The 2023 edition of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) flagship Cyber Stability Conference (CS23) focused on “Use of ICTs by States: rights and responsibilities under the UN Charter”.
Nearly a decade ago, States agreed that international law is applicable and essential for a secure, stable, peaceful information and communications technology (ICT) environment. The remaining question is how international law applies to the use of ICTs by States. With the increasing frequency, sophistication and complexity of cyber threats, it is time for States to discuss more specifically how international law applies to the ICT environment.
To facilitate focused future deliberations and therefore meaningfully contribute to the advancement of multilateral negotiations, CS23 focused on the first source of international law that States agreed on as being applicable in cyberspace – the Charter of the United Nations (UN). Specifically, CS23 investigated the rights and obligations of the UN Charter applicable to cyberspace, including legal principles and thresholds related to topics such as the use of armed force; armed attack and self-defence; role and powers of the UN Security Council; and peaceful settlement of disputes.
In addition to providing a platform for the exchange of views among national experts, CS23 also featured introductory briefings from reputable scholars, adding clarity on key concepts and supporting meaningful participation of all States in the relevant multilateral discussions.
A playlist featuring all of the event’s sessions is available on UNIDIR’s YouTube Channel.
When & Where
The event was held on 3 March 2023, 09:30-18:00 (GMT-5).
Hybrid format – United Nations Headquarters (Conference Room 3, 405 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017, United States) and online.
Accessible text version also available below.
09:30–10:00 Conference opening
Dr Robin Geiss, Director, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
Ms Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, United Nations
HE Burhan Gafoor, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Singapore; Chair, Open-Ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies 2021-2025
10:00–11:30 Panel 1. Use of Armed Force in Cyberspace
The panel discussed the concept of the use of force in cyberspace and lawful reactions by the injured State(s).
Briefing by Prof Vera Rusinova, Professor and Head of the School of International Law, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russian Federation (with accompanying slides)
HE Marja Lehto, Ambassador and Senior Expert, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland
Ms Azucena Mayela Sahagún Segoviano, Head of the Multilateral Treaties Department, Office of the Legal Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico
Mr Robert M. Young, Legal Counsel, Criminal, Security and Diplomatic Law Division, Global Affairs Canada
Moderator: Dr Giacomo Persi Paoli (UNIDIR)
11:30–12:00 Coffee break
12:00–13:30 Panel 2. Armed Attack and Self-Defence in Cyberspace
The panel discussed the concept of an armed attack in cyberspace and self-defence (incl. questions of causality, degree of gravity and type of consequences).
Briefing by Dr Andraz Kastelic, Lead Cyber Stability Researcher, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (with accompanying slides)
Mr Artur R. Lyukmanov, Director, Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Information Security, Russian Federation
Mr John Reyels, Head, Cyber Policy Coordination Staff, Federal Foreign Office, Germany
Ms Maitê de Souza Schmitz, Counselor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil
Ms Briony Daley Whitworth, Director, Cyber Affairs and Critical Technology Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia
Moderator: Ms Katherine Prizeman (UNODA)
13:30–14:30 Light lunch
14:30–16:00 Panel 3. Role and Powers of the UN Security Council
The panel discussed the threat and breach of the international peace, concept of aggression in cyberspace and investigative powers of the UN Security Council.
Briefing by Prof Zhixiong Huang, Changjiang Outstanding Young Scholar Professor and Vice Dean of the Law School, Wuhan University, China (with accompanying slides)
Ms Sheila Flynn, Office Director, Global Policy, Plans, and Negotiations, International Cyberspace Security, Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, Department of State, United States
HE Nathalie Jaarsma, Ambassador at-Large for Security Policy and Cyber, Kingdom of the Netherlands
Ms Tshenolo Sebusang, Principal State Counsel, Ministry of Communications, Knowledge and Technology, Botswana
Moderator: Dr Andraz Kastelic (UNIDIR)
16:00–16:30 Coffee break
16:30–18:00 Panel 4. Peaceful Settlement of Disputes
The panel discussed the obligations imposed by the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes, potential venues of dispute settlement and good faith.
Briefing by Prof Hajer Gueldich, Professor, University of Carthage, Tunisia; Chairperson, African Union Commission on International Law (with accompanying slides)
Ms Riccarda Chanda, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Switzerland
HE Mohammad Aamir Khan, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Pakistan
Mr Harry Ormsby, Legal Adviser, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, United Kingdom
Moderator: Ms Moliehi Makumane (UNIDIR)