Report of UN Crisis Information Management Advisory Group (CiMAG) Retreat 2013
ICT4Peace Foundation

The dramatic rise of cyber-attacks: What are Governments doing about it?


6 June, Geneva, SwitzerlandThe world is facing a new challenge that is here to stay: an invasive, multi-pronged and multi-layered threat, a modern day arms race without visible weapons or actors, characterized by an escalating number of attacks both on and off the radar. The stability of our networked global system and the proper functioning of our countries, cities and daily activities, rely on the Internet. Critical infrastructure – including transport, transport security, nuclear power plants, electricity, communication networks, oil pipelines, and financial institutions – has become a clear target for cyber attacks, which could have devastating consequences for humankind. 
The Internet is a global common good, which has triggered an explosion of innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, communication, business activity, economic growth, social networking, and exchange of ideas. Tackling a threat to this mainstay of modern society requires a global effort, a concerted open dialogue to find common ground and solutions.
While these activities have been taking place for many years behind the scenes, the recent increased number and frequency of media reports, citizens are becoming increasingly aware of this new threat to their wellbeing and are looking towards their governments, civil society leaders and business to engage at the national and global level to find solutions and international agreements to mitigate this threat. 
Building on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and keeping in mind the United Nations Millennium Declaration on peace, security and disarmament, Nation states need to push the international cyber agenda ahead, placing a priority on cyber diplomacy both at a multilateral and bilateral levels. The cloak and dagger erosion of trust currently taking place within countries and between countries at the highest level needs to be stopped through increased transparency and trust building. Cyber-cooperation and cyber diplomacy should become the norm.
The ICT4Peace Foundation has since 2011 called for serious and urgent global negotiations by Governments on norms of state behavior in the cyberspace, and on how to include civil society and business in this regard (
There are encouraging signs that States are finally engaging (e.g at the UNGGE, OSCE, ARF), but more robust and output oriented negotiations are needed. Admittedly this is a new area for diplomats and the relevant stake-holders. It is for that reason that the ICT4Peace Foundation has decided to publish this map of global and regional Processes, Agendas and Instruments that are addressing the issue of cyber security. We wish to thank the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their support to the writing of this report.
Daniel Stauffacher
ICT4Peace Foundation
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Download a report on the use of Information and Communications Technologies for peacebuilding (ICT4Peace), with a Preface by Kofi A. Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations here
An updated version of this report, with critical analysis on current policies and practices of ICTs in peacebuilding and crises was published in early 2011. Published in collaboration with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and GeorgiaTech, Peacebuilding in the Information Age: Sifting Hype from Reality can be read here
ICT4Peace Foundation
ICT4Peace took root with pioneering research on the role of ICTs in preventing, responding to and recovering from conflict in 2003 and lead to the adoption of Paragraph 36 by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis in 2005 which recognises “...the potential of ICTs to promote peace and to prevent conflict which, inter alia, negatively affects achieving development goals. ICTs can be used for identifying conflict situations through early-warning systems preventing conflicts, promoting their peaceful resolution, supporting humanitarian action, including protection of civilians in armed conflicts, facilitating peacekeeping missions, and assisting post conflict peace-building and reconstruction".
The ICT4Peace Foundation works to promote the practical realisation of Paragraph 36 and looks at the role of ICT in crisis management, covering aspects of early warning and conflict prevention, peace mediation, peacekeeping, peace-building as well as natural disaster management and humanitarian operations. 
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