal dialogue between you and interested stakeholders of 24th of March, as well as the virtual, open-ended informal meeting to take place on Thursday afternoon, this week. The informal dialogue was a proof of the valuable contribution stakeholders can make to our process. But these meetings cannot replace their participation in the formal meetings. From our point of view, it is important that we find a solution during this session, we cannot lose more time. For the reason explained by the UK, the US and the EU. Switzerland joins other delegations and supports the demand to hold open the program of work and to continue discussions in an informal setting. We hope that we still can have substantive discussions, and we support the demand of Canada and others to webcast our discussions with interpretation. Switzerland thanks the chair for his efforts so far, we will continue to support you. I thank you.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement. I now give the floor to Spain, please.


Thank you very much chair. Spain aligns itself with the statement given by the European Union and in its national capacity, we would like to share the following comments. Chair, we welcome your efforts and that of your team to bring about today’s meeting. This second substantive session of the Open-ended Working Group is being carried out in a context of high tension because of the invasion by Russia into Ukraine. Nothing can be equal in our relations with Russia when trust and complicity, necessary conditions for negotiating international agreements have gone up in smoke, we make an urgent call to Russia so that it may cease its fire in Ukraine. While we show our deep solidarity with the government and people of Ukraine, victims of military illegal, unjust and cruel aggression. We urgently call on Russia as well to respect the principles and values of the UN Charter, international law, human rights and international humanitarian law. We have agreed that all binding offline law must be applied in all aspects. This lack of structural trust is at the base of a lack of consensus concerning potential modalities of participation by civil society that we were unable to resolve during the first session of this Open-ended Working Group last December. It doesn’t seem like we are in any better position to achieve that during the current session, Spain advocates for the widest and richest possible participation by representatives of civil society and the private sector as members who are responsible for innovation and development of ICTs. We call for open, free, safe cyberspace. A space that will bring about opportunities for our societies and that will generate prosperity in our nations. This should bring about international regulatory consensus on conduct, as well as best practices by states in cyberspace. We see the true threat of fragmentation within spheres that could affect technical specifications that might end up being entirely incompatible amongst themselves. We cannot allow for this to occur because it will directly affect all of our countries. We continue to support the action plan and efforts to bring about international efforts to build capacities, promote trust building measures and technology transfer. Sadly, given the current circumstances, we cannot move forward with a formal session within the framework that you have identified chair. You do count on our support and our protagonism of this effort. However, we believe that this meeting should continue informally, as was said by the United States and Canada’s suggestion is one that we support as well, that this session be broadcast through UN Web TV to increase participation in this exercise. We hope and believe that before the next substantive session in July, we will be better positioned to advance our agenda when it comes to the concrete modalities of participation by civil society, as well as the substantive working workflows. And we are committed to working constructively with you chair and all other member states in order to achieve this goal. Thank you very much.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for your statement. I give now the floor to China to be followed by Netherlands. China, please.


Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your efforts to advance this meeting. Under the current international situation, China believes that it is crucial to continue to advance the multilateral process on ICT security. It is imperative that member states demonstrate a spirit of unity and dialogue, cherish the opportunity of this meeting and conduct substantive discussions as early as possible in accordance with the mandate of GA resolutions. Meanwhile, it’s important to avoid the politicization of the meeting. So as to take concrete actions to maintain peace and stability in cyberspace. Regarding the participation of non-governmental organizations, China believes that this is undoubtedly a substantive issue of the meeting. China hopes that the present will continue to play a key leading role and find a constructive solution by consensus as soon as possible. At the same time, China believes that no issue should stand in the way of substantive discussions. We suggest that before reaching an agreement, the past practice can be followed to move forward with substantive discussions. Finally, China wishes to play a constructive role and participate in the substantive discussions. Finally, I wish to ask a technical question, if the meeting proceeds as an informal session this week, will statements or suggestions or questions raised by Member States be formally recorded? Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement. I will come back to your question at a later stage. I give now the floor to The Netherlands.

