3rd Session of UN Working Group on Security and Use of ICTs Holds in New York in July

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Ambassador Burhan Gafoor
Chair, OEWG

The Third Substantive session of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) 2021–2025, will take place at the United Nations headquarters in New York in the United States from July 25 to 29, 2022.

Established by UN General Assembly resolution 75/240, which was adopted on December 31, 2020, the OEWG promotes common understandings of information security, measures to prevent and counter existing and potential threats, and the application of international and national law to ICTs which have implications for issues such as freedom of expression, internet freedom and accessibility, and right to information.

The OEWG reached agreement to apply the modalities for participation of stakeholders as set out in the proposal by its Chair, Ambassador Burhan Gafoor of Singapore, as contained in his letter of April 20, 2022 to all the Permanent Representatives and Permanent Observers to the UN in New York.

In accordance with their agreement, the Member States of the OEWG said they are committed to engaging with stakeholders in a systematic, sustained, and substantive manner.

Under the agreement, relevant non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council would inform the Secretariat of the OEWG of their interest to participate in the work of the OEWG.

Other interested NGOs relevant and competent to the scope and purpose of the OEWG are required to also inform the Secretariat of their interest in participating by submitting information on the organization’s purpose, programmes and activities in areas relevant to the scope of the OEWG.  Such organizations would accordingly be invited to participate, on a non-objection basis, as observers in the formal sessions of the OEWG.

Accredited stakeholders will be able to attend formal meetings of the OEWG, make oral statements during a dedicated stakeholder session, and submit written inputs to be posted on the webpage of the OEWG.

The period for the receipt of accreditation requests by the Secretariat closed on May 24, 2022, following which the Secretariat circulated a Note Verbale to Member States informing them of the requests received for accreditation.

The OEWG is urging Member States to “utilize the non-objection mechanism judiciously, bearing in mind the spirit of inclusivity.”

Where there is an objection to a non-governmental organization, the objecting Member State is required to make known its objection to the Chair of the OEWG and, on a voluntary basis, make known to the Chair of the OEWG the general basis of its objections.

The Chair of the OEWG will share any information received with any Member State upon its request. The Chair will also organize informal consultative meetings with stakeholders during the inter-sessional period, building on the practice of the previous OEWG.

The agreement stresses that the OEWG is an inter-governmental process in which negotiation and decision making are exclusive prerogatives of Member States and that the modalities for this OEWG will in no way create a precedent for any other UN process.