I thank Albania and the United States for convening this debate. I also thank Under-Secretary-General Izumi Nakamitsu, Ms. Marietje Schaake and Ms. Moliehi Makumane for their interventions.
Switzerland is particularly concerned about cyber operations conducted or tolerated by States in a manner that is incompatible with international law. It is worrying that state and non-state actors target critical infrastructure and civil society through cyber operations. This includes medical and humanitarian infrastructure, such as the cyber operation against the ICRC discovered in November 2021. There are also concerns about unintended "spill-over" effects and emerging technologies that can - if not secured - be susceptible to malicious cyber activities.
I would like to highlight three points:
First, international law is applicable to cyberspace. The General Assembly has recognised this in several resolutions and through the Framework for Responsible Conduct of States in Cyberspace. Applicable law includes the rules of the UN Charter, the law of state responsibility, human rights and international humanitarian law in the context of armed conflict. Cyber operations in armed conflict can have real and serious consequences. We must prioritise a common understanding of the implementation of existing international law before discussing a new legally binding instrument.
Second, cooperation must be created and strengthened in order to increase security against cyber risks. The private sector is an important partner, as it owns and operates the internet infrastructure. Since April, Switzerland has a new cyber strategy. It calls for increased coordination at government level and encourages public-private partnerships. At the international level, the Cyber Security Action Programme should strengthen cooperation between states and other actors in this field.
Third, a stable, open, free and peaceful cyberspace requires the integration of the entire society. Swiss-supported research conducted by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders and the ICT4Peace Foundation on the influence of cyber security on the women, peace and security agenda shows that women are often disproportionately affected by cyber threats. Measures to mitigate gender-related cyber security risks are insufficient. A gender-sensitive approach will improve women's access to cybersecurity tools and more holistic and effective responses to cyber threats.
The Security Council can play a role. It can send a strong message by promoting respect for international law and the framework for responsible state behaviour in cyberspace. In the event of a threat to peace and security, the Council should use its Charter powers and promote the peaceful resolution of conflicts.