Explanation of Vote on a Third Committee Resolution on Countering the use of information and communication technologies for criminal purposes

Courtney Nemroff
Deputy U.S. Representative to ECOSOC
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 13, 2018


The United States expresses its profound disappointment at the decision of the Russian Federation and its co-sponsors to press forward with this resolution.

During the so-called negotiations on this initiative, which were limited in scope and purposefully opaque. The co-sponsors paid lip-service only to the notion of building a consensus resolution. The text that we see before us today is almost exactly the same as the first draft by the co-sponsors. In fact, after four founds of informals, the Russian delegation did not accept even one substantive edit from other delegations.

Beyond the procedural pantomime of negotiation that surrounded this resolution, the text itself raises serious concerns.

First, in its resolution 65/230, the UN General Assembly has already created an expert-level body to study the problem of cybercrime and to develop possible responses to it. This Open-Ended Intergovernmental Expert Group on Cybercrime, also known as the IEG, has met four times under the auspices of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice since its creation in 2010.

We know that the solution to cybercrime will not be found through more speeches by diplomats here in New York. The General Assembly created the IEG in 2010 specifically to gather concrete advice from law enforcement and cyber experts who actually understand cybercrime and know how to investigate and prosecute it. This resolution therefore has a singularly clear objective of politicizing, polarizing, and undermining the ongoing and substantive cyber-related policy discussions within the United Nations, and undermining the ability of our law enforcement experts to share information and learn from each other in Vienna.

The United States is also concerned that some countries intend to exploit a new agenda item on cybercrime in the General Assembly’s Third Committee to launch negotiations on a new global cyber treaty. Such efforts would undermine existing treaties such as the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Budapest Convention against Cybercrime both of which already serve as effective legal frameworks in this field. In fact, we recall that the Russian Federation circulated a draft treaty of just this type last year at the General Assembly, and failed to receive any positive responses from Member States. It is also true that no cybercrime experts who attended the IEG in Vienna over the last two years have endorsed the Russian Federation’s draft treaty. Moreover, the four meetings of the IEG held since 2011 have made clear that there is no consensus on the need for a new UN cyber treaty. In this context, we are frankly surprised that some Member States who had previously served as leaders within the IEG have now decided to undermine its work by participating in this unhelpful exercise.

The Russian Federation is putting forward a resolution claiming to counter cybercrime just weeks after it was caught perpetrating a cyber-attack on an entity of the UN system, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. This attack undercut the multilateral system while simultaneously violating the sovereignty of UN Member States thus raising serious questions about Russia’s intentions as the resolution’s sponsor. Russia’s desire to cynically manipulate this body by sponsoring this text should come as no surprise, but we do continue to be puzzled as to why other Member States would endorse such a blatant effort to put the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Given the Russian Federation’s criminal misuse of information and communications technologies to undermine and violate the integrity of institutions including international organizations and sports organizations, as well as the sovereign democratic processes of UN member states, they are not the appropriate sponsor to be taking the lead of this topic. We encourage Member States not to enable this farce by aligning themselves with this preposterous exercise.

For all of these reasons the United States must vote no on this draft resolution. In order to prevent the erosion of other multilateral processes on cybercrime, we urge all other Member States to do the same.

Thank you.