Striving for a Safe and Secure Internet: Recent recommendations to protect the digital environment

The development of information and communications technologies (ICT) facilitated all three pillars of the United Nations’ work – peace and security, human rights, and sustainable development. The internet facilitated developmental progress by expanding opportunities for cooperation, even despite the global pandemic. 

However, the rapid growth of digital technologies around the world is creating new possibilities for conflict. The Security Council held its first-ever open debate on maintaining cybersecurity on Jun 29. Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, noted the rising number of malicious digital activities in recent years.

Existing and Emerging Threats

A number of states are developing ICT capacities for military purposes. Adoption of such offensive postures for the hostile use of technologies undermines trust, and might eventually result in unintended armed response and escalation. 

On a civilian level, infrastructures nowadays rely heavily on ICT to provide essential services to the public, such as medical facilities, financial services, energy, water, transportation, and sanitation. Malicious ICT activities against critical infrastructure and critical information infrastructures hamper the livelihoods and well-being of individuals. The lack of cybersecurity also hampers trust in public institutions.

No state, no individual is sheltered from these digital threats. Different sectors shall pool resources together and find a prompt solution to prevent online confrontations and attacks.

Effective Practices

The Open-ended working group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security (OEWG) and the Group of Governmental Experts on Advancing responsible State behavior in cyberspace in the context of international security (GGE) published reports to affirm that international law and the Charter of the United Nations are applicable to maintaining peace and stability by promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT environment. 

Concrete measures include confidence-building which enhances transparency to avoid misperception and misunderstandings and to reduce possible tensions. Regions, cross-regional and inter-organizational exchange of information are complementary to the work of the UN in promoting confidence-building measures. Another area was capacity-building, which improves the national ability to prevent or mitigate the impact of malicious ICT activities. As such, the UN assists member states to develop the skills, human resources, policies, and institutions to increase their resilience and security. Lastly, regular institutional dialogues are to be held to raise awareness and build trust. Regulatory efforts must be built on a multilateral platform to ensure uniform results. 

Current obstacles

Despite the need for international coordination against cyber threats, 75% of Africa’s population has insufficient or even no access to the internet at all. The international framework needs to be equitable and address the threats in underprivileged societies. The UN must leave no one behind and offer technical assistance to small developing countries. 

Cyber security is only possible when all stakeholders act collectively. Let us work together for safe and secure internet.

Written by: WIT-UN Intern Tracy Cheng


Creating and rolling out an effective cyber security strategy

Forum on Youth 2014: Reports From Global and Regional Youth Forum

97401248-ab48-4d56-a715-7addf9106359Today the Forum on Youth 2014 began in the Trusteeship Council Chamber. This afternoon’s meeting focused on reports from previous global and regional youth forums.

The meeting began with H.E. Mr. Dullas Alahapperuma presenting information from the World Youth Conference 2014, which was hosted in Sri Lanka. A total of 1,500 participants attended, most were youth delegates and civil society members. At this conference the Colombo Declaration on Youth was comprised, and the main focus of the conference was youth unemployment. The delegates suggested possible solutions to this including job creation, entrepreneurship incentives, more liberal access to education, and training and skills development. The conference also focused on ICT skills development, healthcare for youth, and gender equality.

Next, Mr. Doug Court spoke about the Global Summit on Youth and ICT, which took place last September in Costa Rica. This forum focused on entrepreneurship, governance, unemployment, and the environment; the factors most impacted by technology for youth. There was also discussion on how technology brings down barriers between citizens/youth and policy makers.

Mr. Gabriel Laurence-Brook then gave a statement about the International Organisation de La Francophonie (IOF), an organization committed to increasing youth action and supporting French-speaking youth. At the last IOF conference the delegates talked about youth involvement in creating the SDGs, and there was some debate over whether the youth agenda should be addressed in a cross cutting manner in all SDGs vs. having a specific SDG on youth. The forum also discussed strengthening youth decision-making bodies, access to decent and lasting jobs for youth, and programs to foster youth entrepreneurship. The next Conference will be held in Dakar, Senegal on November 29 2015, under the theme of “women and youth in the French speaking world as drivers for peace and development”.

Lastly, Mr. Alejo Ramirez spoke on behalf of the Ibero-American Youth Organization, which represents youth from Latin America, Spain, and Portugal. So far, this organization has found that young people have not played an important enough role in the creation of the SDGs, and their role must be made larger. He also called upon the SDGs to lift people from poverty, as well as focus on employment and healthcare for young people.

Meeting Title: Forum on Youth 2014: Reports From Global and Regional Youth Forum
Speakers: H.E. Mr. Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister for Youth Affairs and Skills Development, Sri Lanka; Mr. Doug Court, Deputy Coordinator, ITY BYND 2015 Youth Summit; Mr. Gabriel Laurence-Brook, Spokesperson of the Francophone Youth Parliament; Mr. Alejo Ramirez, Secretary-General, Ibero-American Youth Organization
Location: United Nations HQ, New York 
2 June 2014 
Written By WIT representative: Marli Kasdan
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark