The Washington Foreign Law Society
The UN: Defining Cyber Rules of the Road?
Tuesday, February 9th, 2021
from 5:30 to 6:30 PM ET
– This event is jointly organized with the Stimson Center –
The internet, computers and related technologies are all fabulous. Except when they are not. Cyber intrusions continue to cost us untold hours of grief and trillions of dollars in losses. The issue is not only cyber criminals stealing our data or locking our info with ransomware; we have been deluged with fake news, tricked into cyber addictions, and – in some countries – had our lights turned off. This series of discussions – Cyber Accountability – Who did it? Is it wrong? Can they be stopped? – seeks to dissect cyber issues as they relate to current and potential legal accountability.
Join the Washington Foreign Law Society (WFLS) and the Stimson Center on Tuesday, February 9th, 5:30 PM Eastern Standard Time (UTC -5) for Defining Cyber Rules of the Road: The UN Efforts to push for “Responsible State Behavior,” featuring Bassem Hassan (Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations) and Robert M. Young (Legal Counsel, Criminal, Security and Diplomatic Law Division, Global Affairs Canada) for this first hour-long discussion in the Cyber Accountability series.
WFLS President Giuliana Canè will host the discussion, moderated by Debra Decker, Senior Advisor at the Stimson Center and member of the WFLS Board of Governors.
For decades, the United Nations has been trying to establish agreement around norms for cyberspace. The year 2015 brought some victory when the report of the UN Governmental Group of Experts on information and communication technologies, consisting of 20 states, won support in the UN General Assembly. Discussions then stumbled over humanitarian and human rights laws inclusion. In 2019, with the Russians and others pushing for broader stakeholder engagement in cyber discussions, the UN established two tracks of work that are now underway. What is the hope for any real progress and state accountability to come out of these efforts, and how might help be found in a new framework that France, Egypt and others propose?
Debra Decker is a Senior Advisor at the Stimson Center. She has more than 20 years of experience developing policies and managing processes in the private and public sectors and is a subject matter expert in the field of risk management. Decker is also president of Decker Advisors, LLC, a firm she recently established to focus on framing complex national security problems in innovative ways and engaging stakeholders to develop efficient solutions. Prior to this, Decker was with Booz Allen Hamilton. She has advised the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security on strategy and risk and has specialized in the threats stemming from weapons of mass destruction and in the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure. As a researcher, Decker was an associate of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Her research has been featured at the World Economic Forum and to Congress. She is a member of the Society for Risk Analysis, the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the 2013 ASIS Technical Advisory Committee for developing a national risk assessment standard. She currently serves on the boards of the Washington Foreign Law Society and of TexProtects, which works against child abuse and neglect in Texas. Decker holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an MPA from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a B.A. from American University.
Bassem Hassan joined the Egyptian Mission to the UN in New York in 2017. He is responsible for issues pertaining to disarmament, arms control, nonproliferation, cybersecurity, and international security. He is also in charge of a number of relevant issues on the Security Council’s agenda pertaining to the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, as well as the implementation of the relevant Resolutions on Iran, the DPRK, and combating the supply of Weapons of Mass Destruction to terrorists and non-state actors. He served as Vice-Chair of the First Committee, Vice-Chair of the United Nations Disarmament Commission, and Vice-President of the Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. He was also a member of the Group of Governmental Experts on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space and the Group of Governmental Experts on Nuclear Disarmament Verification. He previously served as the Alternate Representative to the IAEA and the CTBTO in Vienna, Alternate Representative to the UN and other Organizations in Geneva, and Deputy Head of Mission in Tehran. He also served at several divisions and departments at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs including as an adviser to the Minister. Mr. Hassan holds an MSc in International Relations, an MPhil in System Dynamics, an MBA, and a BSc in Economics and Political Science.
Robert M. Young
Robert Young has served as Legal Counsel at the Criminal, Security and Diplomatic Law Division of Global Affairs Canada, Canada’s foreign ministry, since 2015. As an international lawyer specialised in cyber and international law issues, Robert has represented his department and Canada in numerous multilateral and multi-stakeholder processes on cyber security, cybercrime and digital issues. He is currently legal adviser on the Canadian delegation to the UN Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on cyber and security and was legal adviser to the Canadian Expert in the UN GGE process (2016-2017). From 2015-2019 he was active on Canadian delegations to meetings of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, including negotiation of its new Protocol. Since 2018 he has served as Coordinator of the Data and Jurisdiction Contact Group of the Internet and Jurisdiction Policy Network. Robert served for almost two decades with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in a variety of legal, operational and leadership roles that took him to more than thirty countries, including 4½ years as ICRC’s Deputy Permanent Observer to the UN in New York. Robert has been an Adjunct Professor in International Law and International Relations at the University of Ottawa. He holds degrees from Queen’s University (B.A.) and the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa (LL.B, magna cum laude). In his spare time, he loves to canoe with his family in wilderness places where there is no Internet.
Sources mentioned throughout the program include the following:
- History of First Committee efforts, including links to current work: Information and communications technology (ICT) (reachingcriticalwill.org)
- The UN’s Institute for Disarmament Research: An older report on the First Committee’s approach to narrowing the focus of its work. The report was written before information operations became such a major issue with the leveraging of social media https://www.unidir.org/files/publications/pdfs/report-of-the-international-security-cyber-issues-workshop-series-en-656.pdf
- Cyber policy portal that details the published policies of States and some organizations such as NATO. https://unidir.org/cpp/en/
- GGE: Group of Governmental Experts – UNODA
- OEWG: https://www.un.org/disarmament/open-ended-working-group/
- Proposals for Programme of Action: joint-contribution-poa-future-of-cyber-discussions-at-un-10-08-2020.pdf (un-arm.org) and Egypt-Working-Paper-OEWG-ICTs1.pdf (unoda-web.s3.amazonaws.com)