Exeter Law School

Estonian Expert Provides Insight into Cyber Diplomacy’s Future

Posted by The Law School

17 November 2023

Dr Anna-Maria Osula, an official of the Department of Cyber and Digital Diplomacy at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke at the University of Exeter on Thursday 16 November 2023.

Dr Osula’s talk, set against the backdrop of the escalating use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for malicious purposes, was centred around the past and present discussions at the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG). She shed light on the ongoing international negotiations which focus on the framework of responsible behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security.

Emphasizing the complexity of this area, Dr Osula highlighted that “Cyber diplomacy is not a simple state-to-state business, but a multistakeholder endeavour.” She underscored the importance of involving diverse actors like the private sector and academia to enrich the process and its outcomes.

Looking ahead to 2024, Dr Osula anticipates an environment marked by geopolitical challenges and the need for trusted partnerships. She accentuated the demand for specialized knowledge and roles, heightened attention to security vulnerabilities, and the critical importance of building capacity, raising awareness, and improving cyber hygiene.

The talk, organized under the auspices of the Exeter Centre for International Law, was attended by a diverse audience of Exeter University students and academics from various fields. Topics discussed during the Q&A session included the attribution challenge for securing accountability in the cyber domain, contrasts between the multistakeholder and multilateral approaches to cyber diplomacy, and the question of applicability of international law in cyberspace.

Before joining the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Osula was a senior researcher at Tallinn University of Technology, and a Global Digital Governance Fellow at Stanford University. She has also worked at Guardtime as a senior policy officer, and before that as a legal researcher at NATO CCDCOE. In addition to a PhD in law from the University of Tartu, she holds an LLM degree in IT law from Stockholm University.

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