The Netherlands  

Dear chair, distinguished colleagues, at the outset chair allow me to express my appreciation for the way you have guided our discussions on the multistakeholder question, as well as our substantive deliberations. Please be assured of my delegation’s full support. I would also like to thank Under Secretary General Izumi Nakamitsu for sharing her reflections. Chair, before I address the organization of work, I would like to make a few remarks on the situation in Ukraine. In this regard, I align myself with the statement delivered by the European Union and I would like to make some additional remarks in my national capacity. Our shared commitment to the Charter of the United Nations has been one of the foundational principles of our discussions on the use of ICTs in the context of international security. The charter is the backbone of the international rules based order. It is also very dear to my country. It was signed following two World Wars that inflicted unthinkable harm to communities across the world. Harm that did not spare my country. The duty to strengthen the international legal order is enshrined in my country’s constitution. While we meet today at UN headquarters, the Russian Federation continues to conduct its illegal and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine, a flagrant violation of the UN Charter. We condemn this in the strongest possible terms and stand in solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. We are strongly encouraged by the signs of solidarity with Ukraine and support for the international rules based order coming from so many parts of the world. This was also reflected by the overwhelming majority with which the General Assembly adopted the resolution titled aggression against Ukraine at the 11th Emergency special session. Chair, reports of the use of cyber operations against Ukraine are piling up. Reports of operations aimed at damaging critical infrastructure, disrupting essential services and threatening the safety and well being of Ukrainian citizens. These actions form an integral part of efforts to undermine the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and are not in conformity with the framework for responsible state behavior in cyberspace we all signed up to and this threat is not limited to Ukraine. It concerns us all. In 2017, NotPetya – a crippling malware attack targeting Ukraine – caused unprecedented spillover effects on hospitals, ports and supply chains around the world, amounting to an estimated 10 billion US dollars in damages. Currently, we do not know what is yet to come. The threats of further damage and possible spillover effects looms large. This chair, places the crisis in Ukraine squarely within our mandates. Chair, all of us in this room, as representatives of our countries carry part of the shared responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. That includes the crisis in Ukraine, but there are many other conflicts, causing severe human suffering in many different parts of the world. The Netherlands, for its part remains fully committed to multi-lateralism, diplomacy, and the rules based international order. In our interventions in the coming days, you can expect that we will reflect on how the war in Ukraine relates to the normative framework, and you will hear constructive proposals from our side. Now allow me to turn to the organization of work. Over the past months, many states expressed a wish for this process to engage with the multistakeholder community in a meaningful way. This approach featured prominently in the Secretary General’s Our Common Agenda. To be brief. I would like to echo all that has been sent on the importance of involving stakeholders in our discussions various proposals have been put on the table and we thank all delegations who have engaged on them constructively. However, despite our continued willingness to compromise, we have not seen any signs of meaningful reciprocity. Chair, the Netherlands is not in a position to further compromise on our values of inclusive and constructive multilateralism. While we are grateful to India for its proposal, we cannot accept reverting to the modalities of the previous Open-ended Working Group at this time. Since we have not yet been able to reach consensus on the organization of work due to such a crucial issue, we consider it appropriate to continue to address the substantive agenda items in informal mode until the modalities have been resolved. Thank you, Chair.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement, I give now the floor to Estonia to be followed by Mexico.


Thank you, Mr. Chair. Estonia aligns itself with the statement made by the European Union. But I would like to emphasize a couple of points in my national capacity. Like many others, I would have to start with condemning Russia’s brutal attack against Ukraine and its people. The war that the Russian Federation is conducting is against the security of all of Europe, and is a gross violation of the UN Charter and the principles of international law. We demand that the Russian Federation immediately ceases its hostilities, withdraws of all of its troops from the territory of Ukraine, respects the teritorial integrity of Ukraine and abide to the UN General Assembly resolutions titled Aggression Against Ukraine, and Humanitarian Consequences of the Aggression Against Ukraine. There is also a growing amount of evidence that the Russian Federation has conducted malicious cyber operations against Ukraine. Using cyber tools, as part of its warfare was something to be expected from the aggressive modus operandi of Moscow. Now we see it in practice. There is no justification whatsoever, for malicious cyber operations targeting critical infrastructure, communication systems, public key services, their banking system or the media. In regard to the question of modalities, it is unfortunate that we are in current position, we commend the chair’s efforts to find a compromise. However, while Estonia and many others have shown clearly our commitment to reach an agreement, the Russian Federation has not shown any willingness to reach a common ground. Also, today, we do not see any progress on the issue of stakeholders modalities. We therefore support the proposal made by our colleague from the United States to proceed in informal setting as a standard practice of the UN. We would also support Canada’s proposal to provide the translation services as well as the continued broadcasting of the meeting. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement, I give now the floor to Mexico please.


Thank you very much chair. At the outset, I would like to mention that the GA has been clear in its resolutions S11/1, S11/2 as well. And we call for these resolutions be applied fully. Chair, the position of Mexico concerning participation by other stakeholders, specifically civil society members is clear. And we have illustrated it throughout this process. In that regard, we ask that you continue your efforts to reach consensus in this area. We believe that your proposal, as we’ve said before, of last December, was very close to achieving consensus. For that reason, we commend your efforts. The meeting that you mentioned is going to be held tomorrow as we understand it, and for that reason, we reiterate the need to arrive at an agreement with regard to what your proposals put forward. Concerning an official holding of different efforts as we wait to come to a formal agreement on the participation of stakeholders, we fully align ourselves with the opinion of Canada when it comes to having interpretation and a live-feed transmission of the work that we carry out. Thank you very much Chair.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement I give now the floor to Cuba, followed by Denmark. Cuba, please.

