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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

“Multistakeholderism” in Cybersecurity Governance

Multistakeholderism is a very recent development in digital world, especially applied in cyberspace. This new framework has emerged to effectively deal with the problem of modern policy development challenges, where only states are not victim, rather multiple stakeholders involvement is key to effectively mitigate such problems. Problems encompassing a wide range of cybersecurity emerging issues like “Internet Governance” (IG), peace and stability in cyberspace, maintaining cyber hygiene etc. This framework also applied in sustainable development, climate challenges. “Multistakeholderism” is based on the concept of management of internet resources jointly with the engagement from multi-side stakeholders like: private sectors, governments, businessman and civil societies, technical experts, industry, academia and international institutions. They evolving nature of cyberspace make obvious this collaboration. Stakeholders take decision for internet resource management and governance. Specially, private sector is the prime sector to defense cyber threats, as handle maximum global internet resources. Here, anyone, as a stakeholder, can participate in the discussion to address specific policy challenges or goal. Most discussion subjects govern the present international law and their applicability in cyberspace.

“Multistakeholderism” is a departure from “Multilateralism”, which means only state will participate in dialogue for formulating policy and procedures in country.

“Multistakeholderism” in UN Charter:

In its charter of UN, “Multistakeholderism” established from the foundation stage. In UN charter, article 71 mentioned that, United Nation Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) “may make suitable arrangement for consultation with non-governmental organization which are concerned with matters within competence.” Thus UN paved the way of inclusive arrangement for non-governmental stakeholders progressing involvement in various UN process. ECOSOC resolution later revised for greater transparency in 1996/31 quoting “widely and timely dissemination of information on meetings” as well as “provision of access and transparent, simple and streamlined procedures for attendance of non-governmental organizations in UN meetings.

The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace3:

The ever bigger forum “Paris Peace Forum” launched in 2018, while Internet Governance Forum held at UNESCO, call for states, private sectors, NGOs and civil societies and declared a non-binding norms for responsible behavior in cyberspace. Its proclaims 9 common principles to secure cyberspace, guidance on focused discussion and action towards cyber threats. Paris Peace Forum already supported by 79 states, 35 public authorities and local governments, 391 organizations and members of civil society, 706 companies and private sector entities.

Recommendation for Meaningful and Effective Multi-Stakeholderism in Cybersecurity:

In a study done by cybersecurity Tech Accord titled “Multi-stakeholder participation at the UN: The need for greater inclusivity in the UN dialogues on cybersecurity”, details on UN effort for multi-stakeholder participation in its policy making process. As mentioned previous, from the foundation level, UN includes in its charter to foster greater participation. To emphasize on that and make it effective, ECOSOC made effort to revise its article, realized to accredit the non-governmental organization. In its study “Tech Accord” prescribed following suggestion to:  

  1. Establishing process of inclusive accreditation:

Establishing a non-restrictive accreditation mechanism is pivotal, so that stakeholder from all range of society like private sector, academia, civil society with relevant experience can participate and contribute. So far, OEWG meeting in ECOSOC has been restricted to NGOs only.

  • Encourage regular dialogue:

To develop trust and cooperative environment for meaningful engagement, involve stakeholders should be throughout the process. This is especially important, as cybersecurity is continuously evolving and threat landscape increasing very fast. To address this problems, stakeholder should be promoted regular dialogue and ensure input from participants.    

  • Timely sharing of Information:

For all multiple stakeholder discussion held in UN, transparency is necessary in center. To uphold this, all discussion information, agenda and decision dissemination, feedback accumulation and upgradation is necessary. The United Nation Office of Disarmament Affairs(UNODA)has sets an example to fully use technological means for publishing information around ongoing process.

  • Mechanisms for Stakeholder input:

It is important that, documents are shared with proper stakeholders in due time with due access, multiple stakeholder can input their comments in writing or in person. In regards to UNODA, submission of non-government entities has been made available published website. This can promote for collaborative discussion

  • Promote for virtual meetings along with Physical ones:

In addition to physical meeting, it can more effective in virtual meeting, where representatives can participate from all sectors. This can be more inclusive, efficient of budget and fruitful. It is important that, this type of meeting can be easily recorded, documented and published in websites.  

  • Explore various models and venues for “multi-stakeholder” participation:

In addition to systematic inclusion, other models of multi-stakeholder engagement should be established, where exchange of views can be extended among multi stakeholder groups. Such other models considered included:

  • Organize side events for focused group discussion with participants with agenda in advanced agreed upon.
  • Regular engagement with private sector forum through SDS business forum, UN global forum etc.
  • Through creation of “leadership dialogue” bringing together different groups, leaders, civil societies and academics for interactive discussion on best practices, challenges, priorities work done by UN environment assembly.
  • Beyond UN, Explore “multi-stakeholder” conversation for international agreement:

Beyond UN dialogue on “multi-stakeholder” agreement on international norms building measures, it is equally important to maintain transparency and inclusion of different perspective. Regional organization is key to success and can contribute on common areas of work and for mutual support. Beside UN, such a vivid example is “Paris call for trust and security in cyberspace” and already playing in pivotal role in peace and stability dialogue in cyberspace.

  • Foster “Cybersecurity Action Group” for measuring responsible cyber behavior:

Not only building the cybersecurity responsible behavior building, but to monitor and measure the effectiveness of implementation, it is vital follow-up action with stakeholders. For this a “Cybersecurity Action Group” can oversee the implementation process and follow-up time to time. Following this, the sanction and reward mechanism can also be established, so that, stakeholder are motivated to implement.

  • Evaluate for implementation of country wise chapter for cybersecurity dialogue:

It is equally important to evaluate the feasibility for establishing chapter in the member state. This will foster to monitor and measure the norms implementation effectively, as mentioned previously. Country wise chapter also accelerate the collaboration and cooperation. This will help toward UN cybersecurity footprint in a way towards sustainable development goal (SDG).

  1. Funding and Financing for cybersecurity Rapid Development:

For effective implementation of cybersecurity capacity building, resource development, manage and maintain up to date technology to combat cybercrime, it is key to raise fund and finance for low and middle capable country. This will accelerate the cyber infrastructure development and maintaining.

Rezaul Islam

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