UNIDIR Cyber Stability Conference 3rd December Friday 2021

2021 Cyber Stability Conference: Towards A More Secure Cyberspace

Over the past two decades, Member States’ discussions have focused on the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) and their impact on international security. A breakthrough happened in 2021 with the successful conclusion of two multilateral cyber processes and the beginning of a new Open-Ended Working Group, the first ever with a 5-year mandate.  

At UNIDIR’s annual flagship conference on cyber stability, we convened representatives from government, industry and civil society, reflecting on the past, paving the way for the future and asking the key questions: How can we build on past successes to advance the agenda for an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT environment? What has been discussed and agreed so far? And what should be prioritised next?

9:15-9:45: Welcome and conference opening remarks by

9:50-10:55: Panel 1 – Existing and potential threats

During the 2019-2020 OEWG, States expressed their growing concerns about recent developments in ICT (including for military purposes), which could be used to undermine international peace and security. After a short summary of the main issues discussed at the previous OEWG in relation to existing and potential threats, the panel will focus on the following issues:

Guiding questions:

– Should the threats already identified be further defined? If yes, how? If not, why not?

– Are there important threats that have been missed?

– The rapid technological development and convergence dynamics may unlock new behaviours, methods and threats (e.g. AI-enabled cyber capabilities). How important will it be for a 5-year process to monitor and account for the rapid evolution of the technological landscape?

– To what extent should the OEWG also cover evolving threats from non-state actors?



10:55-11:15: Coffee break


11:15-12:30: Panel 2 – Rules, norms and principles for responsible state behaviour

By increasing predictability and reducing the risk of misunderstandings, voluntary and non-binding norms of responsible State behaviour can reduce risks to international peace, security and stability. The upcoming OEWG has been mandated “to continue, as a priority, to further develop the rules, norms and principles of responsible behaviour of States and the ways for their implementation and, if necessary, to introduce changes to them or elaborate additional rules of behaviour”. Following a concise summary of the discussion so far, this panel will look turn to key issues such as:

Guiding questions:

-Which norms are in need of further development? And how would this development relate to the additional guidance compiled by the Group of Governmental Experts in its 2021 report?

– Are there gaps in the current normative framework that the OEWG should address by elaborating additional (new) rules of behaviour?

– What are the risks and benefits involved in introducing changes to the existing norms? Is the evolutionary approach implied by changing these norms a necessity? Or will it come into conflict with the norms that States have already agreed on and that should underpin the OEWG’s work?

How can industry and other non-state actors support the OEWG in the norm development process?



12:30-13:30: Lunch


13:30-14:40: Panel 3 – International law

International law – and in particular the Charter of the United Nations – is applicable and essential not only to maintaining peace and stability but also to promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT environment. The OEWG 2021-2025 will continue to discuss how international law applies in this context, whether there are any gaps in the existing legal framework, and how they should be addressed. After a short summary of the previous discussion on international law, the panel will focus on the following issues:

Guiding questions:

– How can we leverage the OEWG mandate to answer outstanding questions related to how international law applies?

– How should the OEWG go about identifying gaps in the international law applicable to the ICT environment?

– Is there a role for non-State actors in this endeavour?

– Is there a role for the International Law Commission?



14:40-14:50: Technical break


14:50-15:55: Panel 4 – Confidence-building Measures

In the 2019-2020 OEWG Final Report, States recognised that confidence-building measures (CBMs) can contribute to preventing conflicts, avoiding misunderstandings and reducing tensions. CBMs include measures relating to transparency as well as cooperation and stability. States acknowledged that practical CBMs had been recommended in previous GGE reports, underlining at the same time that CBMs remain voluntary and that regional and sub-regional organisations are vital to their development. Following a brief summary of past discussions on CBMs, the panel will focus on key issues:

Guiding questions:

– How can the OEWG support States that are not part of a regional organisation or are part of a regional organisation that has yet to develop their own set of CBMs?

– How can the OEWG support States engaging in transparency measures, as with the sharing of relevant information and lessons learned?

– How can the OEWG leverage initiatives led by non-state actors –civil society, the private sector, and the technical community – that could contribute to shared goals of transparency, information sharing and cooperation?



15:55-16:10: Coffee break


16:10-17:10: Panel 5 – Capacity building

Capacity-building is a reciprocal endeavour in which participants learn from each other and where all sides benefit from the general improvement of global ICT security. Among the different cooperation models that exist, the international development community has embraced triangular cooperation: a partnership arrangement among the countries of the Global South with the support of the North and/or international development organisations. After briefly reviewing past discussions on capacity building, this panel will further explore how different cooperation models can continue to be developed in the cyber context:

Guiding questions:

– How can the OEWG support South–South, South–North, triangular, and regionally focused cooperation in cyber capacity-building?

– Are there any existing examples of “South-South” or “triangular” cooperation towards cyber capacity-building?

– What is missing from the discussion on models for cooperation towards cyber capacity-building?



17:10-17:55: Closing discussion – Looking back to move forward


17:55-18:00: Conference closing



3 December 2021 09:00-18:00 CET | Hybrid format (Room XXVI, Palais des Nations, Geneva and online).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: