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PIR Center, UNIDIR, GCSP held an expert panel on global politics in cyberspace in Geneva

18.06.2015

GENEVA, JUNE 18, 2015. PIR PRESS – “Protection of critical infrastructure from cyber threats as the main target for attacks in a conflict is a key task for many states of the world. The scope of international cooperation in this field, suggested by new global threats including from non-governmental actors (e.g. terrorist groups),  is however limited due to uneven technical capacities and different understanding of ‘criticality’, as well as the current geopolitical situation,” – Alexandra Kulikova, PIR Center Program Coordinator “Global Internet Governance and International Information Security”, pointed out at the PIR Center, UNIDIR and GCSP joint seminar in Geneva. 

On June 16, PIR Center, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP) held an expert panel “Looking to the Future: Expert Perspectives on Global Cyber Policy” in Maison de la Paix (GCSP) in Geneva. It was the first meeting in a series of events organized by PIR Center on June 15-18 in Geneva in association with its partner organizations, Centre russe d'études politiques and Trialogue Club International. 

Also the report “Global Internet governance and International Security in the Field of the ICT Use” was presented on the sidelines of the seminar. The report was written by Oleg Ddemidov, PIR Center Consultant, with participation of the working group on Internet governance and international information security at the PIR Center expert council.

In light of the current discussion on norms of responsible state conduct and possibility to adopt new legally binding agreements focused on cyber, this meeting gave an opportunity for experts from PIR Center, the UNIDIR and the GCSP to share opinions on such important issues as applicability of international law to cyberspace, security of critical infrastructure and future global challenges in this field.  

Ben Baseley-Walker, “Emerging Security Threats” Programme Lead at UNIDIR, highlighted the main difficulties to apply international law to cyberspace in light of a growing importance to ensure peace and security in the world. He critically assessed the prospects to conclude a new international treaty on the inadmissibility of aggression in cyberspace and pointed out the limitations of various existing platforms to discuss this issue. At the same time Mr. Baseley-Walker emphasized the necessity to secure “cyberstability”, whereas the term “’cybersecurity’ means too many things to too many partiers”. 

Alexandra Kulikova, PIR Center Program Coordinator “Global Internet Governance and International Information Security”, gave an overview of international efforts to ensure cybersecurity of critical infrastructure (CI). Having highlighted the importance of increased measures to ensure CI protection at the national level as the starting point, she pointed out that “the scope of international cooperation in this field, suggested by new global threats including from non-governmental actors (e.g. terrorist groups),  is however limited due to uneven technical capacities and different understanding of ‘criticality’, as well as the current geopolitical situation”. Furthermore, in the discussion of applicability of international law to cyberconflicts she specifically emphasized the challenges in the assessment of acts affecting CI as an act of aggression in the light of possible conflict escalation and the “cascade effect” from an attack against a sector of CI.

Aapo Cederberg, Senior Programme Advisor, Emerging Security Challenges Programme, Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), provided an overview of a complex approach to the issues of cybersecurity given important aspects of political, economic and social context both at national and international level. 

Panelists exchanges comments and opinions on the issues covered in the presentations and then answered the questions from the audience, which embraced representatives of the Geneva-based and Russian expert and diplomatic community.

In the afternoon experts from PIR Center held a launch meeting of the research project in the framework of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council work stream “Cybersecurity of Civil Nuclear Facilities: Assessing the Threat, Finding Legal and Policy Solutions”, with the participation of the Council members and specialists in the field of international law and critical infrastructure protection.

For any questions concerning PIR Center program “International Information Security and Global Internet Governance,” please contact Program Coordinator Alexandra Kulikova by phone: +7 (495) 987-19-15 or by e-mail: kulikova at pircenter.org.       

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