Address by CICA Deputy Secretary General Chi Fang
at the Plenary Session of the 17th International Forum
“Partnership of state authorities, civil society and the business community in ensuring international information security”
Distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank my Russian colleagues and hosts, the National Association for International Information Security, for their trust and invitation to participate in this international forum.
I represent the Secretariat of one of the largest multilateral associations in our region, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia or CICA. Let me briefly introduce our organization and tell you about it.
Last year, CICA marked its 30th anniversary. At the 47th session of the UN General Assembly in 1992, First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev put forward an initiative to convene CICA. The subsequent evolution of the Conference was, to a great extent, a response to the need of many Asian states for new forms of interaction and cooperation amid the tectonic changes in the system of geopolitical coordinates taking place at that time.
Over the years, CICA has proven to be an effective international mechanism for confidence building and cooperation, taking its rightful place in the matrix of multilateral interaction on the widest range of issues in our region. CICA has established regular activities of its governing, working, and advisory bodies. The network of the Conference’s external relations with leading international organizations, including the UN, the SCO, the EAEU and others, is being strengthened and expanded.
Today, our 28-nation forum is a flexible institution guided by such fundamental principles as inclusiveness, strict consensus, and voluntariness. CICA countries have, at times, vastly differing perspectives on certain issues on the international agenda. However, strict adherence to the mentioned principles allows them to interact effectively and develop solutions by focusing not on what divides them but on what unites them. This represents the great value and unique feature of CICA setting it apart from other organizations operating in the region.
CICA cooperation largely builds on the Catalogue of Confidence Building Measures. It is a document, unique in the Asian history of diplomacy, in which the Member States agreed on joint approaches to interaction in order to build confidence by upholding the “simple-to-complex” principle – first establishing confidence, then, on this basis, building full cooperation that leads to greater mutual security, which, in turn, is the prerequisite for sustainable development and prosperity.
Our Catalogue consists of five broad dimensions of interaction: economic, environmental, human, new challenges and threats, and military-political, which in turn are divided into 18 priority areas. In particular, today the Member States are primarily interested in economic issues, such as small and medium enterprises, tourism, agriculture, energy, and capacity building to counter new challenges and threats, which, in fact, includes international information security.
Based on relevant concept papers and action plans, seminars, conferences, trainings, expert meetings and other activities on the implementation of confidence building measures in the above-mentioned areas are conducted within CICA. CICA experts have an opportunity to exchange valuable experience, share national developments and achievements, identify vectors for future interaction, and agree on mutually beneficial joint projects for the benefit of all Eurasian states.
Last October, the Sixth CICA Summit was held in Astana under the chairmanship of Kazakhstan, which resulted in a decision to launch the transformation of CICA into a full-fledged international organization. It also mapped out the principal directions of activity of our forum for the years to come. These include connectivity and transport and logistics infrastructure, financial cooperation, food security, sustainable development, environmental and climate change issues, youth cooperation, and volunteering.
The Summit also decided to launch the CICA Fund, a special mechanism to identify CICA projects and accumulate voluntary funds for their implementation.
Turning to the topic of our conference, I would like to mention that the leaders also approved the Joint Statement on Cooperation in the Field of Security of and in the Use of ICTs initiated by Russia and China.
The document notes the greatly expanded role of ICTs in all areas of human activities, including as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is commensurate with the increased risks of the misuse of the ICT advances for criminal and terrorist purposes. Concerns are expressed about threats to data security and the risks of Internet fragmentation.
The Statement underscores the readiness of the CICA countries to converge approaches to ensuring ICT security, develop cooperation in this area within the Conference based on universally recognized principles of international law, primarily the UN Charter. The importance of such mechanisms of the global discussion on international information security as the UN Open-ended Working Group on Security of and in the Use of ICTs 2021–2025, as well as the UN Open-ended Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Committee of Experts to Elaborate a Comprehensive International Convention on Countering the Use of ICTs for Criminal Purposes is highlighted.
The document also puts a focus on assisting developing CICA Member States in building information security capacity and bridging the digital divide to ensure the security and sustainability of the global information space.
Moreover, the leaders mentioned the relevant discussion on Internet governance based on the decisions of the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society of the 2005 World Summit.
It is significant that the Statement was developed as a follow-up to the implementation of confidence building measures in the priority area of Security of and in the Use of ICTs coordinated by Russia and China until 2025.
This area was included in the updated Catalogue relatively recently, in October 2021, by decision of the CICA Ministerial Meeting. Accordingly, the CICA Member States may implement the following measures:
1) Promoting an open, secure, peaceful and cooperative ICT environment in Asia based on mutual respect, enhancing contacts and exchanges, deepening dialogue and cooperation, and combating threats arising from the malicious use of ICTs.
2) Facilitating dialogue among CICA Member States to build confidence, stability and reduce risks in the security of and in the use of ICTs.
3) Recognizing the importance of the peaceful use of ICTs by dispelling any misunderstandings among CICA Member States as well as promoting trust.
4) Sharing information, best practices and raising awareness on security of and in the use of ICTs to address threats arising from the use of ICTs.
5) Improving cooperation to respond to the criminal use of ICTs through an internationally harmonized legal framework.
Over the past two years, a number of initiatives have been implemented in this field. These include the Conference on the Impact of Emerging Technologies on International Security (Republic of Korea, October 2020), the Seminar on Prospects of Cooperation in the Area of Cybersecurity (Kazakhstan, November 2021), and the Workshop on Sustainable and Secure Development of the Internet (Russia, August 2022). In July 2022, Kazakhstan held a round table on a related topic “New reality in information and communication technology: trends and prospects”.
Given the particular relevance of international information security for our entire Eurasian continent, it was in this area that the cross-platform format of activity was tested. In November-December 2022, at the initiative of the SCO Secretariat and with the support of the CICA Secretariat, a training seminar on combating cybercrime was held for SCO and CICA countries, which included thematic sessions and lectures by cyber security experts in connection with digital transformation, cybercrime prevention and related regulatory frameworks, combating cyberterrorism and financial crimes on the Internet, as well as skill formation.
In just two weeks – on 2-3 October – Russia will hold an online seminar on digital forensics.
Similar projects, but in the context of general issues of countering new challenges and threats, are being planned by Türkiye, and in May this year India has held a thematic event on countering the misuse of the Internet to combat terrorism.
We in the Secretariat note that the CICA Member States are interested in dialogue and exchange of best practices on digitalization and ICT applications in business, trade, logistics, agriculture. That is, the issues of information and communication technologies, their security and safety of their use are becoming cross-sectoral. Such approach to these issues definitely calls for coordinated efforts of all states in the region, representatives of business, academia and civil society to create a secure and sustainable ICT environment. I am convinced that multilateral institutions, including CICA, play a crucial role in this process.
I would like to conclude by wishing the forum participants useful and productive discussions.
Thank you for your attention.
18 September 2023