General Assembly General Assembly


Open Ended Working Group on Security of and in the Use of  ICTs 2021-2025


First Substantive Session

13-17 December 2021 UNHQ New York


Opening Statement on 13 December 2021


Mr. Atul M. Gotsurve

Joint Secretary [EG & IT and CD] 


Mr. Chair,


Let me begin by congratulating you on assuming the charge as the Chair of the OEWG. I also take this opportunity to thank you for convening the First Substantive Session of the Open Ended Working Group on security and in the use of  ICTs 2021-2025. 


2. The year 2021 has covered significant ground on the matters related to responsible State behaviour in cyberspace and Information and Communication Technologies. The successful conclusion of the Open Ended Working Group on Developments in use of Information and Telecommunications in the context of international security (2019-2021) and Sixth UN Group of Government Experts on Advancing Responsible State behaviour in Cyberspace in the context of international security marked the ability of convening and agreeing on complex and sensitive aspects related to use of and security of ICTs. India took part in both the processes and contributed constructively during the deliberations on various issues of importance in both the UN-mandated processes. These two processes covered significant grounds on the key topics such as cyber threats, development of norms, rules and principles for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace, application of international law, confidence building measures, capacity building and regular institutional dialogue.


3. India believes that as a transformative enabler bridging Governments and societies, ICTs should be used responsibly with trust and transparency for application in a human-centric manner and “Data for Development” should be a global imperative. The concept of ‘trusted sources’ in the ICT global supply chain to ensure integrity of ICT products and systems could not be stressed more in the context of  increasing use of ICTs for purposes that are inconsistent with international security.


4. The topic of application of international law to cyberspace needs to be  substantively discussed with primary focus on how specific aspects of the existing international law apply to the ICT, with a view to arrive at a universal approach to this matter under the UN auspices. Deepening our understanding of how international law applies is an iterative process, involving States forming national views and exchanging positions. It might be difficult to have  consensus on grey areas because of the characterisation of cyberspace. Thus, the present discussion may take into account points of convergence that have been arrived in the previous discussions and  consolidate them to seek more clarity and legal certainty.


5. The cyber attacks against information systems located in another State’s territory or causing extraterritorial effects might also constitute a breach of sovereignty.  A State enjoys the right to exercise sovereignty over objects and activities within its territory. It has the corresponding responsibility to ensure that those objects and activities are not used to harm other States. In this context, a State which is aware of an internationally wrongful act originating from or routed through its territory, and having  the ability to put an end to the harmful activity, that State should take reasonable steps to do so consistent with international law.  


6. India believes in the ancient Indian concept of ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’-World is one family. All the countries the world, small or big, developed or developing, are equally prone to cyber risks. We as a world, are as strong as the weakest country in the system. The gap in the capabilities of various nation states can be filled only if substantial capacity building measures are undertaken with emphasis on the utilisation of ICT infrastructure for greater good of participating nations. The biggest threat to global compliance is from those countries who may at present not have the requisite structures or capabilities. Improving capacities and strengthening security among countries that lack them is equally in the interest of countries which have advanced capabilities given the interconnected nature of the domain. Hence, it is imperative that capacity building of all Member States should be further enhanced in times to come.


7. India is committed to multi-stakeholder approach as the industry, civil society and academia are integral to promote an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT environment.


8. The present OEWG has started working on a foundation laid by the previous UN-mandated processes and it would be useful for all of us to take forward the working of the Group through an action-oriented approach in our discussions during this Session. In this regard, India is looking forward to extend its cooperation to the Chair and work closely with all the Member States.


9. To remove the deadlock in this Substantive Session on multi-stakeholder participation in the OEWG proceedings, our delegation proposes the following formula. Member States may declare  the reason for denial of the participation of the NGO/multi-stakeholder entity on voluntary and non-binding basis. This formula may be shared with the stakeholders as appropriate for consideration.


Thank you Mr. Chair.