Few technologies have been as powerful as information and communications technologies 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 2004, five Groups of Governmental Experts (GGE) have continued to study the threats posed by the use of ICTs in the context of international security and how these threats should be addressed. Three of these Groups have agreed on substantive reports with conclusions and recommendations that have been welcomed by all UN Member States. Furthermore, each GGE built on the work done by the previous one, making significant cumulative progress on the issues at hand. The GGE reports have been well-received by the General Assembly of the United Nations. In particular, the 2015 report of the GGE was adopted by consensus in resolution 70/237. This resolution “calls upon Member States to be guided in their use of information and communications technologies by the 2015 report of the Group of Governmental Experts.”

The work of the Groups of Governmental Experts

The work of the Groups of Governmental Experts have focused on the following 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

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.
In 2019, Member States have again been invited to submit their national views on the subject through resolutions 73/27 and 73/266. These views will be included in the 2019 annual report of the Secretary-General on Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security.