Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue: Subsea Communications Cables and Responsible State Behaviour

Geneva & Online
4 April 2023
Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue: Subsea Communications Cables and Responsible State Behaviour

Subsea communications cables are an essential element of the information and communications technology ecosystem, transmitting practically all our telecommunications and data. Their security and resilience are critical to the well-being and functioning of societies across the globe, and to international security and stability. While technological innovation is enabling faster and more widespread connectivity, the global network of subsea communications cables is facing continuous physical and cyber threats, requiring urgent policy and operational responses involving both State and non-State actors.

To further unpack this complex issue and support more specific discussions and actions aimed at ensuring the protection of this critical information infrastructure, UNIDIR’s Security and Technology Programme organized a multi-stakeholder dialogue that also served as a platform for the launch of the new UNIDIR report Wading Murky Waters: Subsea Communications Cables and Responsible State Behaviour.

A recording of the event is available on UNIDIR’s YouTube Channel or below.


10:00 – 10:10 Welcome remarks

  • Ms Manon Le Blanc, Head of the Cyber Policy Sector, European External Action Service (EEAS)
  • Dr Giacomo Persi Paoli, Head of Programme, Security and Technology, UNIDIR

10:10 – 10:30 Presentation of the UNIDIR Study on Subsea Communications Cables

  • Dr Camino Kavanagh, Senior Visiting Fellow, Department of War Studies, King’s College London and Non-Resident Scholar, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

10:30 – 11:20 Session 1: Threats and Vulnerabilities affecting Subsea Cable Systems* (Moderated by Dr Giacomo Persi Paoli, UNIDIR)

11:20 – 11:40 Coffee break

11:40 – 12:30 Session 2: Subsea Cable Governance and Policy Responses* (Moderated by Dr Camino Kavanagh, King’s College London and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

*Sessions 1 and 2 will consist of expert discussions. The list of discussants includes:

  • Mr Kent Bressie, International Law Adviser, International Cable Protection Committee
  • Ms Sandra Delany, General Counsel, Aqua Comms
  • Dr Tobias Liebetrau, Centre for Military Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen
  • Mr Pavel Mraz, Senior Project Manager, Digital Diplomacy, Microsoft
  • Dr Towela Nyirenda-Jere, Head of the Economic Integration Division, African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD)
  • Dr Amreesh Phokeer, Internet Measurement and Data Expert, Internet Society, Mauritius
  • Ms Noëlle Van der Waag-Cowling, Cyber Program Lead, Security Institute for Governance and Leadership in Africa (SIGLA)
  • Mr Simon Webster, Director, Submarine Networks, NEC Corporation


Delegations, cyber experts as well as members of the multistakeholder community including industry, civil society, and intergovernmental organizations. Geneva-based representatives and experts were encouraged to attend the multi-stakeholder dialogue in person.


The event took place on 4 April 2023, at 10:00-12:30 CEST.