IGF 2023 WS #268 How to increase synergy between UN cyber processes?


Avoiding Internet Fragmentation
International Legal Perspectives

Organizer 1: Talita Dias, Chatham House - The Royal Institute of International Affairs
Organizer 2: Rowan Wilkinson, Chatham House

Speaker 1: Michael Karimian, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Joyce Hakmeh, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Briony Daley Whitworth, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Danielle Yeow, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Talita Dias, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Rowan Wilkinson, Civil Society, Intergovernmental Organization


Talita Dias, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What are the mandates, achievements, and pitfalls of the three main UN processes – the OEWG, the Ad hoc Committee for an International Cybercrime Convention, and the GDC?
2. What are the roles and modes of participation of different stakeholders within each forum, and to what extent are these actors able to shape the development and outcomes of these processes?
3. How can better synergies between the three processes be facilitated by different stakeholders to avoid the fragmentation of Internet governance?

What will participants gain from attending this session? This session will be divided into two parts: a) an in-conversation between speakers, and b) an interactive dialogue between speakers and participants, both of which will be facilitated by the moderator. In the first part, participants will gain a better understanding of the mandates, progress, and pitfalls of the three main UN fora for the discussion of ICT-related issues (the OEWG, the Ad hoc Committee on Cybercrime, and the GDC), including the roles of different stakeholders. At the interactive discussion, participants will be invited to share their views on the three processes as well as to propose concrete ideas on how to improve dialogue and ensure greater consistency between them. Insights from participants will be sought and gathered via questions posed by them and to them (from the speakers and moderator), as well as an online survey to ensure that specific proposals are documented for analysis following the session.


Three key processes have been established before the United Nations (UN) to address the governance of information and communications technologies (ICTs), including the Internet and emerging digital technologies like AI. First, in 2019, the General Assembly set up an Ad hoc Committee to Elaborate an International Cybercrime Convention aimed at enhancing “coordination and cooperation among States in combating the use of [ICTs] for criminal purposes”. A year later, the Open-ended Working Group on the security of and in the use of information and communications technologies (OEWG) was established by the General Assembly to address issues relating to “responsible State behaviour in cyberspace”. More recently, the Secretary-General proposed to adopt a Global Digital Compact (GDC) setting out “shared principles for an open, free and secure digital future for all”. The three processes are ongoing and address distinct but overlapping issues, including the use of ICTs for malicious purposes, data protection, and human rights. They each bring to the table a diverse group of stakeholders in complementary areas of expertise. Despite the obvious crossovers and potential for mutually beneficial exchanges, the three processes have taken place in isolation. They currently lack a formal or informal cross-forum mechanism to foster dialogue. Discussions within each group have also failed to consider the progress of other groups. This session proposes to break these silos by discussing how synergies between those UN cyber processes can be facilitated. It will bring together representatives of different stakeholder groups that have engaged in each process, namely government representatives from developing (Colombia) and developed countries (Australia), UNODC, academia, a think tank and industry. The speakers will share their perspectives on the progress and hurdles of each process and brainstorm practical solutions to improve cross-fertilisation, through formal and informal approaches, and limit the risks of further fragmentation in governance efforts.

Expected Outcomes

The session seeks to inform different stakeholders about key substantive and procedural questions facing the three UN processes and exchange views on practical ways to ensure greater consistency between them. These discussions will yield an outcome document outlining the session discussions and making concrete proposals for States, relevant UN bodies, companies, civil society, and other stakeholders to strengthen the joint work of the three fora. It is expected that both the session and the outcome document will contribute to shaping the views and policies of these various stakeholders as they develop before each forum. It is also hoped that they will empower marginalized or underrepresented groups of stakeholders, such as civil society representatives in developing countries and women. The proposals will also be submitted by the organisers as part of dedicated stakeholder consultations before the OEWG, the Ad hoc Committee and the GDC.

Hybrid Format: To facilitate interaction between onsite and online speakers and attendees, the session will have a dedicated online moderator who will take online questions first. The onsite moderator will also invite questions and insights from both online and onsite attendees, allowing online ones to use the ‘raise hand’ function to speak. To ensure that the speakers have understood the attendees’ questions/comments, particularly online, the moderator will summarise/clarify these as needed. To ensure the best experience for online and onsite participants, the session will be broken down into two parts. The first part will give online and onsite speakers the opportunity to share/exchange their views on the policy questions. The second part will allow online and onsite attendees to engage directly with speakers. To increase participation and interaction during the session, an online survey tool (SurveyMonkey or Polis) will be used to gather the insights of all participants, especially on question 3.