IGF 2023 WS #225 Risks and opportunities of a new UN cybercrime treaty

Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (23:30 UTC) - Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (02:00 UTC)
WS 4 – Room B-1

Cybersecurity, Cybercrime & Online Safety
Cyberattacks, Cyberconflicts and International Security

Organizer 1: John Hering, Microsoft
Organizer 2: Pavlina Pavlova, Cyber Peace Institute
Organizer 3: Ian Tennant, Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime

Speaker 1: Briony Daley Whitworth, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Claudio Peguero, Government, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Emmanuella Darkwah, Government, African Group
Speaker 4: Ian Tennant, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Timea Suto, Private Sector, Eastern European Group
Speaker 6: Michael Gilles, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


John Hering, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Pavlina Pavlova, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Ian Tennant, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Panel - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

A. What are the key risks and opportunities of the new UN cybercrime convention? What is the state-of-play? B. How can non-governmental stakeholders maximise impact in terms of positively influencing the outcome of the process in the time remaining? C. How can different stakeholders better co-operate to showcase real-life examples, good practices, and lessons learned so that the new convention builds upon what has worked in the past, fills potential haps and, ultimately, enables greater cooperation in combatting cybercrime?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Participants will gain an appreciation of the opportunities and risks inherent in the new UN cybercrime convention currently negotiated within the Ad Hoc Committee (AHC). This will come at a key time in the negotiating process – i.e., just as member states are likely gearing up to make final decisions. As such, participants will leave the session equipped to better advocate for their views as they pertain to the new convention – which, in turn will enable them to positively influence the public and diplomatic debate on the new cybercrime instrument.


UN member states, via a specifically established open-ended Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Committee (AHC), are currently in the process of elaborating a new UN cybercrime treaty. As it stands, negotiations are scheduled to be completed by early 2024. A new UN cybercrime convention comes with both opportunities and risks for all stakeholders. A positive outcome could see this convention build upon and expand the reach of existing instruments, enabling greater cooperation in combatting cybercrime based on existing frameworks. Additionally, a new cybercrime convention could potentially provide countries that have not yet signed up to existing instruments an alternative, but harmonized path towards strengthening cybercrime legislation and co-operation. However, this would require mitigating several key risks. One key concern is that a UN cybercrime convention could be incompatible with existing instruments. This would be counterproductive as it would fragment global efforts to counter cybercrime. In addition, there are concerns that a new convention could, inter alia, (a) undermine multistakeholder Internet governance in favour of greater state control, (b) undermine democratic freedoms by criminalizing certain kinds of speech and political content online, (c) threaten national security by directly regulating industry; and (d) weaken cybersecurity best practices and threaten security researchers. The session will feature a cross-regional selection of representatives from the governments, alongside representatives from industry and civil society.

Expected Outcomes

The session is expected to raise awareness about the need for more systematic and meaningful multistakeholder outreach to UN member states as they are in the process of finalizing their positions related to the new UN cybercrime convention. It will showcase key provisions of the draft text, highlighting both opportunities and risks from a multistakeholder and cross-regional perspective. The session could produce a set of best practices and recommendations for governments to take into account as they enter the final phase of negotiations for this new instrument.

Hybrid Format: The organizers will designate both onsite and online moderators to facilitate interactive discussion among speakers and the audience joining online and in person. To ensure online audience is properly engaged, we intend to encourage and prioritize questions from the online audience. Moreover, we intend to leverage technical tools that will be available to host an interactive hybrid discussion, such as by using online polling tools and dividing online audience into brake-out discussion groups to invite views on the AHC negotiations. To maximize the session's impact and drive up both in-person/online attendance, the co-organizers intend to work with speakers to amplify this session via their respective institutional social media accounts. Finally, to incentive the multistakeholder community to share their views and recommendations, we intend to propose to distill the main recommendations from this session into a multistakeholder contribution that could inform future AHC negotiations.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

A UN cybercrime convention has the potential to improve and streamline cooperation by governments in combatting cybercrime, improve capacities, and strengthen respect for human rights.

There are, however, challenges with the scope and human rights protections in the current draft of the treaty.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

All stakeholders are encouraged to review the next draft of the treaty once it is released, which is expected in November, ahead of the final scheduled round of negotiations in January 2024.

Stakeholders can engage in the negotiations by providing input to industry groups and civil society organizations accredited to participate, or reach out directly to member state delegations.