Statement of Germany in the UN Security Council Arria-formula meeting: “The responsibility and responsiveness of States to cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, 25 May 2023

25.05.2023 - Speech

The statement was delivered by Ambassador Thomas Zahneisen.

Germany wishes to thank Albania and the United States for putting this important topic on the agenda.

The increase in state sponsored malicious cyber activity is extremely worrying. In our view, it undoubtedly represents a significant threat to international peace and security.

It is enough to look at Europe in 2022. We have seen Russia’s unprecedented cyberwar against Ukraine with significant spill-over effects into European networks. But also Albania and Montenegro experienced massive cyber-attacks crippling core public institutions. Cyber incidents of similar magnitude have hit other world regions, causing considerable economic damage.

The gravity of these incidents must serve as an urgent call to action. The Council needs to confront the realities of a new conflict that is taking place in the cyber space.

In this regard, we would like to acknowledge the leadership role of Estonia. The high level open debate on cyber security held in this Council in June 2021 was a milestone.

Mr Chair,

We would like to set out three areas, which the Security Council should explore in order to make an effective contribution to safeguarding international peace and security and promote an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful cyberspace.

These proposals are based on our firm belief that international law fully applies to the cyber domain, without any reservation. In this regard, the UN Charter fulfils a core function when it comes to the maintenance of international peace and security—also in relation to cyber activities.

First, we believe that the Security Council should assume an investigative role. Art. 34 of the UN Charter clearly authorizes the Security Council to investigate into any situation that might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute. The Council can also act in a more general sense, by holding regular in-depth discussions or providing analyses of risks emanating from cyber-attacks.

Second, the Security Council should engage in dispute resolution, deriving from its tasks enshrined in Chapter VI of the UN Charter. Where required, a more robust response to maintain or restore international peace and security must be considered as well.

Third, and finally, Germany sees a strong potential of the Security Council in trust-building.

By keeping cyber issues on its agenda, by investigating specific situations of cyber conflict or by facilitating their peaceful settlement, the Council can contribute to building the evolving framework of responsible state behavior in cyber space, all based on international law, complemented by voluntary UN norms, and confidence building measures.

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