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Binary Code- Russia and the United States submitted to the UN a joint resolution on cybersecurity

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Russia and the United States have submitted to the UN General Assembly a joint resolution on the responsible behavior of states in cyberspace. The document looks unexpected given the long rivalry between the two powers that have promoted competing cybersecurity negotiation mechanisms at the UN. Moscow and Washington expect that joining efforts will make the process of introducing voluntary rules of responsible behavior of states in the network more efficient. At the same time, it follows from the resolution that in the future we can talk about mandatory norms.

The Russian-American resolution has a long title: "Achievements in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security and the encouragement of responsible behavior of states in the use of information and communication technologies." Voting on this document in the First Committee of the General Assembly is scheduled for November, after which, in December, it will be submitted to a general vote.

The development of a joint draft document by Russia and the United States can be considered an important event, if only because in recent years the two countries have often acted in the UN as rivals or even adversaries. And the subject of cybersecurity, until recently, was no exception in this regard.

The development of responsible rules for the conduct of states in the information space at the UN site took place within the framework of two mechanisms - the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE, which includes 25 countries) recreated by the Americans and the Open-ended Working Group launched at the initiative of Russia (OEWG, open to all states). And although Russia and the United States are in both groups, Moscow promoted the OEWG, while Washington supported the GGE.

A year ago, for example, they submitted two competing resolutions to the UN General Assembly, and although both were ultimately adopted (most countries decided not to quarrel with anyone and supported both documents), all this created space for rivalry and behind-the-scenes intrigue, provided negative impact on the effectiveness of both mechanisms.

Positive shifts became noticeable back in the spring, when both the OEWG and the GGE succeeded in adopting consensus reports with the full support of both Moscow and Washington.

But the development of a joint resolution by the two countries can be considered a real diplomatic breakthrough. In many respects, this became possible thanks to the agreements reached in June by the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, on the resumption of cooperation in the field of cybersecurity.

Last week, the delegations of Russia and the United States presented a draft resolution (it has not been published, but is at the disposal of Kommersant) during informal consultations at the UN. At the event, the Russian president's special envoy for international cooperation in the field of information security, director of the international security department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andrei Krutskikh, said that this was a "historic moment." From his speech it followed: the resolution is important not only in terms of content, but also strategically, since its adoption will draw a line under the period of parallel functioning of two cybersecurity platforms in the UN, which the world community has long called for.

His American counterpart, State Department Cyber Coordinator Michelle Markoff thanked the Russian delegation for their cooperation. In her speech, she recalled that the existence of two negotiating mechanisms on cybersecurity - the OEWG and the GGE - caused controversy. But these groups have succeeded in adopting two important reports in recent months, which together form a framework for the rules of responsible behavior for states in cyberspace. The meaning of the new Russian-American resolution, she said, is to call on states to comply with these norms and create conditions for further work in the UN on this topic.

It follows from the document that this work will continue in one format - the OEWG, whose mandate has been extended until 2025. The resolution emphasizes that all states are interested in promoting the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for peaceful purposes, as well as in preventing conflicts arising from the use of ICTs. At the same time, it says that a number of states are engaged in building ICT capacities for military purposes, and the use of ICTs in future conflicts is becoming more and more likely.

Of particular concern to the drafters of the document are possible malicious acts using ICTs against critical infrastructure.

In Russia, 13 sectors are considered "critically important" (based on the federal law adopted in 2017), including the banking sector, defense industry enterprises, transport, healthcare facilities, etc.

The adoption of voluntary and non-binding norms of responsible behavior of states, as stated in the draft resolution, can lead to a decrease in the threat to international peace, security and stability. As Kommersant previously wrote, as part of the UN negotiation process, diplomats have developed a basic cyber code for states ( see Kommersant on March 14). Among other things, they appealed to the governments of all countries to prevent the spread of malware, report vulnerabilities to software developers (instead of using them for hacking) and refuse to use hidden functions ("tabs") in IT products manufactured on their territory. ... States should not use cyber technology to damage the critical infrastructure of other countries. They should regulate the arising disputes "by peaceful means", namely "through negotiations, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, litigation, appeal to regional bodies." Governments should develop confidence building measures in cyberspace (share concept papers, establish national contact points in case of incidents, etc.),

The vulnerability of these norms is their voluntary nature. Russia has repeatedly proposed to make them legally binding, but the United States opposed this.

Washington's logic was based on the fact that it will take several years to develop a legally binding global convention, and when it is adopted, it may already become outdated, since technology is developing very quickly. When drafting a joint resolution, Moscow and Washington were able to find compromise formulations. It says that the rules developed by the GGE and OEWG are standards for the responsible behavior of states in cyberspace, it is emphasized that additional rules can be developed over time, and it is separately noted that, if necessary, binding agreements can be developed.

According to Andrei Krutskikh, such an "unprecedented step" - the introduction of a Russian-American draft resolution - became possible due to the fact that the two countries managed to put the existing political differences outside the brackets and take pragmatic, constructive and responsible positions. He and his American counterpart called on all UN member states to support the joint document, including by joining the list of its co-sponsors. At the time of going to print, there were already more than fifty of them.

Elena Chernenko

Edited by Tomasz
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