Thank you, chair. We welcome the initiation of the second substantive session of the Open-Ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communication technologies for 2021 to 2025, the only format that allows us to address challenges in this area with participation by all member states of the United Nations in an inclusive, democratic and transparent way. Chair we reiterate our appreciation for your efforts and we mention once more our support of your efforts so that we might find joint cooperation in the areas of security and promoting the use of ICTs within a context of international security. We call for participation by all states. In this context, we support all efforts by the chair and the Secretariat to facilitate the delivery of visas to the pertinent delegations without discrimination, including the Cuban delegation, which continues to wait for visas for two of its members. We hope that this second session will allow us to progress in substantive conversations remaining faithful to the workflow established in resolution 75/240 of the UNGA we ask that the work of the group not be politicized. We recognize the important contribution that NGOs might make as well as other stakeholders within this area. We should respect the modalities and practices of previous sessions without bringing new modalities in. The inter-governmental nature of the GTSA must be respected and UN procedures for relations with the NGOs as shown in resolution by ECOSOC 19, including the principle of non-objection by Member States. Chair, given that, sadly, we have not reached an agreement on modalities for participation for other actors within this group we find it timely that we take back up the conversation of December of 2021. Concerning the development of substantial sessions as displayed by the chair’s statements with different actors, we reiterate our support and our commitment to a successful result for this substantive session. Thank you.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement, I give now the floor to Denmark, please.


Mr. Chair, thank you for convening this session. And thank you for your tireless commitment to the OEWG process. Let me start by saying that Denmark fully aligns with the views put forward by Finland in the joint statement from the Nordic countries, as well as the statement from the European Union. Allow me to emphasize some points in my national capacity. Denmark stands in full solidarity with Ukraine, as well as the Ukrainian people. And we condemn the unprovoked military terror aggression by the Russian Federation in the strongest possible terms. Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, a free and sovereign country and a member of the United Nations is a gross violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter, and it undermines the core principles of the international rules based order that forms the basis of the United Nations. We therefore demand that Russia immediately and completely and unconditionally ceases its military actions, withdraws his forces from the territory of Ukraine and respect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. In addition, we call on Russia to stop its use of cyber attacks against Ukraine, respect international law and adhere to the norms of responsible state behavior in cyberspace, endorsed by all UN member states. For years, we have seen how Ukraine has served as Russia’s playground for cyber attacks, sometimes with major consequences and spillover effects that threatens the security, stability and prosperity of our societies. The NotPetya attack in 2017 is one clear example of such irresponsible behavior. These malicious cyber activities are unacceptable, and they cause serious doubt over Russia’s commitment to ensure a free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace and its intentions behind its participation in the work of the OEWG. Mr. Chair, I would like to emphasize that Denmark remains dedicated to engage constructively with all relevant stakeholders in order to further develop rules and norms of responsible state behavior in cyberspace. And to promote cooperative measures aimed at ensuring security in the use of ICTs. States cannot do it alone. Non-state stakeholders, including stakeholders from the private sector, academia and civil society plays key role when it comes to the use of the ICTs and the implementation of norms and principles in cyberspace. It is therefore crucial that all relevant stakeholders are given the possibility to formally share the invaluable insights with the OEWG. Failing to include multi-stakeholders could undermine the outcome of the second substantive session, as well as the work of the previous OEWGs and GGEs. Also, it would impede the likelihood of reaching sustainable outcomes. We therefore deeply regret that we have not yet been able to agree on the modalities for multistakeholder participation. Despite the willingness to compromise and to reach an agreement on modalities that Denmark and many other members have shown at our last substantive sessions we allowed formal discussions to continue on the basis that progress was to be made before the end of the first session. However, no progress was made, as a small group of member states refused to compromise on the modalities. For this reason, it is Denmark’s position that we cannot adopt the program of work and proceed with formal discussions before an agreement on modalities is reached. We do not wish to set a bad precedent, and in any way indicate that we have found an agreement on the modalities. We can however, support the process put forward by the UK, the US and Canada. And to proceed informally. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you, for the statement. I have about 10 more speakers, and I’d like to request all delegations to be as brief and succinct as possible. Italy, you have the floor now please.


