Netherlands and Estonia to set up cyber platform

The Netherlands and Estonia are to set up a platform on the norms of conduct in cyberspace.

An agreement to make it happen was reached in Brussels on 16 November by Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders and his Estonian counterpart Marina Kaljurand during talks on international cyber security.

In recent years, the Netherlands and Estonia have taken the lead in the debate on international peace and security in cyberspace. This makes pooling expertise in a cyber platform a logical step, the ministers said.

Kaljurand said that the platform will contribute to the exchange of international research into legal and political norms associated with the responsible conduct of states in cyberspace. Effective exchange of information will help bring about international consensus on this theme.

The platform will form the basis for joint academic research and an annual meeting of specialists. There will also be regular consultations and an annual review of the norms for responsible conduct in cyberspace.

It is clear from the events and developments of recent years, Koenders said, that geopolitical tensions are increasingly reflected in cyberspace. “States and other actors are making more frequent use of cyber operations to serve their strategic interests. This can create instability in international relations and cyberspace,” he added.

The platform will be building on the advances already made by the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (UN GGE) on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security. The UN GGE has, for example, ascertained that international law applies to cyberspace, but it is yet to be seen how this works in practice and if any obstacles remain. The platform will also look at which political norms can be developed further to support a free, open and safe cyberspace.

Estonia has in recent years become one of the leading nations in cyber security sphere. The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence is also based in Tallinn.

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