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Global Conference on Cyberspace focuses on international norms

Yesterday and today the Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS) is taking place at The Hague.  GCCS 2015 is the fourth iteration of the forum which, since inception, has taken a “multi-stakeholder” approach to internet issues. The principal objectives of the Conference are threefold:

  1. Support practical cooperation in cyberspace
  2. Promote capacity building and knowledge exchange in cyberspace
  3. Discuss norms for responsible behavior in cyberspace

Among its outputs, this year’s conference has yielded a Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE), whose launch was supported by over 40 governments, intergovernmental organizations and companies. The idea behind the GFCE is:

…to give political momentum to global cyber capacity building, make available technical expertise as well as new funding to strengthen cyber security, help fight cybercrime, better protect our data and support e-governance.

Moving forward, The Hague will serve as the seat for the GFCE, providing administrative support for the initiative; while participation in the substantive dimensions of the Forum is hoped to be wide-ranging, encompassing “[c]ivil society, the technical community, think tanks and academia…, contributing to the development of best practices, sharing of knowledge and advising on capacity building efforts.”

In connection with the third key objective of this year’s Conference, namely the discussion of norms for cyberspace, the Dutch Foreign Minister and the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy co-published an op-ed today entitled “Cyber space needs stronger rule of law.” Citing nascent developments in this regard, including “a first set of confidence building measures in cyber security” adopted by the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe, the op-ed goes on to suggest that “it would be wise to designate specific elements of the cyber domain to be off limits for cyber-attacks…” .

Even those who agree that norms are needed in this domain (such as the Commander of U.S. Cyber Command, Admiral Michael Rogers) may disagree on the details. For a thoughtful take on what an international framework could look like, see Microsoft’s December 2014 paper, Reducing conflict in an Internet-dependent world.