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AU Eyes Unified Stance on Application of Intl Law in Cyberspace

ADDIS ABABA – The African Union says significant steps have been made in its bid to establish a Common African Position or CPA on the application of international law in cyberspace.

This comes months after the Peace and Security Council (PSC), in a November 2022 Communiqué, tasked the AUC Commission on International Law to prepare the draft CAP statement.

The communique gave two major reasons for the decision to establish a common African stance on cyberspace.

The first one emanates from its “deep concerns” over hostile cyber-activities undertaken by state and non-state actors in times of peace and during armed conflicts in the continent and the bloc’s decisions to deter them.

It also came in response to “an urgent need” for  Africa to actively engage in the process of defining the rules of international law and its interests In the latest United Nations bid to devise rules on cyberspace. 

AU: draft CAP statement under discussions

Today, the African Union says member states’ cooperative endeavor has already made “significant steps towards establishing” what is known as a Common African Position on the Application of International Law in Cyberspace

The AU International Law concluded developing the draft CAP statement “with the support of Global Affairs Canada (GAC)”. 

“This noteworthy accomplishment will serve as a testament to Africa’s commitment to addressing the difficulties and possibilities presented by cyberspace, as well as its dedication to upholding international law in this quickly evolving domain,” the Union says.

The CAP is currently going through consultations among member states and African experts and will be at a later stage considered by the PSC and the AU Policy Organs. 

Two capacity-building training sessions for member states and experts have been conducted on the development of the CAP, so far. The second session held in Addis Ababa last month gave an opportunity for initial consultations on the draft statement, the AU says without delving into its content.

The discussions on the draft CAP statement will continue during the third cyber training program scheduled for later this in New York.

The program is for experts representing AU Member States in the UN General Assembly First Committee, which is responsible for following multilateral processes such as the Open-Ended Working Group on cybersecurity. 

The UN has been in an elaborate process of negotiations on an international convention on cybercrime for years.  Analysts say the long-standing disagreements between countries on the need for a global, interoperable, and open internet have hampered those efforts, and the root causes of cyber instability remain.