Q2/2019 - UN Cybersecurity Groups (OEWG & UN GGE)

New York, 3 - 4 June 2019

At an organisational meeting of the new "UN Open Ended Working Group on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunication in the Context of International Security" (OEWG), the roadmap for the negotiations of the OEWG and the new UN Group of Governmental Experts (UN GGE) was adopted. The two groups were founded in December 2018 by the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly and assigned the mandate to develop norms for state behaviour and new confidence-building measures in cyberspace.

The UN GGE already has its own history. The 2010, 2013 and 2015 UN GGE reports already outlined key elements of an emerging global cyber security architecture, including the consensus of the international community that with the UN Charter international law is relevant both online and offline. The UN GGE has also agreed on a set of norms for state behaviour in cyberspace and some confidence-building measures. However, the last UN GGE in 2017 failed due to a lack of governments' willingness to further specify how international law was to be applied when assessing a cyber attack. The particular critical question in this context was in how far a cyber attack was to be considered use of force under Article 2.4 of the UN Charter and would therefore trigger the right to self-defence laid down in Article 51 of the UN Charter. Attribution was another controversial issue.

The UN Resolution 73/27 on the establishment of the OEWG is based on a Russian proposal, the UN Resolution 73/266 on a new UN GGE on a US proposal. Both bodies have a very similar mandate, but it is unclear how the two groups will cooperate with each other.

  • The OEWG is open to all 193 UN member states and must submit its report by the 75th session of the UN General Assembly in autumn 2020. The first substantive meeting of the OEWG is scheduled for 9 - 13 September 2019 in New York. In accordance with UN Resolution 73/27, the OEWG is obliged to conduct consultative meetings with non-state actors. Non-governmental organisations wishing to participate in these consultations must first obtain accreditation from the UN and undergo an assessment procedure. A further round of consultations between governments, industry and civil society is planned for 2-4 December 2019 in New York. Two more meetings shall take place in February and July 2020.[1]  
  • In contrast to the OEWG, the UN GGE has only 25 members and must submit its report only in autumn 2021 to the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. The UN GGE is not obliged to consult with non-state actors. However, the UN GGE is required to hold consultative meetings with regional intergovernmental organisations. Such meetings are now planned with the EU, the OSCE, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Asian ASEAN, the African Union (AU) and the Arab League. The work of the UN GGE will start at the beginning of December 2019 in New York. Two further meetings are planned in Geneva in 2020 (March and August). A final meeting is scheduled for May 2021 in New York. Germany is a member of the 25-member UN GGE and is represented by Wolfram von Heynitz from the Federal Foreign Office.[2]
Mehr zum Thema
  1. [1] Open-ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security; see http://reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/others/ict/oewg
  2. [2] Group of Governmental Experts on advancing responsible state behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security, see: http://reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/others/ict/gge