Wired yet Disconnected: The Governance of International Cyber Relations

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Shaping an international consensus for the digital age is the current challenge. The nature of cyberspace complicates efforts to govern it, notably due to its asymmetrical, anonymous and dual-use characteristics. Such intricacies are compounded by the fact that the global cyber landscape varies significantly in terms of technologies, capabilities and strategies. Despite the complex nature of cyberspace, existing international legal regimes are adequate. International law is applicable to cyberspace; it is rather a question of sorting out the specificities of how it is to be applied. Based on a normative approach, the focus should be placed on further constructing and connecting those existing political and strategic frameworks for the effective governance of international ‘cyber’ relations.

Policy Implications

  • Cyber-security should be cultivated as a national and foreign policy priority.
  • The debate surrounding cyber-security should be calibrated, recognizing the various military, political, economic and cultural dimensions and focusing on those areas where practical cooperation can build up confidence among states.
  • A focus should be placed on ‘minilateralism’ in international ‘cyber’ relations to reach consensus through regional arrangements or groups of like-minded states and to build momentum around certain principles with a view to reaching broader agreement among the international community.
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