Cyber diplomacy works by establishing partnerships with other countries to boost cooperation and collaboration in diplomatic means against cyber threats, accumulating like-minded alliances on significant policy matters, sharing data and national initiatives. In an era of uncertainty, the emergence of a new discipline of cyber diplomacy is transforming how diplomats cooperate with their partners. Researchers consider cyber diplomacy as an imminent challenge for politicians.
The cyber domain is not a new trend of cooperation, but it is one that encompasses modern culture and is emerging continuously. In 2015, the United Nations published a consensus report on the framework of international security to establish a structure of international standards for effective cyber behavior. The report has delivered a significant point but had little impact on the cyber behavior of the states. The global community has yet to improve awareness of what represents a violation of norms, which objectives should be forbidden to specific forms of cyber operations.
Every state has a significant role towards stability in the cyber world. The U.S encourages other states to facilitate cyber collaboration and coordination for promoting cyber stability at the international level. In 2011, the international strategy of cyberspace was formulated, and the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues at the State Department. The department was established to do the emphasis on international cyber issues and interests of the U.S in cyberspace. The interests include economic growth, Internet freedom, innovation, military uses of the internet, promoting effective governance structure, and cyber security. In Cyberspace, the main goal of the United States is to safeguard itself against cyber incidents and to defend the information networks of the Department of Defense (DoD). As mentioned by a Research Fellow, Fergus Hanson, “The U.S State Department operates a global media empire”. In 2015, the White House launched the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC) in which policymakers and cyber institutions will cooperate from this department. The United States is facing cyber threats from state actors. Some foreign governments are trying to steal the secrecy of American business and trade.
In June 2021 at the Russian American Summit at Geneva, the US president Joe Biden and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin exchanged their views on information technology and emphasized on the significance of cybersecurity. They expressed their mutual coordination on practical cyber issues to confront cyber attacks through technical intelligence and criminal justice procedures.
On 24-25 Sep 2015, during the state visit of President Xi Jinping of China and President Barack Obama reached an agreement called “U.S China Cyber Security Agreement”, which declares that both world powers will not engage in any cyber-related activities against anyone to target their economic growth and will take the required actions to collaborate on issues related to cyber security. In China, there are key cyber diplomacy agencies e.g., Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Central Internet Security, and Leading Information Group to tackle the cyber issues.
The European Union is also focusing on international law in cyberspace and governance which includes minimizing the cyberattacks, upgrading international stability, safeguarding the digital economy, protecting a free and open internet, and capacity building in third world states. The European Union is practicing cyber discussion with the U.S, China, Germany, South Korea, Japan, and other countries. Germany and the European Union consider cyber diplomacy to be significant for their foreign policies. In Feb 2015, the foundation for the joint strategy Council Conclusion of EU was established in which various strategies and policies have been implemented at national and transnational levels. In Dec 2020, further resolutions were also implemented to enhance the cyber security and cyber diplomacy of the EU.
Germany believes that cyber security is a global issue that can be handled easily by transnational collaboration specifically by the assistance of regional organizations e.g., NATO and the UN. Moreover, this also applies to the prosecution of cyber hackers, as it will only be feasible under international law when international cooperation is confirmed.
India and America have also committed to upgrading cyber cooperation on cyber concerns. The Indian government is at top of the list in cyber security awareness rather than limited to its private sector. The Ministry of Communications and ICT is at the vanguard while other agencies tackling cyber disputes are the Department of Electronics & Information Technology and the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre. South Korea also indulges in an effective cyber diplomacy game with the cooperation of other Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and National Internet and Security Agency are the active bodies to handle cyber issues.
To conclude, Cyber diplomacy has become an emerging strategy of foreign policy because of the latest developments in information technology in the era of 21st century. Cyber issues are a significant component of the foreign policy of any country, which should be coherent with the government core areas while future objectives for transnational collaboration in which stakeholders would be engaged. Internet users are becoming more networked and interconnected at the international level which has created a lot of encounters like cyber espionage, Cyber security, data secrecy, and IoT. The heads of states need to cooperate and collaborate to formulate a cyber strategy appropriately. There is a need for more effective cyber diplomacy between states to enhance the national cyber security of cyber users and to defend their national interests.
Ms. Iram Zahid is working as a Research Assistant with National Institute of Maritime Affairs, NIMA,Bahria Univeristy, Islamabad. She has done her Master’s in International Relations from National Defence University, Islamabad.