© UNODC CSU
Vienna, Austria - 30 January 2024. In the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats, civil society emerges as a vital ally, offering unique perspectives and grassroots connections crucial in combatting the multifaceted challenges posed by cybercrime. Building on this understanding, the UNODC Civil Society Unit (CSU), plays a pivotal role as a conduit for non-governmental stakeholders, including civil society, academia, and the private sector, facilitating their engagement with UNODC substantive offices and Member States.
In line with these efforts, the CSU has spearheaded the Cybercrime Stakeholder Engagement Initiative. This initiative aims to fortify the participation of non-governmental stakeholders in multilateral discussions on cybercrimes, particularly within the framework of the ongoing negotiation process of the Ad Hoc Committee to Elaborate a Comprehensive International Convention on Countering the Use of Information and Communications Technologies for Criminal Purposes, commonly known as the "Cybercrime Convention."
Regional Cyber Consultations: A Collaborative Approach to Cybersecurity
Building on this initiative, the CSU is facilitating Regional Cyber Consultations, a series of virtual meetings designed to bring together relevant actors before and after the concluding session of the Ad Hoc Committee. These consultations serve as virtual discussion platforms, fostering dialogue among stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, and academia. They delve into critical aspects surrounding cybercrimes, including prevention, responses, and policymaking. The primary objective is to encourage the active participation of non-governmental stakeholders in the early stages of the "Cybercrime Convention," recognizing the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach in combating cybercrimes and safeguarding individuals in cyberspace.
In the inaugural Regional Cyber Consultation for Asia, held on 16 January, 45 stakeholders actively engaged, sharing key challenges and recommendations from their region. Divergent national perspectives on the Budapest Convention raised sovereignty concerns, emphasizing the need to adapt legal frameworks to modern demands, especially in data sharing and privacy areas. Participants recognized the pivotal role of the Ad Hoc Committee in fostering international cooperation and discussions on legal frameworks. Concerns about the efficiency of cybercrime investigations, adapting to technological advancements, and addressing urgent issues like online fraud and wildlife trafficking were raised. Stakeholders highlighted the essential role of private entities and civil society in addressing cybercrime challenges in the region.
In the subsequent Regional Cyber Consultation for Africa, held on 18 January with 58 participants, the stakeholders noted that African nations face obstacles in establishing robust cybersecurity infrastructure, and dealing with limited resources while combating rising cyber threats. Stakeholders emphasized the need for comprehensive cybersecurity education and training, including governments, law enforcement, and civil society. Similar to other regions, there was a call to regulate cybercrime and enhance international cooperation. Creating trust between law enforcement agencies and non-governmental stakeholders to combat cybercrime effectively emerged as a common theme. Moreover, stakeholders urged for an expansion of public-private partnerships for capacity-building, raising concerns about aligning local laws with international cybercrime laws and highlighting the importance of early education on various cyber threats.
In the final Regional Cyber Consultation for the Americas on 18 January, with over 71 participants, the focus remained on recognizing rising cybercrime rates and their impact on vulnerable communities. Participants called for nuanced strategies, stressed the need to avoid domestic political issues impacting multilateralism, and highlighted the crucial role of cross-border cooperation given the lack of standardized legislation across the Americas. Insights on social media's evolving role in facilitating cybercrimes were shared. The importance of an adaptable convention, greater capacity building, safeguarding against overcriminalization, and raising awareness on technology's intersections with human trafficking were reiterated. Stakeholders emphasized that cybercrime legislation should not compromise existing data protection regulations and individual privacy rights. The unanimous agreement on collaborative efforts across sectors concluded the session.
Informal Briefing with Member States
Following the insightful Regional Cyber Consultations for Africa, the Americas, and Asia, in collaboration with the Alliance of NGOs and their partners, the Alliance of NGOs and the UNODC Civil Society Unit facilitated a reception and informal exchange with Member States on 18 January. This event served as a bridge between a diverse set of stakeholders and Member States, creating an informal space for open discussions. Building on the insights gained from the Regional Cyber Consultations for Africa, the Americas, and Asia, the reception aimed to brief Member States on identified concerns and opportunities within the Cybercrime Stakeholder Initiative, with the view to foster increased inter-connectedness, paving the way for informed and collaborative decision-making at the concluding session of the Ad Hoc Committee in New York.. This joint effort underscores a commitment to inclusivity and dialogue in addressing the challenges posed by cyber threats.
The NGO Alliance will hold a Briefing on the concluding session of the Ad Hoc Committee on 8 February, at 3 p.m. Vienna / 9 a.m. New York time (registration at: https://crimealliance.org/events/348).
Depending on the final outcomes of the concluding session (29 January – 9 February), the cybercrime stakeholder engagement initiative will continue to support theAHC and its stakeholders and coordinating corresponding regional consultations to reflect on the way forward.