Cyber diplomacy and governance: Opportunities, challenges and ways forward for the Arab countries

ICTs and their impact on peace and international security have been placed on the UN agenda since 1998, through the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and, more recently, the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG). Over the years, these bodies have developed around an international framework consisting of (non-binding) norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace, common understanding regarding the application of international law in cyberspace, confidence-building measures and guidance on capacity-building.

Due to the increased importance of global state-led negotiations around responsible state behaviour in cyberspace – and the expected involvement of all UN member states – the roles of foreign ministries and countries’ diplomatic missions are crucial. As such, the importance of foreign ministries and diplomats being equipped to deal with the challenges and possibilities of cyberspace in a manner compliant with globally recognized norms cannot be understated.

Chatham House in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Jordanian National Cyber Security Centre held a regional conference in Jordan, on 16 and 17 May 2022, entitled ‘Cyber diplomacy and governance: opportunities, challenges and ways forward for the Arab countries’. The conference convened over 60 delegates from the Arab countries (ranging from ambassadors, diplomats, experts and policymakers), regional stakeholders from civil society and academia and international experts.

This conference report provides:

– a space for structured discussion between Arab stakeholders on international cyber governance;

– identifies ways in which Arab countries can enhance their coordination to support their future engagements in global forums; and

– discusses concrete steps that Arab countries can take to operationalize the agreements they have endorsed at the UN.