Estonia’s first woman president, Kersti Kaljulaid, addressed the use of information technology and cyber security at the UN.

UN Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, (centre right), is shown with the President of the Republic of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, (centre left) at UN Headquarters in New York. UN Photo/ Eskinder Debebe.

In a key address made at UN Headquarters in New York, the energetic, internet savvy President of the Baltic country of Estonia, made a powerful statement on E governance and Cybersecurity which all UN Member States would benefit from.

In her remarks during the General Debate of the 72nd UN General Assembly, the Estonian President said “today, the use of information technology and internet are part of everyday life of people everywhere. Estonia can share our experience on how to best utilize e-governance to achieve the SDGs more efficiently and at lower cost.”

She went on to say, “Estonia has been organizing an event series at the UN with the aim to introduce the already well proven benefits of our e-governance to the international community. We hope that the events will lead to concrete action and partnerships.”

The Estonian President stated: “Moreover, this summer, Estonia and Singapore launched the Group of Friends on E-Governance and Cybersecurity. The aim of the group is to raise awareness, share best practices, and promote capacity building now when these topics are becoming increasingly important at the UN level.”

Estonia’s first woman president, Kersti Kaljulaid, addressed the use of information technology and cyber security at the UN.
Here we see Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia, addressing the general debate of the UN General Assembly’s seventy-second session in New York. UN Photo/Cia Pak

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid also discussed digital change and attacks via cyberspace. Here is what she had to say: “Digital change is everywhere. Its biggest effect on us right now is making geography obsolete. Attacks via cyberspace know no range. Friendships and partnerships formed in cybersphere know no borders. It makes us closer to each other globally. A digitally enhanced global civil society functions better if states provide their people with safe means of digital communication.”

In addition, she said that “in an analogue world, it is easy to identify yourself even to people you do not know, as states have provided us with passports. Similar identification need exists in cyber space, yet too few governments provide the means of safe identification. The governments need to catch up and give this possibility to their people, to protect them, and to allow them to transact and communicate safely online.”

Regarding vulnerability in cyberspace and how international law applies to the use of ICT, here’s what the President of Estonia stated: “A greater dependence an electronic services has, however, resulted in greater vulnerability in cyberspace. This does not mean we can or should try to stop digital progress. “

She added, “We need to continue efforts to analyze how international law applies to the use of ICT, particularly, the principle of due diligence counter-measures, potential application of the right to self-defense, and International Humanitarian Law. I call upon all states, which have not yet done so, to accede to the Council of Europe Convention on cybercrime.”

In conclusion, the President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, said that “I would also like to underline the statement of the Freedom Online Coalition in which they expressed deep concern over the growing trend of intentional, state-sponsored disruptions of both access and dissemination of information online. No one should be denied the right of peaceful assembly, the freedoms of association, opinion and expression, be it by the means of physical presence or online.”