NUPI Report

Parabasis: Cyber-diplomacy in Stalemate

Published: 23 Oct 2018

Governments and industry around the world are working together to bring the next billion users online,1 but their synergies fade when it comes to how to keep online populations safe and secure. Further, the third and fourth billion of Internet users will enter a terrain very different from that available to their predecessors. Vulnerabilities in ICTs as well as de facto exploitation of these vulnerabilities by state and non-state actors has been acknowledged and problematized. Evidence of malicious and hostile operations involving ICTs and the Internet abounds. Uncertain about the true potential of ICTs, governments and users have focused on rules and responsibilities for protecting against cyberattacks, espionage and data manipulation. But where is there an understanding of how to remedy and improve the situation?

The first part of this report analyzes and contextualizes the UN First Committee process. The second part offers the authors’ extensions to the theme, analyzing the relative successes and failures of the leading cyberpowers in promoting the world order of their liking. In particular, we analyze how Russia, as the initiator of the First Committee process, has created momentum and gathered support for its calls for specific international regulation and institutionalization of the process on the one hand, and stronger governmental control of the development and use of ICTs and the flow of information on the other. In conclusion, we offer some recommendations for governments wishing to pursue the goal of free and open cyberspace—indeed a rule-based world order.

The full text can be read here: