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UN Cybersecurity Report Compromises on Self-Defense Issue - Russian Official

© Flickr / Yuri SamoilovChina is defending its proposed cybersecurity laws as "beyond reproach" in the wake of harsh criticism from the US - criticism that the state -run Xinhua news agency called "arrogance and hypocrisy."
China is defending its proposed cybersecurity laws as beyond reproach in the wake of harsh criticism from the US - criticism that the state -run Xinhua news agency called arrogance and hypocrisy. - Sputnik International
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The Russian presidential special envoy for international cooperation in information security, Andrei Krutskikh claims that the UN experts' report on cybersecurity contains a compromise on the use of Article 51 of the organization's Charter.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The UN experts' report on cybersecurity contains a compromise on the use of Article 51 of the organization's Charter, the Russian presidential special envoy for international cooperation in information security, Andrei Krutskikh, said.

Article 51 of the UN Charter guarantees the state its right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack against it occurs.

In July, the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security presented a report with the rules of behavior in cyberspace, which were previously agreed upon during the three rounds of consultations.

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Secretary Sergey Lavrov before a bilateral meeting in Sochi, Russia - Sputnik International
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The drafting of the document involved the experts from twenty countries, including Russia, the United States and China.

Krutskikh denied the US media reports that Russia and several other members of the GGE tried to block the idea brought up by the United States about the Article 51 of the UN Charter being applicable to cyberspace.

"The blocking of anyone's initiatives was not discussed. A compromise acceptable to all negotiators was found: the report states that all the articles of the UN Charter are applicable to the information space, which implies the Article 51 [being applicable] too," Krutskikh said in an interview with the Kommersant newspaper.

According to Krutskikh, the Article 51 of the UN Charter refers to 'armed attack', but "there is no general idea in the world today what is meant by the 'armed attack' in relation to the use of ICTs [information and communication technologies]."

"And if we did not hesitate to write that the Article 51 of the UN Charter is applicable to the field of ICT, we would have given a strong opportunity for countries to use any hacker attack as a pretext for a retaliatory use of force, that is, for a war," Krutskikh said.

The diplomat added that "in the view of emerging risks in this regard, we [Russia] and a number of other countries were against singling out the Article 51."

Krutskikh, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s ambassador-at-large, was one of the co-authors of the document.

"As a compromise, we agreed on a statement that all the provisions of the UN Charter are applicable to cyberspace. At the same time, the report emphasizes that the international community needs to agree on the key terms and concepts in the use of ICT. This includes such things as the 'armed attack'," the diplomat noted.

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Andrei Krutskikh also said that the report urged not to use the Internet space for the military and political purposes, and to avoid arbitrary prosecution of states for organizing cyber attacks.

"The report reflects the position of Russia and its partners in the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization] and BRICS, that the main goal is not to legalize and not to regulate conflicts in the information space, but to prevent using the ICT [information and communication technologies] in the political and military purposes. That is the first fundamentally important point," Krutskikh said in an interview with the Kommersant newspaper.

According to Krutskikh, the report also pointed out that "one state cannot indiscriminately accuse another of cyber attacks, as it is now often a case," as "the unilateral declarations that a certain state may be involved in illegal activities in the information field are not enough to indeed ascribe the malicious activity to that state."

"The charges of the organization and implementation of cyber attacks must be proven. This eliminates the possibility of indiscriminately holding a state responsible for the attack it had allegedly committed in the information space, as it was in the case of the sanctions which the United States introduced against North Korea in response to hacking the servers of the film company Sony Pictures", the diplomat said.

Krutskikh noted that the report repeatedly emphasizes that the ICT must be used for peaceful purposes exclusively.

"This means that actions such as disabling Iran's nuclear facilities by using the computer worm Stuxnet, are outside the law. At least outside the moral law," Krutskikh asserted.

The information security issue has been on the UN agenda since Russia in 1998 first introduced a draft resolution in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly. Ever since, there have been annual reports by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly with the views of UN Member States on the cybersecurity issue.

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