Britain’s representative to a United Nations cyber-security group has spoken out about the need for more money to be directed into cyber defence capacity.
The representative also called for greater respect to be paid to international law processes within digital transformation, in an address to the UN Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) held to develop information and telecommunications on the international security landscape.
The UK’s representative to the OEWG, Alexander Evans is also cyber director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and a career diplomat, international relations, policy and security expert.
Mr Evans described how the paths individual countries chose regarding the development, application and regulation of digital technology have an impact upon the international community.
With this in mind, Mr Evans underlined how the 193-member UN now has the chance to steer the cyber-security world’s development by leaning on organisations to pivot towards a core mission that prioritises peace, security and respect for human rights.
“A number of states and others have commented that there is a real challenge in terms of capacity to address cyber security and implement cyber norms. We agree. This is a high-priority problem and needs addressing,” Mr Evans said.
“Bilaterally, the UK is doing its part. We are one of the most active cyber donors in the world, investing over £36m in international cyber work with partners in more than 100 countries across six continents since 2012.
“We believe that funding international capacity building on cyber is an urgent priority that deserves our collective attention and financial commitment from donors and will look to promote this particular theme in OEWG discussions,” Mr Evans added, highlighting how no single governmental regime could eliminate security threats on its own; cooperation is therefore key.
Mr Evans continued to acknowledge the UN General Assembly’s “valuable progress” on cyber-security.
“In tandem with confidence building measures (CBMs), these build trust, transparency and security,” said Evans. “It is human nature to pay more attention to when international law or norms are being breached than when they are being observed. If international law and norms are mostly observed, those who breach them stand out.
“We should also be clear that we believe all states have the legitimate right to develop sovereign cyber capabilities and recognise we have an obligation to ensure they are used in line with existing international law,” Mr Evans said.
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