IGF 2019 WS #314 Where now? Navigating cybernorms at the UN First Committee

Organizer 1: Sheetal Kumar, Global Partners Digital
Organizer 2: Deborah Brown, Association for Progressive Communications

Speaker 1: Wolfram von Heynitz, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Olaf Kolkman, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Deborah Brown, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

What are the links between cybersecurity, international peace and security and roles and obligations of states when it comes to human rights?
What can the First Committee processes achieve? How can they work together? How do they relate to other cybernorms discussions?

Relevance to Theme: The year 2019 sees the launch of two high-level, parallel processes within UNGA’s First Committee that relate to cybersecurity: An Open-Ended Working Group and a Government Group of Experts (GGE). Both processes will consider how to promote cybersecurity by considering what defines responsible behaviour of states in cyberspace. These discussions therefore closely relate to the security, safety, stability and resilience of the internet.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Cybersecurity remains one of the most pressing issues in internet governance. Many of the policy discussions at the global level relate to the appropriate role of different stakeholders in ensuring cybersecurity, which is a key question in internet governance. Although there is widespread acknowledgement of the importance of an inclusive and multistakeholder approach to ensuring the security, stability and resilience of cyberspace, these discussions remain largely closed and securitised. There continues to be a lack of agreement on many key issues, including on what the duties and obligations of state actors are and how to enforce them, and how to interpret existing principles of international law, such as sovereignty, as well as the place of international human rights law in these discussions. These discussions therefore directly relate to a range of internet governance issues, including about the “norms, principles, and rules” that should govern the internet.

So far, the discussions within the First Committee, including most importantly the Group of Government Experts (GGE) have been important and have influenced other global cybersecurity policy processes. In the meantime, since the last GGE report (2015), many other bilateral, multilateral and multistakeholder efforts have contributed to the cybernorms discussion. At this new stage in the First Committee discussions, new approaches to the global governance regime for cybersecurity may be considered - particularly if the OEWG develops recommendations for a global treaty. Therefore, this is a critical juncture to assess and input into discussions at a forum which could fundamentally impact the governance of the internet.


Panel - Auditorium - 60 Min

Description: This workshop offers an opportunity to share information on the First Committee processes, discuss their progress so far and have an interactive discussion which it is hoped will feed directly into the processes. The end aim will be to facilitate a discussion among the international multistakeholder community on the OEWG and the GGE processes hear from the IGF community what they should address, and will therefore offer an opportunity to make these processes more open, inclusive and transparent. The IGF workshop will be held after the first OEWG substantive session (in September 2019) and just prior to the the GGE session in New York (December), as well as the first multistakeholder intersessional in December. It would therefore come at an important juncture in the discussions.

The workshop would also act as a follow-up to a session at the 2019 edition of RightsCon in Tunis, where stakeholders will also gather to discuss the processes and opportunities relevant to the First Committee processes.

The session will begin with information-sharing from the panelists on the processes and the discussions so far.

The panel would respond to three main questions:
1. What are the OEWG and the GGE and what are their aims?
2. Considering the agendas of the two processes, what should the outcomes be?
3. What are the challenges and opportunities for non-governmental engagement, and civil society engagement in particular?

The moderator will then facilitate an open and interactive discussion with participants so as to gather reflections on key issue areas and concrete proposals to feed into the processes. Finally, further opportunities for non-government engagement following the session will also be discussed and shared.

The process for constructing cybernorms shapes their content and it is therefore expected that the discussions in this workshop will be able to feed into the discussions of the GGE and OEWG, and will act as a reference for views from a multistakeholder grouping of the issues on the agendas of both processes. The IGF offers a unique space as a multistakeholder forum, connected to the UN to have these discussions. In this sense, the open, interactive nature of the IGF will promote more inclusivity into the First Committee processes.

Expected Outcomes: 1. Broader understanding of the global cybersecurity discussions
2. Concrete recommendations and suggestions to feed into two existing, high-level UN processes related to cybersecurity by a range of stakeholders

Onsite Moderator: 

Deborah Brown, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator: 

Sheetal Kumar, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Daniela Schnidrig, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Discussion Facilitation: 

One of the primary aims of the session is to gather perspectives on discussions related to cybersecurity in the UN's First Committee which directly impact internet users and the IGF community but which are unfortunately largely closed to non-governmental stakeholders. Therefore, following brief introductory remarks from the panelists, the audience will be offered ample time to input and will be asked to offer their perspectives on the First Committee processes.

Online Participation: 

The onsite moderator will turn frequently to take questions from the remote participants and the online moderator will pose questions from remote participants to the panel during the interactive discussion.


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