UNODA, France and Egypt reflect on consultations on the Programme of Action to Advance Responsible Behavior in the use of Information and Communications Technologies

October 31st, 2023

On 19 October, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, together with the Permanent Missions of Egypt and France, held a side event of the General Assembly’s First Committee to discuss a series of regional and subregional consultations convened in 2023 on a prospective Programme of Action (PoA) to Advance Responsible State Behavior in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in the context of International Security. With the participation of Member States, representatives of regional and subregional organizations, and non-governmental entities, the discussion focused on highlights from these consultations.

   Beyza Unal, UNODA’s Head of Science, Technology and International Security, delivering introductory remarks.

In December 2022, the General Assembly adopted resolution 77/37, welcoming the proposal to establish a PoA as a permanent, inclusive, action-oriented mechanism to discuss existing and potential threats ICT-related threats to international security. The resolution further requested the Office for Disarmament Affairs to engage with relevant regional organizations to convene a series of consultations on this proposal.

From May to September 2023, consultations were held in cooperation with the Africa Group, the Organization of American States (OAS), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union (EU), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Pacific Islands Forum, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the League of Arab States (LAS).

The side event featured representatives of the OAS, OSCE, EU and LAS who presented key elements from the respective consultations, including on the scope, structure, and content of the proposed PoA, as well as preparatory work and modalities of its potential establishment. Other elements raised by the representatives included the relationship between the PoA initiative and the ongoing Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on ICT Security, as well as the role of non-governmental stakeholders in a future PoA. Additionally, participants discussed potential content of a PoA, including capacity-building efforts, information sharing, incident-response simulations, the application of international law and the further elaboration of agreed-upon norms of responsible behaviors and confidence-building measures (CBMs).

Hosted ahead of the sixth substantive session of the OEWG, to be held in December 2023, the side event provided a further platform for States and non-governmental entities to consider the PoA proposal under the question of regular institutional dialogue.