Esteemed colleagues and dear Chair, thank you for convening us here this week. As USG Nakamitsu and yourself have mentioned, we firmly believe that the topics we will be discussing are of the utmost importance and relevance, also taking into account current developments. We share your assessment that this process is in itself a confidence building measure. And as strong supporters of multilateralism, Italy believes that the UN offers the correct setting to hold these conversations. This organization is the pillar of multilateralism and its charter is the book by which we have all agreed to conduct our business here. We wish to carry on doing so. And we hope that you as chair of this process will be able to offer such guarantee for the benefit of all. And you can count on Italy’s support for that. As always, Italy aligns itself to the EU statement. Notably the words of dismay for the unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine, joining our voice to at least 141 other voices in this room. The Russian Federations blatant violation of international law and humanitarian principles, which is causing unprecedented harm to millions of people with actions which has not been seen on the European continent since the end of the Second World War is waning out, albeit on a different scale in the context of our work, the trust, which had been built with great difficulty and sacrifice at the last OEWG. Honestly, it seems ages since, dear chair, the cautious optimism which surrounded the adoption of both the OEWG and GGE reports only a few months back before the 23rd of February. The appalling events that have occurred have stretched the notion of time and created a rift that is highly detrimental to any diplomatic process. And it is even more so for a group that requires trust as the first ingredient because of the topics it deals with. Chair, the essence of our job is to give and take, negotiate, come to compromise. Unfortunately, in the wider context of the OEWG process, as of lately, we have seen very little of this art being performed. But we have not given up on the possibility that it might resume soon. We had supported also your last compromise proposal on the multistakeholder consultations, albeit not entirely to our liking, but a satisfactory basis to carry on our work and focus on substance, as you have asked us to. The silence procedure was, however, broken by the Russian Federation later supported by a few others. We regret this, as a position of Russia on this issue has not only not moved a single inch since the beginning of this process, rather, it has taken us back to square one. And this is not what we would call the art of compromise. However, precisely because we cherish the inclusivity of this process, and believe that all 193 states need not be taken hostage by these few delegations, and to make the most out of the agenda that you, dear Chair have put together for us, yet again, in the spirit of compromise and taking into account that the program of work has not been agreed yet, because of the obstructive positioning of the same two delegations, we would agree to carrying on discussions this week on an informal basis, as proposed by the US. We also support the proposal by Canada for translation and UN TV and hope that the question asked by China can be answered affirmatively. Let’s just keep the OEWG as an opportunity for the international community to exchange an open, inclusive and transparent manner on the responsible use of ICTs by states in a manner that is consistent with their international obligations. As mentioned at the beginning of our statement, Italy believes that we should follow the rules of the book. And this does allow us the possibility to continue discussions on an informal basis, until the multistakeholder consultations issue will be agreed upon. We have been successful at tackling this issue. In very recent times in other UN processes. I am sure we will not fail in the OEWG and we’ll be glad to support your efforts in bringing everyone together to advance this issue as quickly as possible in order to be able to move back to formal consultations. Thank you, Chair.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement. I give now the floor to Ireland to be followed by Nicaragua. Ireland, please.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ireland also thanks, the Under Secretary General Nakamitsu for her opening remarks and of course to your team for organizing this meeting. And we align ourselves with the statement made by our EU colleague. Speaking in my national capacity, Ireland condemns in the strongest possible terms Russia’s act of aggression against Ukraine, which fundamentally violates international law, including international humanitarian law and the UN Charter and which has triggered a massive humanitarian crisis. We are appalled by these actions, including malicious cyber activity and cyber attacks against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and the extensive use of ICTs and the internet to spread and amplify disinformation. We call on Russia to immediately cease its military actions and abide by the UN General Assembly Resolution aggression against Ukraine, which is supported by 141 states to end the human misery caused by this senseless and unlawful war. Mr. Chairman, turning to the other issue, we very much welcomed the informal meeting that you chaired last Thursday, where NGOs, civil society, academia and business are represented. Many states also joined the meeting and like Ireland, I’m sure they gained very useful key insights and valuable perspectives on a range of issues on the OEWG agenda. For Ireland, inclusivity at the OEWG means that all members of the UN are given the opportunity to express their views and concerns on the shared challenges that we face. And with the cyber domain and ICT infrastructure mostly in private hands, as highlighted earlier by the Under Secretary General, we also firmly believe that transparent, inclusive and meaningful engagement with experts from the private sector from academia and civil society is both necessary and indispensable to our discussions. Their participation would add considerable legitimacy and credibility to our work at all levels. The spirit of compromise that underlines and underpins our multilateral work helped secure agreements on the OEWG reports which was agreed just over a year ago, and many states like Ireland’s have sought to continue this at our recent though OEWG meetings, but we faced a lack of reciprocity. For the reasons outlined in detail, including by my colleagues earlier, and to ensure that the OEWG continues with its work we support the proposal that meetings proceed on informal basis until modalities are agreed. Including in the interest of transparency, we also support Canada’s proposal for discussions to be broadcast on UN TV. Mr. Chair, we greatly value your work and your efforts and remain strongly committed to engaging constructively with you. And with all the states to promote, secure and support peace and stability in cyberspace. Thank you.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement, I give now the floor to Nicaragua.


