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Statement by DRP of Estonia Ms. Minna-Liina Lind at the First Committee Thematic Discussion on Other Disarmament Measures and International Security, New York, 23 October 2017

23.10.2017

Aligning ourselves fully with the statement by the European Union, I would like to highlight some specific issues to which Estonia attaches particular importance.

Estonia recognizes that the security in the cyber world has become an important issue in the context of wider international security. The role and involvement of the UN is getting therefore increasingly relevant. We believe it is necessary to raise the awareness of all UN members regarding the nature and importance of cyber security as an issue that affects the entire world. Simultaneously with the discussion on the Internet security, the same amount of attention should be dedicated to the freedom of expression in the Internet. The Internet must be both secure and free.

Cyberspace brings up a whole set of new and important issues, such as the application of international law and what constitutes a responsible state behaviour. On four occasions, Estonia has been part of the UN GGE on the Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security. We value highly the work done so far and are proud to have contributed with the participation of our high-level expert H.E. Ms Marina Kaljurand.

We participated in the work of the GGE with a view to achieve a consensus report that would be both ambitious and comprehensive. We were ready to discuss all different positions and wording proposals. It is regretful that the GGE did not achieve a report in 2017 and could not make any further progress in analysing how international law applies to the use of ICTs, particularly the principle of due diligence, non-forcible countermeasures, potential application of the right to self-defence and International Humanitarian Law. At the same time, we would like to recognize that significant progress was made in the chapters concerning new threats, confidence building measures, capacity building and norms of responsible behaviour. We should not ignore that and strongly suggest continuing the discussions in appropriate forums.

In our view, the GGE has altogether been a productive format. We have reached consensus on a number of recommendations, which the GA has repeatedly endorsed. It is our task, as states, to fully implement them.   

For Estonia, international law is the most prominent authority, including for the use of ICTs. We therefore strive for clarity and certainty of norms as it not only reduces the risk of intolerable practices, but provides transparency and predictability of behaviour that allows us to focus on peace. The fact that international law, in particular UN Charter in its entirety, applies to cyber, was agreed in 2013 and reconfirmed in 2015. This is a principal agreement and we would once again like to reiterate its significance and validity. No one should ever doubt it.

We fully support the establishment of a strategic framework for conflict prevention and stability in cyberspace that is based on international law, in particular the UN Charter, the development and implementation of universal norms of responsible state behaviour as well as regional confidence building measures and capacity building. We must continue our efforts, together with the work done in the OSCE, with the aim to increase transparency and build confidence in this realm.

Furthermore, the EU Framework for a Joint EU Diplomatic Response to Malicious Cyber Activities not only contributes to conflict prevention, but also constitutes an important step towards increased stability in cyberspace by bolstering the prevention, signalling and reactive capacities.

Current diplomatic efforts and operational actions, such as supporting wider respect for the existing legal instruments like the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, will continue unabated. The Council of Europe Convention on cybercrime is another useful tool at our disposal. We call upon all states, which have not yet done so to accede to this convention.

Finally, given the challenges, we are facing individually and collectively, it is extremely important to continue making efforts for concrete and tangible results.

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