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Enhancing International Cyber Security: A Key Role for Diplomacy

Sico van der Meer
Journal01 November 2015

Cyber aggression is an increasing threat to international security and stability. While national policies intended to deter cyber aggression may offer some solution in the short term, their effects in the long term are doubtful. National cyber-deterrence policies entail the risk of an on-going cyber arms race and a cycle of escalation between potential cyber opponents. Diplomacy may offer fewer results in the short term, but it is more promising in the long term. Confidence-building measures and international norms and values may not be easy to reach, but in the end they could be more effective (and cheaper) than a single focus on national cyber-deterrence strategies. In the long term, cooperation between states to establish confidence and commonly accepted norms of behaviour in cyber space are the most promising ways available to achieve enduring cyber security and stability. Enhancing interstate co-operation, transparency and predictability of behaviour in cyberspace will reduce the risks of misperception, escalation and conflict.

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