Thank you very much chair. We welcome participation in this second substantive session of the Open-ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communication technologies for 2021 to 2025 GTSA. This is a historic and unprecedented platform that allows us to address challenges in this particular area, and that has participation by all member states of the United Nations in an inclusive, transparent, and democratic way. I would like to congratulate you for the leadership that you have shown in difficult times, you can count on our support for your constructive efforts in building this working group for the search of consensus in the challenges that we face. As a small developing nation, our hope is that during the second session we will be able to progress in our substantive discussions, and that we remain loyal to the mandate of this working group established in Res 75/240 of the UN General Assembly. We ask also that this group’s work not be politicized. Our delegation has shown since the beginning its recognition of the important contributions by NGOs and other stakeholders in the GTSA. However, this must be continued, while respecting the modalities and practices of previous sessions. While we have not come to a consensus on modalities, yet, we do believe that states should be the ones to take decisions and respect the inter-governmental nature of this process. UN processes should also be respected when it comes to relating with NGOs, as shown in ECOSOC, resolution 1996/31, including the application of the principle of non-objection by Member States. Once more chair, we lament the fact that we have yet to achieve an agreement on modalities for participation by stakeholders in this process, which is why we believe that we should continue our conversation from December of 2021 concerning this development of our substantive sessions, as well as informal exchange, supported by the chair with different actors. We reiterate the statement given by our delegation, to work jointly with all actors in order to achieve a successful result during this substantive session. Thank you very much.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement. I give now the floor to Belarus to be followed by Venezuela.


Allow me to congratulate you for your work as well as your team for allowing us to continue our work in the second substantive session of the Open-ended Working Group of security and in the use of information and communication technologies. You have our full support and we are confident that your leadership will help us to successfully move forward with this session. There are many crimes throughout the world and the numbers are rising. Human values are suffering and entire societies are suffering. This is concerning to us, especially because critical infrastructure is being targeted, like health infrastructure and educational infrastructure. Different actors use ICTs and many are being accused of using ICTs. Information Systems undermine our efforts when it comes to regulating the use of ICTs. Many developing nations cannot defend themselves in this area, and we must help them to strengthen their efforts, we need a global approach so that we can adopt a mandate aligned with resolution 75/240. We hope that we’ll be able to hold constructive dialogue that will allow us to reach successful results and bring about responsible behavior in the area of ICTs so that we can avoid conflicts related to these technologis. We cannot politicize the format of our work, especially when these mandates are handed down by the General Assembly. To conclude, I would like to say that Belarus truly hopes to participate in this process so that we can reach successful results and we wish all participants full success at the end of these sessions.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for this statement. I give now the floor to Venezuela.


Chair, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela expresses its satisfaction for the beginning of the second substantive session of the Open-ended Working Group. Our delegation would like to thank you, Chair and the Secretariat for the arduous efforts that you have undertaken to hold this meeting. The Open-ended Working Group is the one and only inter-governmental inclusive forum within the United Nations set to create a framework in which the advances of ICTs are guaranteed not to be used against international peace and security. With the approval of resolution 75/240 the General Assembly created a mandate for the Open-Ended Working Group on the security of and in the use of information and communication technologies. The implementation of this mandate should be consolidated with a spirit of inclusion and with a perspective that will take into account many different opinions and ideologies. Understanding the current context at the international level we ask all parties to maintain a constructive spirit and not to politicize these debates. Chair, we welcome contributions by civil society members and other stakeholders within the framework of that displayed in paragraph 4 of resolution 75/240 which established the working group. It is for that reason that my delegation has taken note of the recent consultation carried out with various stakeholders, despite the fact that we have yet to reach an agreement on modalities for their participation. The ECOSOC resolution 1996/31 concerning the constructive relation between the UN and non-governmental organizations, sets a framework for defining these modalities. Lacking an agreement among member states in this area, we should apply the modalities adopted last December by the working group, which contributes to two results, we’ll be able to hear the voices of various stakeholders, and we will also be able to progress in the substantive items on the inter-governmental agenda of the working group. Our delegation, we also align itself with what is expressed in paragraphs eight and nine of resolution 76/126 of December 17th of 2021, through which, among other things, the General Assembly expressed its great concern when visas are not delivered to members of certain delegations. So we ask that visas be expeditiously delivered to all member state representatives, pursuant to Article 4 sections 11 and 13 of the headquarters agreement. Chair, to conclude, allow me to express the desire of my delegation to move forward positively and constructively towards the goals of our working group, you can count on the support of Venezuela in that effort. Thank you, Chair.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement. I give now the floor to the Russian Federation to be followed by Egypt. Russian Federation, please.


