UN Security Council reaffirms importance of cyberstability

Participants at Friday's Arria-formula virtual meeting of the UN Security Council hosted by Estonia. May 22, 2020
Participants at Friday's Arria-formula virtual meeting of the UN Security Council hosted by Estonia. May 22, 2020 Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Participants at an Arria-formula meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Friday focusing on cyberstability, conflict prevention and capacity-building stressed that international law applies in cyberspace and that the norms of responsible state behavior hold for all UN member states.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) both stressed that the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of a secure cyberspace, according to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release.

"This crisis has also demonstrated how crucial it is to have a safe and reliable digital infrastructure, and how we must collectively work toward a more stable and secure cyberspace," Reinsalu said in his opening remarks.

Ratas highlighted the fact that the global COVID-19 crisis has put extra pressure on our critical services in terms of cybersecurity, and thus now is the right time for substantive discussions on cyberstability. Many countries concurred in their own statements as well.

Reinsalu also announced that Estonia plans to convene an international meeting soon to address the importance of digitalization in responding to the coronavirus crisis and assisting recovery efforts.

According to Estonia's Ambassador at Large for Cybersecurity Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar, one of the primary objectives of the events was to clearly enshrine previous UN agreements on cyberstability.

"With this meeting, Estonia showed itself as a driving force when it comes to discussing emerging threats at the UN Security Council," Tiirmaa-Klaar said. "On an international level, it is important that the conviction shared by Estonia and many countries was heard loud and clear: cyberspace is not different from other domains where international law guides state behavior."

James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, one of the experts to brief the UNSC and other UN members, called the event "a major contribution by Estonia and its co-hosts to put this topic in front of the Security Council."

According to Lewis, cyber norms and international law remain the best and most reliable way to build security in cyberspace.

More than 60 countries worldwide participated in the event, which was co-organized by UNSC members Belgium, Dominican Republic and Indonesia as well as Kenya and held on the Estonian-developed virtual event platform Hybridity.

The event, which was moderated by Reinsalu from Tallinn and Estonia's Permanent Representative to the UN Sven Jürgenson from New York, can be rewatched on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' YouTube channel here.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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