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Ladies and gentlemen,

I welcome the participants of the 3rd OSCE Interregional Conference on Cyber ​​/ ICT Security. I thank the Korean side and the OSCE Secretariat for their assistance in organizing this useful event.

I am sincerely glad to see so many familiar faces of our global diplomatic cyberfamily again. I would like to separately from the bottom of my heart greet my “bosses” – Mr. Jürg Lauber and Mr. Guilherme Patriotu – chairmen of the first UN Open-ended Working Group and the last Group of UN Governmental Experts on International Information Security (IIB), as well as my comrade in arms who made a significant contribution to their successful conclusion, to Joanna Weaver. And, of course, I cannot fail to convey a gentle and warm greetings from Moscow to my close friend, “the mother of norms,” as she is now called, Michelle Markoff.

Turning to the essence of today’s discussion, I would like to share with you the conclusion that I have come to over more than 20 years of my work in this field: in the field of IIB, Russia is famous for the originality of its initiatives. Let me explain. The attitude towards them, at least among a part of the international community, turns 180 degrees over time. In the early 2000s, we proposed to establish an expert platform – GGE – to discuss the IIB topic in a narrow circle. Not everyone was happy with this idea, but they gradually joined the discussion and even took over the “baton” in 2018.

So it is with the OGOS. Since 2018, the sharp rejection of the Group, expressed in voting against its creation by some states, was replaced by their active and constructive involvement in the negotiation process.

As a result, both initiatives had a happy ending, which, it seems to me, became a landmark moment for the global discussion on the provision of IIB. For the first time in a long time, through joint efforts, we managed to restore an atmosphere of constructiveness and consensus and in fact confirm the international community’s agreement on key issues, when dialogue at the expert level is conducted in a pragmatic, non-politicized and constructive manner.

Since the beginning of 2021, we have already included the adoption of the final reports of the OEWG and the GGE, as well as the launch of the Ad Hoc Committee to develop under the auspices of the UN a universal international convention on combating the use of ICT for criminal purposes, in the “piggy bank” of the successes of global cyber diplomacy. A series of these achievements was continued by the organizational session of the new OEWG on security in the use of ICTs and ICTs themselves 2021-2025 (New York, June 1, 2021).

During the meeting, all states unanimously approved the key modalities of the Group’s activities. The agenda and rules of procedure were adopted, including the method of decision-making. The decision of fundamental importance for starting the process was the election of the Permanent Representative of Singapore to the UN in New York, Mr. Burkhan Gafur, to the post of Chairman of the OEWG. We welcome this choice in favor of objective, impartial and pragmatic leadership of the Group. The chairman has already demonstrated these qualities during the organizing session. We wish him success throughout the entire process and, in particular, in coordinating the remaining organizational issues in the framework of broad consultations with the UN Member States prior to the first substantive session of the Group (New York, December 13-17, 2021).

The OEWG format has proven in practice its effectiveness and relevance, allowing many countries, primarily representatives of the developing world, to take a direct part in discussions on IIB for the first time. We consider it extremely important to make every effort to maintain a positive atmosphere of multilateral dialogue on this topic under the auspices of the UN in the format of the OEWG that is optimal for this.

I would like to briefly share again our vision of its conceptual and organizational design. As you know, the Russian approaches were outlined in more detail during the organizing session of the Group and reflected in the position paper previously circulated by the UN Secretariat.

In our opinion, the OEWG should be based on the principles of inclusiveness, openness, transparency and democracy. The group should become a platform not just for discussions, but for pragmatic and constructive negotiations aimed at achieving tangible, practical results. In other words, the structure and activities of the Group must comply with the formula “result-oriented, not report-oriented”.

Given that the mechanism will operate for five years, it must have sufficient flexibility and the ability to evolve in response to changing needs of the international community. To streamline the process, agreements can be formalized as they are achieved, rather than at the end of the Group’s mandate.

The starting point for the launch of the OEWG is the UN General Assembly Resolution 75/240 and the mandate clearly stated in it, which provides as a priority for the continuation of the further development of rules, norms and principles of responsible behavior of states in the information space and ways of their implementation, if necessary, making changes to them or formulating additional rules of conduct; consideration of state initiatives aimed at ensuring security in the use of ICT; and organizing, under the auspices of the United Nations, a regular institutional dialogue with a wide range of participating States.

The resolution also provides for the possibility of creating thematic subgroups within the OEWG to discuss in more detail the various elements of its mandate. This organization of the process seems to us expedient from the point of view of making the negotiations more focused and systematized. In our opinion, the very fact of specialization and deepening of the discussion in the OEWG is important, and the specific form – be it a subgroup, thematic discussion, dialogue, seminar or something else – in this case is secondary and will be determined by the chairman based on the opinions of states. Specifically, we propose to launch such profile discussions on threats and rules of responsible behavior, on the applicability of international law to the use of ICTs, confidence-building measures, capacity building assistance and regular institutional dialogue. If necessary, states can propose to allocate additional subgroups / discussions in the structure of the OEWG on the aspects of ICT security of interest to them, but the final decision on their creation, of course, will be made by consensus.

In order to better coordinate the work, as well as to ensure equal opportunities for all participants in the process, we consider the sequential order of the meetings of the subgroups / thematic discussions within the framework of each substantive session of the OEWG to be optimal. At the same time, intersessional work, primarily in the format of online consultations, will also be of great importance.

We hope that the focus on practical benefits from the global negotiation process on IIB will be our common guideline in the next five years.

Thank you for attention.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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