A Breakthrough for U.N. Governance of Cyberspace
This past weekend, a United Nations group adopted a breakthrough consensus report on standards for responsible state behavior when it comes to cyberspace. Although the report itself contains no groundbreaking norms, the consensus represents a universal recognization for a need to establish cyberspace rules. This idea has been faced with division and contention between the 193 member countries of the UN over the past five years. The process originated from a controversial Russian proposal.
The Russian proposal is a result of Russia pushing the UN to govern technology and cyberspace for decades, as Russia has been the leading vocal proponent for an internationally binding cyber treaty. Although this may sound optimal at a surface level, there is no guarantee that the current cyber circumstances will not persist. Russia, among others, has been abusing cyberspace to wreak havoc on other states without consequence, notably during the SolarWinds hack against the US. Although not every state agrees on how international law applies to cyberspace, last weekend’s consensus notes a step in the right direction.