Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Mr.Alexander Radovitskiy, the representative of the Russian delegation, at the Eighth Session of the UN open-ended Working Group on security of and in the use of ICTs 2021-2025 under agenda item "Existing and potential threats"

Distinguished Mr.Chair,

Dear Colleagues,

We align with the joint statement on the draft of the third annual progress report of the UN Open-ended Working Group on Security in the Use of ICTs 2021-2025 delivered by the representative of Nicaragua.

In our national capacity, we would like to note that the key task at the eighth session of the Group is to agree on the abovementioned draft report. The focus of attention is on finding compromise on the parameters of the succeeding negotiation format. Most States, including Russia, are ready for constructive work. However, at this point delegations are facing an overly ambitious task of negotiating more than 50 pages. In this regard, we request the Chair to shorten the future report significantly for ease of the negotiation process. This could be done by deleting paragraphs that duplicate previous agreements reached within the OEWG (for example, paras 6, 15, 16, 19, 25, 30 d), h), 36 f), g), 37 a), c), d), 39, 41, 42 g), 48a), d), e), j)).

As for the introduction, we consider it important to correct – here and throughout the text – the imbalance in favour of the implementation of the so-called “framework for responsible State behavior in the use of ICTs” which is unacceptable for us. Instead of the vague concept of “framework”, it is reasonable to adhere to the mandate of the OEWG and the formula that is fixed in it, including the development of new rules, norms and principles of responsible behavior along with the implementation of previously agreed voluntary, non-binding rules (paras 3, 4). It is important to reflect in the document the strategic goal of elaborating legally binding agreements, as set out in the OEWG reports and the UNGA resolutions (paras 3, 5, 9, 11).

The introduction should also emphasize the need to ensure in-person participation of all representatives of national delegations, as well as other interested parties accredited to the OEWG, in its official sessions and inter-sessional meetings held at the UN headquarters, through the timely issuance of visas. The term “stakeholders” should be replaced with the wording “other interested parties” as per the Group’s mandate.

With regard to the section on existing and potential threats in the ICT field, we believe it is necessary to reflect – primarily, in the recommendations – the development of an international legal framework as an effective measure to address challenges in the digital environment in the context of international security (para 28). No less important is to emphasize the role of the global, intergovernmental Points of Contact Directory for exchange of information on computer attacks/incidents which was also established for this purpose (para 29) and represents the first practical outcome of the OEWG, allowing for direct interaction between competent authorities of States with a view to preventing conflicts.

It is incorrect to state that voluntary norms and confidence-building measures constitute obligations for States in the digital sphere, especially under the abovementioned “framework” for behaviour (para 26). The obligations of countries may arise solely from norms of the international law. With regard to voluntary rules, there should be provisions stating that their implementation must not be used to assess the activities of States and lead to escalation of tensions in information space.

We assume that the malicious use of ICTs poses a threat to all types of critical infrastructure and critical information infrastructure (paras 14, 15). Therefore, there is no reason to single out the supposedly most vulnerable areas (healthcare, energy, electoral processes, undersea cables, etc.).

Taking into account the mandate of the OEWG and its accountability to the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, it seems reasonable to focus on aspects of the illegal use of ICTs that pose a threat to international peace and security, rather than for individuals or societies (paras 17, 19). We propose to delete a number of vague and overlapping provisions (in paras 19, 20, 21, 22), as well as topics that fall out of scope of the Group – for example, cryptocurrencies (para 19) and gender issues (paras 10, 25).

Thank you for attention.