We need to intensify our efforts to prevent crises in the cyberspace [fr]
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council Arria-formula meeting - 22 May 2020
I would like to thank Estonia for the organization of this meeting, as well as our briefers.
Our ever increasing reliance on information and communication technology brings immeasurable useful opportunities, which we are experiencing first hand as we are working remotely during the lockdown put in place to limit the spread of the COVID 19. However, in parallel to this accelerated digitalization of our lives, threats and malicious activities continue to intensify, as Mrs Nakamitsu highlighted ; they put at increasing risk national interests and they heighten the vulnerability of citizens, public services and businesses. This is why we must collectively develop a cyberspace that remains open, free, secure and stable and I would like to underline a couple of priorities for France in this regard.
First, we need to intensify our efforts to anticipate and prevent crises in the cyberspace. At the national level, this means developing, and sometimes clarifying, our national doctrines. But it also implies two main lines of efforts:
First, we must strengthen our resilience through capacity-building. This is why France has worked to build the cyber security capabilities of its partners, notably through the action of our cybersecurity agency, ANSSI, and in the European Union.
Second, we must prevent crisis by increasing trust and cooperation to reduce the risk of misperceptions and escalation. We need to use diplomatic channels and international fora to increase mutual understanding, encourage transparency regarding national doctrines, develop confidence-building measures and share information and best practices.
Unfortunately, anticipating crises is not enough. We therefore need to develop mechanisms to manage crises and prevent their escalation. To this aim, we need to build on the existing international framework.- The emergence of such a framework can only be based on the full implementation of international law as underlined by our Estonian host. France is keen to see a global recognition that international law, notably the UN Charter, international human rights law and international humanitarian law, is fully applicable to cyber space.
To be successful our approach should also take into account the complexity of the subject through calibrated discussions in the fora where they belong. We welcome the resuming of talks on cyber stability at the United Nations, and fully support existing processes in the Group of Governmental Experts and the Open-Ended Working Group. France supported and carried initiatives on confidence-building measures and norms in the OSCE, the G7 and the G20.
Lastly, we cannot only focus on States. We must develop a multi-stakeholder approach. States should retain a special responsibility and should not delegate it to private actors, but engaging collectively with private actors is critical.
With this in mind, France launched in November 2018 the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, which is now the largest multi-stakeholder initiative on cybersecurity, supported by 78 States and over 1000 non-State actors. This sends a powerful political message.
The fight against cybercrime is also a necessary condition for peace and stability in cyberspace. Existing instruments, such as the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, must be fully implemented and universalized. France supports the initiatives undertaken in this field, including by the Council of Europe, UNODC and Interpol.
France is also working with private digital companies to combat the spread of terrorist and violent extremist contents online, in particular within the G7, the Christchurch Call to action and the EU.
To conclude, cooperation, mutual dialogue and collective thinking are crucial to ensure the strategic stability of cyberspace, and to benefit fully from the positive opportunities offered. We welcome the possibility to do so today.