Distinguished Chair, thank you. You know, I would like to speak more not to our western opponents and critics, because this seems completely pointless given the pre-prepared statements that you have made, which are all saying the same thing, I would rather like to speak to representatives of the silent majority. As you can see, the group of Western states is undermining our work. It is using every means, every excuse to this end. In this way, they are truly revealing their true position within the Open-ended Working Group. If they’re unable to block the format, well, then they have to block its work from within. In the current situation, who will suffer the most consequences from this will, it be the technologically advanced countries? Well, I doubt that. They have enough capacity to address any emerging issues and to eliminate threats. The biggest victims will be developing states. Those who need capacity building the most, and for whom the OEWG format has created the first ever opportunity for constructively and thoroughly participating in this kind of international platform. You are being denied this opportunity, you have to be clear about this. In order to prevent our substantive discussions under the OEWG mandate, we are constantly being told about new topics for discussion. Our attention keeps being distracted from the main topics of discussion. The latest such suggestion was about changing the format of the meeting and holding it in an informal format. As far as we understand, this would require making the relevant decision and this decision would have to be made on a consensus basis. Of course, we are unlikely to support such a decision and this is why we find ourselves in another dead end. And we will all have to figure out how to resolve this situation, but we will nevertheless not address the questions which we gathered here to discuss in the first place. The UNGA has mandated us with holding a formal session, we had agreed upon the dates ahead of time. Moreover, I will say the following. We made preparations for interpreting, for broadcasting, we prepared the financial means from the organization’s regular budget. As all of you are well aware, the regular budget is made up of our regular contributions from all of our states. So it is unclear to us on what basis the chairman will be preparing the interim report. If all of the opinions that are voiced here at the session are informal in nature, and they will have an informal status. We don’t see any reason to decide to transfer our format into an informal one. We believe that we could continue our meeting just like during the first OEWG session, In December of last year, without adopting the program of work, especially given the fact that our agenda the OEWG agenda has already been set. This means that the list of topics to be discussed is already known. As for question of principle with respect to modality, the modality of interaction with stakeholders, many accusations have been made towards Russia and one of these accusations is that we are supposedly not flexible enough that we are not open to compromise. Well, I would like to tell those of you who perhaps didn’t hear us, didn’t listen to our position very well. Our step to move towards you on this issue is supporting the proposal by India. This proposal suggests using the modalities from the first session for one year for a temporary period of time, we believe that this is a rather flexible approach and shows that we are ready to compromise. We hope that this will allow you to stop seeking excuses to block our work and will continue to engage in a constructive, wide ranging dialogue with all interested stakeholders. We believe that attempting to resolve this issue could be done within an informal subgroup to decide upon the modalities for working with NGOs. Now whether we can form such a group that is determined by our mandate, including by item four which states that the OEWG may, is not required to but it may consider working together with NGOs. And the same point, point four, provides for the potential creation of thematic subgroups. We believe that it is absolutely clear to us that this issue needs to be examined the issue of modalities with NGOs as part of an informal thematic subgroup. This group could work on an intercessionary basis in order to seek ways to resolve this dead end situation. Now, during the mandate of this group, during its work, as it seeks a solution to continue substantive work, we could follow the example of the first group on interactions with NGOs. And then we could finally allow our chairman to fully begin to work within our working groups mandate, thank you.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement. I’ve got three more speakers, and I’d like to finish them. And I’d like to ask the speakers to be as succinct as possible. I’ll give now the floor to Egypt to be followed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, Egypt please.


