Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security

Few technologies have been as powerful as information and communications technologies (ICTs) in reshaping economies, societies and international relations. Cyberspace touches every aspect of our lives. The benefits are enormous, but they do not come without risk. The global ICT environment is facing a dramatic increase in the malicious use of ICTs by State and non-State actors. The misuse of ICTs poses a risk for all States and may harm international peace and security.

International ICT-security at the United Nations

The issue of information security has been on the UN agenda since 1998, when the Russian Federation introduced a draft resolution on the subject in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly. It was then adopted without a vote by the General Assembly as resolution 53/70. Since then, several intergovernmental processes have been established to address the security of and use of ICTs in the context of international security.

Beginning in 2004, six Groups of Governmental Experts (GGE) have studied the threats posed by the use of ICTs in the context of international security and how these threats should be addressed.

Four of these Groups have agreed on substantive reports with conclusions and recommendations that have been welcomed by all UN Member States. Each GGE built on the work done by the previous one, making significant cumulative progress on the issues at hand.

The sixth and last GGE, which met between 2019 and 2021, agreed its report by consensus, which provided an additional layer of understanding on the normative framework for responsible behaviour of States in cyberspace in the context of international security. The webpage including documents from this GGE is available here.

Below is a list of the substantive reports agreed by past GGEs.

In December 2018, through resolution 73/27 , the General Assembly established an Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) , which is open to all Member States. The Group began its work in 2019 and held intersessional consultative meetings with industry, civil society and academia. The Group adopted a report by consensus at its final session in March 2021 ( A/75/816 ). The final report and the recommendations contained therein were endorsed in General Assembly decision 75/564.

In 2020, the General Assembly through resolution 75/240 , established a new five-year OEWG on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies. This OEWG will meet regularly through 2025. The dedicated webpage for this OEWG is available here .

The work of the GGEs and OEWGs have focused on the following overarching topics:

  • Existing and emerging threats
  • How international law applies in the use of ICTs
  • Norms, rules and principles of responsible behavior of States
  • Confidence-building measures
  • Capacity building

In 2022, a General Assembly resolution entitled “Programme of action to advance responsible State behaviour in the use of information and communications technologies in the context of international security” was adopted for the first time as A/RES/77/37. The resolution requested a report of the Secretary-General on the proposal, taking into account the views submitted by States (A/78/76).

General Assembly Resolutions

  • 2022 – A/77/36, A/77/37, A/77/512 (Decision)
  • 2021 – A/RES/76/19
  • 2020 – A/RES/75/240
  • 2019 – A/RES/74/28; A/RES/74/29
  • 2018 – A/RES/73/266; A/RES/73/27
  • 2017 – A/C.1/72/L.44
  • 2016 – A/RES/71/28
  • 2015 – A/RES/70/237
  • 2014 – A/RES/69/28
  • 2013 – A/RES/68/243
  • 2012 – A/RES/67/27
  • 2011 – A/RES/66/24
  • 2010 – A/RES/65/41
  • 2009 – A/RES/64/25
  • 2008 – A/RES/63/37
  • 2007 – A/RES/62/17
  • 2006 – A/RES/61/54
  • 2005 – A/RES/60/45
  • 2004 – A/RES/59/61
  • 2003 – A/RES/58/32
  • 2002 – A/RES/57/53
  • 2001 – A/RES/56/19
  • 2000 – A/RES/55/28
  • 1999 – A/RES/54/49
  • 1998 – A/RES/53/70

Annual Reports of the Secretary-General

Since 1998, there have been annual reports by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly with the views of UN Member States on the issue of ICTs in the context of international security.