Wednesday

22nd May 2019

Opinion

Cyber space needs stronger rule of law

  • 'It would be wise to designate specific elements of the cyber domain to be off limits for cyber-attacks' (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

On 16 and 17 April, the global cyber community will gather in The Hague for the Global Conference on Cyberspace.

The Internet brings people together, generates ideas and helps shape our future. We are convinced that we should protect the Internet and its innovative power, but should also deal with the challenges that cyber confronts us with.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Cyberspace has become the most important strategic asset of modern societies

We can only reap the full benefits of the Internet if we are able to make it a safe place to do business and to protect human rights, including privacy and freedom of expression online, as they are protected off line.

The world community has a lot to gain from a free, open and secure Internet.

We are calling on governments, the business community, civil society, the academic and technical communities, who are present in The Hague, to work together to promote this vision and find a good balance among rights that have all to be protected.

New realities

The development of the Internet has created new realities for all of us.

Governments have come to the table rather late in recognizing the importance of the Internet to their traditional roles and responsibilities, but now see the challenges before them more clearly. It is only by working closely with all Internet stakeholders that we can effectively safeguard the cyberspace for future generations.

The cyber hijacking of TV5 Monde, the attack last year against Sony Pictures, and constant cyber-attacks on financial services worldwide show that cyber operations have become a tool for power manipulation and political coercion for states and non-state actors alike.

These incidents illustrate that we need to clarify how existing international law and the norms of responsible behaviour contribute to trust and confidence in cyberspace.

Is cyberspace then a lawless area? Not quite.

Agreement was reached by a global group of cyber experts under the UN auspices that international law, and notably the UN Charter, applies to cyberspace.

The Organisation for Co-operation and Security in Europe has adopted a first set of confidence building measures in cyber security. Global efforts continue to further develop cyber confidence building activities.

The Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCCS) this week offers a broad multi-stakeholder platform to discuss new ideas in this field. We must strive to ensure that our fundamental values that our open societies rest upon are also upheld in the digital sphere.

Cyber security

In order to address cyber challenges, states should take action against threats emanating from territory under their control. It would be wise to designate specific elements of the cyber domain to be off limits for cyber-attacks, in the same way that hospitals cannot be attacked in times of war.

Examples could be critical infrastructure providing essential civilian services, civilian incident response structures and certain critical components of the global Internet.

States should also refrain from undermining the fundamental security of the vital cyber infrastructures.

Governments can’t act alone. They will have to rely on other partners. We should therefore find ways to broaden the discussion on international rules and norms in cyber space to capture a broader range of interests, including the public and private sector.

The Global Commission on Internet Governance, a broadly composed group that studies the similarly complex issue of Internet Governance, could offer a good model.

If we acknowledge the fact that cyberspace has become the most important strategic asset of modern societies, then we must look beyond narrow short term interests in order to create more lasting stability.

We need to re-invent ourselves and bring all who are affected to the table.

Bert Koenders is the Dutch foreign minister. Federica Mogherini is the head of the EU foreign service

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

EU cyber directive 'nearly finished'

The EU executive will release a draft directive on cyber security in 2013, in the latest indication that the bloc is moving towards a harmonised online rulebook.

Can Tusk go home again?

The opposition may not be able to defeat the rulling PiS without him, but if Donald Tusk wants to go home again, he will first have to remember where he came from.

News in Brief

  1. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  2. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  3. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  4. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll
  5. Austrian government chaos as far-right ministers step down
  6. Farage hit by milkshake during campaign tour
  7. New president dissolves Ukraine's parliament
  8. Sweden Democrat MEP ousted for revealing sex harassment

Press freedom and the EU elections

We are campaigning for the next European Commission to appoint a commissioner with a clear mandate to take on the challenge of the protection of freedom, independence and diversity of journalism.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us