Delivered by Tomslin Samme-Nlar – Researcher
08 December 2020
Thank you chair for giving me the opportunity to intervene in this important discussion on cyber capacity building.
I would like to make two points with regards to moving forward with a balanced Cyber Capacity Building agenda.
1. We agree that cyber capacity-building will indeed address some systemic, transnational risks and vulnerabilities associated with the digital transition, including improving international cooperation and diplomacy in cyberspace.
Like it’s been noted by the chair and speakers, it is true that since the 2013 UNGGE report, the focus of capacity building initiatives has been primarily on the technical aspects of cyberspace and rarely on the international cooperation aspects like policy and diplomacy.
And while it is important to also develop capacity in policy and cyber diplomacy for states, we must not forget that many states in the global south still do not have the basic capacity in cyberspace, which is protecting the cyber infrastructure their economies are increasingly depending on.
Therefore, we propose states give equal priority to both the technical aspects and the policy and diplomacy aspects of capacity building.
2. We also want to caution against the kind of capacity building that encourages states in the global south to ratify cybersecurity conventions developed by other regions, without taking into account certain nuances and contexts of the states requiring capacity building.
We believe cybersecurity conventions developed by other regions like the Budapest convention cybercrime for example, usually make certain assumptions that are not necessarily true in some regions in the global south.
While the Budapest convention for example is mindful of the need to ensure a proper balance between the interests of law enforcement and respect for fundamental human rights, it assumes that states who are parties to the convention are either parties to the European convention on Human Rights or a similar convention which offers very strong protection on human rights like the right to freedom of expression and respect for privacy but that’s not always the case in some regions. As a result, legislation based on such conventions might not have strong and effective human right safeguards and with privacy intrusive measures and violation of freedom of speech.
Better understanding of recipient countries’ nuances, contexts, priorities and challenges should be undertaken through empirical research for a balanced Cyber Capacity Building agenda.