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Informal and virtual consultations of the OEWG on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security

Statement delivered by the Delegation of Argentina to the informal and virtual consultations of the OEWG on Cybersecurity
17 June 2020
United Nations New York

Thank you Chair
Good morning to all

From Buenos Aires I am accompanied by our National Director of Cybersecurity, Mr Gustavo Sain.

On the onset, let me congratulate you Chair for all the initiatives and steps taken so far in order to keep this group active and productive under these especially severe and unforeseen circumstances. 

As for this second version of the pre draft report, we see improvements in several aspects and more clarity in terms of its structure. We also note that observations and comments that were broadly supported by States have been incorporated, which is particularly important bearing in mind the central role of consensus in the work of this Group. We continue to consider the draft a basis for our discussions.

With regards to the process, the effects of the pandemia have inevitably impacted on the Group schedule and curtailed the actual possibilities for States to participate as they would have done so in normal circumstances, therefore, the decision on postponing the third substantive session as proposed by the Chair is a very sensible and practical one. If overall conditions do not change, the same criteria should be used when analysing the possible timeline and mode for the rest of the mandate of the OEWG.

Argentina has already expressed that it considers extremely important the existence of inclusive spaces such as this Open Ended Working Group in which countries from all regions and diversity of visions can engage actively in discussions with the aim of building consensus regarding the rules, norms and principles of responsible state behavior and the way international law applies in cyberspace. We have also referred to the fact that the relevance and complexity of the topic would be better served if this inclusive space could have continuity.

Mr. Chair:

Argentina promotes the peaceful uses of cyberspace and supports all initiatives aimed at the establishment of values such as Justice, respect for International Law, equilibrium, and the narrowing of the digital gap among States, while encouraging dialogue and cooperation. Respect for Human Rights and individual freedoms  are fundamental principles for the protection of individuals in cybersecurity, as well, mainstreaming gender perspective in the field of Cybersecurity is a very important and needed effort.

It is evident that the accelerated digitalisation brought about by the pandemia has increased the surface of attack for malicious uses of ICTs and underscored the need to strengthen the protection of critical infrastructure, in particular the health sector. By the same token, our increased dependency on ICT for the continuity of essential and daily activities, at a worldwide scale, also stresses the vital role of securing transnational critical infrastructure, and the support to bridge the digital divide.

Furthermore, in cyberspace, there are a series of dangerous threats originating from different sources and intentions. There are common illegal acts and complex and organised crimes mediated by digital information technologies, understood as computer crimes or cybercrimes. In this sense, international cooperation in judicial investigation is important for obtaining digital evidence and criminal prosecution of those responsible for them. Likewise, there may also be acts against certain critical information infrastructures, intelligent computer systems that regulate the operation of essential services in a country, that could be misinterpreted as a threat or use of force, an issue that presents controversies as how international law applies, taking into consideration among other factors,  the origin of the cyberattack, the damage caused and its intent.

In this sense  we reiterate that Argentina considers international law is applicable to the field of cyberspace, fundamentally the Charter of the United Nations, pointing out the caveat that there needs to be further discussion and common understanding  as to how international law applies to the use of ICTs in a virtual environment, mainly due to the possibilities of anonymity and the construction of fictitious identities that the network currently offers.

Difficulties in determining the provenance of an attack within cyberspace and the intention of actors to affect another poses serious and potential risks, reaching  possible responses that the attacked State could invoke its right to legitimate defence established in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.  In this matter,  we consider highly important that further discussions be held regarding the determination of the source of ICT incidents at the technical level, by an international, plural, transparent and objective common approach, wether existing or to be created.

Although danger and threats exist online, we share the concerns about the militarisation of cyberspace and its negative impact in peace and international security. We also highlight the concern over the indirect consequences of this growing pattern when analysing the possible remedies and policies that might be implemented to safeguard against these threats, that are not balanced and do not take into account the adequate protection of human right and basic liberties, in particular the privacy of citizens.

In terms of prevention, we understand that States are responsible for their national security,. In that regard, we consider the participation of academia and civil society to be extremely important, but the collaboration with the private sector to be fundamentally important, in particular, internet service and application provider companies, in terms of generating safe virtual environments for citizens.

As an important confident building measures to preventing conflicts, we consider the exchange of experiences and good practices in the protection of critical infrastructures and critical information infrastructures to be paramount, as they are considered essential services for the proper functioning of relevant sectors of a country.

Lastly as a co-sponsor, we call on States to join the Joint proposal for establishment of a National Survey of Implementation of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 70/237, we believe that among other aspects, it will facilitate timely capacity building programs.

Thank you

Fondo argentino de cooperación sur-sur y triangular