Calling on the UN to prioritise digital trust and security

The following is an open letter addressed to His Excellency Volkan Bozkir, the new President of the United Nations General Assembly, urging him to make digital trust and security a priority for his presidency.

The letter calls for a global statement on digital trust and security to be endorsed by member states. The statement would send a clear signal that world leaders in government, industry, and civil society are committed to closing the trust deficit in the digital age and securing progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

His Excellency Volkan Bozkir, President, United Nations General Assembly
Tuesday, September 22, 2020

We – the undersigned –  call on the United Nations to promote and safeguard the digital technologies that now underpin society. As the world faces a historic challenge it is now more critical than ever that technology is both available to all as a matter of social and economic justice but also used in the right way and in pursuit of common good.

The UN General Assembly—representing the collective conscience and will of the international community—has a responsibility to take the steps necessary to ensure the digital domain is universal, safe, meaningful, and trustworthy so it can promote social and economic progress for all.

As you usher in the historic 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, we urge you to make digital trust and security a central pillar of your presidency. We commend the historic achievement of the Declaration on the Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations. For the first time, all member states committed to improve digital cooperation and ensure safe and affordable digital access for all citizens. Progress must not stop there. At a time of crisis, it is essential that the world steps up efforts in this space, not least to support the development and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals, an endeavour on which the role of digital technology is fundamental.

We call on your leadership therefore to advance the digital agenda, and we call on all member states to reinforce and expand upon these commitments in a global statement on digital trust and security as called for by the Secretary-General in his Roadmap for Digital Cooperation. Our daily lives, economic prosperity, security, and social progress hinge on a safe and secure digital environment that is affordable, accessible, and reliable. ICTs increasingly underpin access to nearly all essential services, including food, water, energy, and healthcare, as well as critical government functions, such as issuing identification and conducting elections. This statement would send a clear signal that world leaders in government, industry, and civil society are committed to closing the trust deficit in the digital age, bridging the digital divides, promoting digital rights and equality and securing progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Prioritizing digital trust and security will provide more visibility and energy to the UN processes already underway aimed at advancing a rules-based digital order, including the Group of Governmental Experts in the Field of Information and Telecommunications and the Open-Ended Working Group. We eagerly await the results of their work and hope to support their efforts to advance global cyber norms. As those and other processes advance, we encourage leadership at the United Nations to abide by the language in the 75th anniversary declaration to “provide a platform for all stakeholders to participate in such deliberations.”

We must learn from the lessons of history not to let one crisis breed another. Progress towards a safe, open, and secure cyberspace is needed now more than ever to meet and surmount the challenges we face. Civil society, technical communities, Think tanks,  industry and eminent digital personalities have found common ground on the need for global action on digital trust and security. Surely governments can join our call, endorse a global statement, and ensure a safe and secure digital future for everybody.

In his Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, the Secretary General makes clear that “future generations will judge whether the present generation seized the opportunities presented by the age of digital interdependence.” The undersigned organizations stand willing to join governments and other stakeholders to advance this global imperative. Together, we can deliver a digital future that is safe, secure, and inclusive.


  • President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil
  • President Ricardo Lagos, former President of Chile
  • Secretary Madeleine Albright, Former Secretary of State, United States
  • Daniel Mitov, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bulgaria
  • Susana Malcorra, Former Foreign Minister of Argentina
  • Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, United States
  • Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Founder, Web Foundation; CTO, Inrupt
  • Carl Bildt, Co-Chair European Council on Foreign Relations
  • Hina Jilani, The Elders
  • Margaret Chan, Former Director-General, World Health Organization
  • Julian King, former EU Commissioner for the Security Union
  • Andrus Ansip, Member of the European Parliament and former European Commissioner for Digital
  • Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman, Munich Security Conference
  • Edson Prestes, Member, HLP on Digital Cooperation, Brazil
  • Marina Kaljurand, Member, HLP on Digital Cooperation, Estonia
  • Akaliza Keza Ntwari, Member, HLP on Digital Cooperation, Rwanda



  • Access Smart, LLC
  • Advocacy Initiative for Development (AID)
  • African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms Coalition (AfDec)
  • African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX)
  • AfricTivistes
  • Afrotribune
  • Alliance for Affordable Internet
  • Alliance for Peacebuilding
  • Association for Progressive Communications – APC
  • Association of European Journalists (AEJ)
  • Association of European Journalists-Belgium vzw
  • Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio & Communication(BNNRC)
  • Campaign for Human Rights and Development International CHRDI, in Sierra Leone
  • Carnegie UK Trust
  • Centre for Digital Development
  • Centre for Multilateral Affairs (CfMA)
  • CloudFactors LLC
  • Convene North
  • CREOpoint
  • Cyber Policy Institute
  • CyberPeace Institute
  • Cybersecurity Tech Accord
  • Digital Peace Now
  • EastWest Institute
  • Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center
  • Emonyo Yefwe International.
  • F-Secure Corporation
  • Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul
  • Finnish Information Security Cluster (FISC)
  • Foundlings with Living Parents Foundation
  • Free Expression Myanmar (FEM)
  • Free Media Movement
  • Future of Life Institute
  • GitHub
  • Global Cyber Alliance
  • Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
  • Global Open Data initiative for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN)
  • Global Partners Digital
  • Inidev International
  • Instituto Nupef
  • Internet Protection Society
  • L’Association Francophone pour les Droits de l’Homme
  • LEADx Change
  • League for Societal protection against drug abuse (LESPADA)
  • Liberia Information Technology Student Union
  • Lie Detectors
  • Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
  • Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe Chapter
  • Media Rights Agenda
  • Microsoft
  • Netfreedom Pioneers
  • Nigeria Network of NGOs
  • Northwave
  • Organization of the Justice Campaign
  • Paradigm Initiative
  • Rainier Communications
  • Red Dot Foundation
  • RNW Media
  • Simply Secure
  • Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet)
  • TdChix
  • The Global Forum on Cyber Expertise Foundation
  • The Kosciuszko Institute
  • WISeKey SA
  • Women in Crisis Response
  • World Wide Web Foundation