Intervention by Mr. Md. Rafiqul Alam Molla, Counsellor at the 6th substantive session of the Open-Ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies 2021-2025 (OEWG), International Law, at CR-1, UNHQs, 13 December 2023

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Bangladesh believes that international law, and particularly the Charter of the United Nations in its entirety, international human rights law, and international humanitarian law, are applicable to maintain peace, stability, and promote an open, secure, stable, accessible, and peaceful ICT environment.

We reiterate that principles of international law encompass respect for sovereign equality, the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means, non-aggression, the prohibition of the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the UN, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of states, apply in the cyber domain.

2nd APR, previous OEWG and the GGEs recognized that “a number of States are developing ICT capabilities for military purposes” and that “the use of ICTs in future conflicts between States is becoming more likely”. This truth is further amplified by the rapid development of AI including generative AI and emerging technologies.

We believe that OEWG process can expedite clarity and enhance common understanding of how international law and International Humanitarian Law apply to state conduct in cyberspace. It also has the potential to contribute to the development of customary international law that is applicable to the unique challenges of the cyber domain.

The duty of nonintervention, for example, protects a states’ international and external affairs from “coercive” intervention by other states. Yet, there’s no consensus on which “affairs” the duty protects, let alone what differentiates coercive from noncoercive cyber activity.

In this regard, we are of the view that the group should leverage the expertise of all relevant bodies and stakeholders, including International Law Commission, legal experts from global south, as proposed by Brazil, on how and when international law, including IHL, applies to cyber operations.

Perhaps, engaging in global cyber exercises, simulating real-world scenarios to test the effectiveness of the existing legal frameworks and response protocols could help us better understand the applicability of international law and also identify the gaps.

Furthermore, creating a readily accessible online repository of legal resources, translated into multiple languages, providing a comprehensive knowledge base for all states, could also be useful.

Mr. Chair,

Given the unique characteristics of the ICTs including their borderless nature, speed and anonymity, dual-use potential, and constant evolution, we emphasize the existence of legal gaps in the applicability of international law to the cyber domain, such as the lack of a clear understanding of the attribution of cyber-attacks, State Responsibility Threshold, the use of force in cyberspace, ambiguity of definitions, among others. Consequently, we recognize the merit of developing a dedicated international legal framework tailored to the distinct characteristics of the ICT environment. It is imperative that any such framework addressing ICT-related issues be universal, inclusive, and non-discriminatory in nature.

Finally, Mr. Chair, capacity building remains critical, not only in international law but also across all pillars of the OEWG.

I thank you.