Thank you, Mr. Chair. At the outset, I would like to join other delegations expressing our appreciation to your able and wise leadership to guide the work of this group, and also to find common ground between different sides on lending issues. Mr. Chair, we have listened carefully and fully understand all views expressed by different delegations. While we encourage delegations to show flexibility to reach consensus on the pending issues, and I would like to highlight the following remarks. First, we reiterate the importance of maintaining the agreed practices regarding the format of the OEWG meetings, as well as the continuity without interruption to its work, taking into consideration that the OEWG in the only process tackling cyber issues within the United Nations. During this critical time when building bridges and stepping up our efforts to building trust between countries is highly needed. And also, as you mentioned, Mr. Chair, it is an important step towards the Confidence Building Measures between member states. It is also important to adopt the program of work in the same time to keep the discussions and the informal discussions going on the stakeholders and modalities, perhaps during the lunch evening time during this week, or may consider also postponing the afternoon session and hold informal discussions regarding the modalities to give another chance to reaching consensus on the spending issue. Then member states might decide how the best to proceed forward, bearing in mind that a big number of delegations maybe did not get the chance to speak today, as they might be more focused on the substantive issues that we are all gathered here to discuss. In this context, we have supported the Indian proposal of applying the stakeholders modalities of the OEWG 1921 for almost a year. And we have also suggested applying stakeholders and modalities of the new OEWG on conventional munition, which is newly agreed by all member states and presented a compromise between different positions in order to allow a meaningful stakeholders participation on the work of the third session, and also to conclude the discussions on organizational issues, as well as to reach a satisfactory substantive outcome that makes meaningful progress on this highly important topic. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement. I give now the floor to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Please,

Mr. Chair, at the outset, I’d like to welcome you on your return to the helm of this global democratic and inclusive process focused on security and in the use of information and telecommunications technologies. My country has been supporting this process, with the hope that a professional and not politicized approach would lead us to safe and secure cyberspace. However, it is regretful to see that this august body for the time being is getting distracted from meeting its real mandate. We agree with your guidance and view to focus only on the assigned job to this OEWG, and also your call to all delegations to do so aiming at reaching a balanced solution on substantial issues through negotiation and accommodating views of the whole membership. Concerning the question on the program of work. We have already raised some observations on that, especially about the suggested meeting with the stakeholders on 31st of March, while the modalities for the participation of the stakeholders have not been finalized and in this case it is the practice that the previous modalities should be in place. We do not object to the proposed meeting with the understanding that this will not set a precedent for future. As a principal position we value the interaction with the stakeholders on an informal basis and have already expressed our support for the Indian proposal to continue the practice. We hope that this period will allow all delegations to have a realistic assessment of the situation rather than speculations on the politicized perspective, we are confident that applying this approach will be satisfactory to all. Having said that, it is a regret to learn that the host country didn’t issue visas for the capital delegates of some member states, including mine. It is obvious that this goes against the clear obligations of the host country, and also the UN principle of equal footing of the member states, as well as the required inclusivity of this process. Mr. Chair, we appreciate your efforts to follow up on the visa issue and urge the host country to honor its legal obligations and issue visas in a prompt manner and without any politicized approach. Inclusivity should be realized, especially on this matter as a priority because this process is state driven. In addition, it is not acceptable to take the process hostage of inconsistent and politicized requests, either about the program of work or the participation of stakeholders. Also concerning the idea of convening the current substantive session as informal, we would like to highlight that this suggestion definitely can undermine the status of the process and is in clear contrast with the program and budget allocated to this process. We have not gathered here to spend the UN resources on an informal business. Furthermore, it will have implications on the annual report of the group that should be discussed and prepared in the next substantive session per your guidance Mr. Chair. Also broadcasting the discussions on the UN web TV will not compensate the required efficiency of the delegations who have faced the unacceptable issue of visa by the host country. Last not least Mr. Chair, my delegation is ready to play its constructive role and expects to start the substantial work of the OEWG formally and as soon as possible. Thank you.

Ambassador Gafoor

Thank you for the statement. Last speaker China. You get the floor, please.


