IGF 2019 OF #22 Trust, Norms and Freedom in Cyberspace


Concept Note

International cooperation is the key to a successful digital state. It is also the goal of cyber diplomacy, which has become one of the key topics of international politics. It combines international security, internet governance, capacity building, and human rights online. Many states that support the multi-stakeholder governance model of the internet have made internet freedom one of their human rights priorities. Therefore, the underlying notion is that people should have the same rights online and offline and these rights must be protected. Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and security online are complementary concepts.

This open forum under the third programme theme of IGF 2019 with the focus on security, safety, stability and resilience will analyse the links between trust, norms and freedom in cyberspace. Taking place only a few days before the first meeting of the new UN GGE, the panel will create a platform for an exchange of thoughts and further analysis on how the existing norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace relate to the work of non-governmental organisations and the private sector.

The panel will focus on the ongoing discussions regarding the norms of cybersecurity (and internet governance) while keeping in mind the aim of preserving a free, open, and secure cyberspace. The key points of the discussion will emerge from the notion that there is a need to further discuss the implementation of norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace. The protection of human rights and basic freedoms in cyberspace is the underlying principle of internationally recognised cyber norms. The GGE, among others, has confirmed that states must comply with their obligations under international law to respect and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.


Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ms. Pille Kesler, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Speaker 1: Amb. Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar (Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a representative of the next UN GGE 2019-2021);

Speaker 2: Ms. Carmen Gonsalves (head of the International Cyber Policy Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and a representative of the next UN GGE 2019-2021)

Speaker 3: Ms. Mallory Knodel (Head of Digital for ARTICLE 19); 

Speaker 4: Mr. Goncalo Carrico (AT&T, Associate Director EU Affairs);

Moderator: Mr. Matthew Shears (member of the Board of ICANN).

Online Moderator

Mr. Matthew Shears


GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

1. Key Policy Questions and Expectations

The questions in this OF emerge from the general cybersecurity framework put forward by the previous GGE reports from 2010, 2013, and 2015:

  1. On norms and human rights:
  • In what ways could the OEWG and GGE processes support the protection of human rights?
  • How can the norms of responsible state behaviour that have been established and agreed upon in the 2010, 2013, and 2015 UN GGE reports contribute to freedom in cyberspace?
  1. On confidence-building measures (CBMs) and human rights:
  • What role do the UN GGE CBMs play in building trust in cyberspace between:
    • States?
    • Other stakeholders?
  • How can the GGE and OEWG processes contribute to accountable cyberspace?
  1. On capacity building and human rights:
  • What measures are being taken and at what level to achieve greater cybersecurity capacities?
  • What is the role of different actors in building cybersecurity capacities?
2. Summary of Issues Discussed

There was broad agreement among panellists on the importance of human rights to cybersecurity and of integrating human rights into the discussions on cyber norms. At the same time there was also concern expressed that respect for human rights has not improved since general recognition in a 2016 UN resolution that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online. Panellists suggested that the need for far greater coordination was never greater. There was hope that UN GGE and UN OEWG would work with existing cybersecurity norms and confident building measures. Multistakeholder engagement in cybersecurity norms  and CBMs was seen as critical. There was agreement that cybersecurity and human rights are not inherently in opposition or at odds. 

6. Estimated Participation

80 (45 women) onsite participants