Mr. Chairman, I’d like to make a second statement. My personal feelings is that all parties have a clear differences with regard to the program of work according to the instruction of the capital. Before we have a prepared statements, but taking into the consideration that a lot of colleagues mentioned the issue of security and rules, and this is in lines with the principles of the prepared statements. Therefore, I would like to make a prepared statement. Mr. Chair, I would like to thank Nakamitsu, for her participation and for her statements made this morning. China will fully support your work. And we believe that under your able leadership, we will have meaningful discussions and reach meaningful results in this session. I would like to point out that recently the cyberspace has been neither peaceful nor calmed. Therefore, in this context, as the only UN process on information security, we should be united rather than divided. We should seek dialogue rather than confrontation, which would send a positive signal to the outside worlds in maintaining peace and stability in cyberspace, and work together to build a community of shared future in cyberspace. First, maintaining peace in cyberspace is crucial. Peace has always been a top priority of China’s cybersecurity policy. Over the years, China has been calling for the establishment of a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace. Regrettably, during the consultation on the reports of the GGE, certain countries insisted that peace should be placed behind promoting an open, secure, stable assessable and peaceful ICT environment. But I would like to point out that the truth is that peace is the precondition and foundation for promoting an open, secure, stable, and accessable ICT environment. Second, cyber security concerns the common security of all countries, cyberspace is a community with a shared future for all countries to co-exist and prosper. China believes that it is impossible for one country to be safe while other countries are not. And it is possible for some countries to be safe while others are not. And one should not seek so called absolute security for oneself at expense of the security of other countries. Actions by certain countries, such as relying on his own cyber military advantages showing off the development of offensive cyber military power, introducing military alliances into cyberspace and promoting the formulation of rules of engagement in cyberspace, will not help maintain peace in cyberspace, and no country or military group will gain unilateral cybersecurity. Third, the first mover advantage in cyberspace should not be weaponized. China is concerned to see that in recent years, some countries have used basic internet resources and technological advantages as a tool to suppress other countries and impose unilateral sanctions. This not only damaged the security and stable connectivity of the global internet but also severely affects global security. Cyberspace is a common home for mankind and should not become a battlefield for countries. The legitimate rights and interests of countries should not be harmed. All parties should promote the establishment of a multilateral democratic and transparent global internet governance system. Lastly, the use of framework for responsible state behavior should not be selective. This framework is a hard won and important consensus in the UN sic information security process and should be fully, completely and accurately implemented. China regrets that some countries have already ignored the consensus that I quote, “countries should develop and implement globally interoperable common rules and standards for supply chain security”, unquote. While the 2021 consensus reports of OEWG and GGE were still fresh, these countries for narrow geopolitical purposes intentionally created close exclusive small circles for the discussion of supply chain issues. Therefore, it makes, some of us assume that this country’s true goal is to design a framework that all other countries abide by, but which they will ignore themselves. Mr. Chair, lastly, I would like to emphasize that under the current situation, multilateral process still play an very important role. It has not been paralyzed. China does not hope that this working group to be the first to be paralyzed, just as stated by Ms. Nakamitsu and Mr. Chairman at the beginning of the session, at the current situation, multilateral process is more important. China hopes that all parties can be flexible with each other, and avoid stalemate in this process. Thank you very much.

Ambassador Gafoor  

Thank you for the statement. Distinguished delegates, it’s almost 1pm. And I do not intend to summarize, but I wanted to say that I had not expected such a lengthy discussion on the organization of the meeting. But I think it was important that I hear the views of all delegations, which is why I did not at any point discourage delegations from taking the floor, but on the contrary, I gave every delegation an opportunity to speak and state their view, because if we really believe that this working group is a confidence building measure in itself, then it is important that we hear each other, even if we may have different views, or especially when we have different views. Which is why I thought that this morning, three hours of this morning’s meeting was useful as an exercise in listening to each other’s views. Second, the basis for the meeting is the resolution and the mandate adopted by the General Assembly. That is the parameter within which this working group operates. And it is also clear that we have to act on a consensus basis. That too is part of the mandate that has defined the parameter for the working group. And therefore, it is not up to the chair to impose either decisions on substance or decisions on organizational matters or decisions on procedure. I think I as the chair, it is my job to facilitate a consensus both on procedure as well as substance. Thirdly, it seems clear that there is a strong commitment to start the work of the working group. And there’s a strong commitment to a multilateral process like this one, and a strong recognition of the importance of the Open-ended Working Group as a platform for discussions on the issue of ICT security, even as we face many other challenges, right at this point. I found that at least as an encouraging signal on the part of every delegation to be committed to this process. But at this stage, having heard the discussions, it is clear that we do not have a consensus to adopt the program of work. And we do not have consensus to continue on meeting in a formal mode or in a formal format. Given the lateness of the hour, it is my intention to continue our discussions this afternoon. In the meantime, I will continue informal consultations with interested delegations. And I hope to be able to offer some way forward when we meet at 3pm. Provided, I sense that we are able to arrive at a consensus. If we are not in a position to arrive at consensus, then I am afraid we will need to continue spending time on organizational matters, which will prevent us from going to discussing some of the most important issues on our agenda. It is my sincere hope that we will be able to begin discussions on some of the most important issues on the agenda. I think that is the expectation of the international community as they watch us here in New York. And that is also the expectation of many delegations, which have come from afar to attend this meeting. So it is therefore my hope that over the lunch period that each one of you will reflect and see how we can allow the meeting to move forward in a way that will allow us to get into the substantive issues on the agenda. I know I’ve kept the interpreters waiting. It is beyond 1pm and I wanted to say that the meeting will resume at 3pm at the ECOSOC chamber. We will not be meeting here at 3pm but in the ECOSOC chamber at 3pm. The meeting is adjourned. Thank you

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