The UN Group of Friends on e-governance and cybersecurity: Remarks by Ambassador Andrejs Pildegovics of the Republic of Latvia to the UN 11.02.2019

04.11.2019. 11:26

Distinguished excellences, dear colleagues and cyber experts!

·       We thank both co-chairs of the group – Estonia and Singapore – for helping us to organize today’s event and we hope to have an interesting and stimulating discussion!

·       Latvia was delighted to become the 32nd Member State of the Group of Friends on E-governance and cybersecurity. The family has grown bigger.

·       Let me first start by putting my remarks in a context: Latvia is a small country (only twice as big as Belgium) with population of 2M (in other words – Paris intra muros).


·       Latvia has one of the highest speed affordable Internet, 81% of population use Internet which is equally distributed between women and men),

·       27 fixed broadband subscription per 100residents, 126 mobile subscriptions per 100residents;.

·       70% of population interact with public authorities online

·       Average annual ICT export growth is 15%.

·       For the last two years, company “Tilde” from Latvia has won the Conference of Machine Translation (often referred to as the Olympics for machine translation tools) beating competitors such as Google and Microsoft.

·       According to the latest publication of Estonia’s e-Governance Academy Latvia has scored 72 out of the maximum 100 points based on various digital security aspects and therefore holds the 12th place in the National Cyber Security Index[1].

This is not the first multi-stakeholder initiative that Latvia has actively contributed to. Latvia was at the helm of the Preparatory Committee of the 2005 Tunis phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) .

Latvia has been involved in the follow-up processes of the WSIS by serving continuously as a member of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) since 2007.  Latvia has become almost like a permanent member of CSTD.

From 2007 to 2010, Latvia was the Chair of the Government Advisory Committee of ICANN and in past 3 years chairs the Council of the Country Code Name Support Organization of ICANN[2].

In 2015, Latvia was co-facilitating intergovernmental negotiations on the outcome of the overall review by the GA on the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS+10).

Four years ago, Latvia joined the ranks of Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE), a platform that we are using for further promotion of responsible disclosure policy.

As for today’s topic, let me quote the speech of the UN SG delivered on his priorities for 2019 where he said: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution continues to open new possibilities for health care, education, humanitarian assistance and much else.  But alongside these benefits, we must address the disruption of labour markets, the weaponization of artificial intelligence and the heinous activities on the dark web” (end of quote). SG has also reflected on the recent social media campaign regarding migration that had had a negative effect prior to the Summit in Marrakesh.

We can only agree that with technological development our lives have become easier, our economies richer, and our people and nations – more interconnected and accessible. We all enjoy benefits of open and free cyberspace where businesses and innovations are developed, fundamental rights and freedoms are protected. Digital technologies make a significant contribution to the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development.

But in the same time and despite many opportunities for our societies and economies, development of information technologies and digitalization also make us more vulnerable.

Cyber-security has become one of the core security policy concerns globally, with security challenges to information space, economic performance, critical infrastructure and democratic political process. including elections, NGO’s, free media and civil society.

It is first and foremost a national responsibility to develop such    capabilities. Concerted efforts are required of governments, industry, business, academia, technical community and civil society. Digital challenges can be addressed only through a multi-stakeholder cooperation.

In Latvia, we are starting with our youngest generation. Recently Ministry of Culture of Latvia published a new book educating children about critical thinking and growing resilience against disinformation[3] by underlining that things are not always what they seem.  The idea to publish such a book was based on the study from 2017 when only 40 % of respondents confirmed that they could recognize if the information provided was true or false.

As no single nation, institution or group is responsible for the digital domain, strengthening cyber-security and boosting resilience also demands commitment beyond national efforts.

Regional and international cooperation allows for sharing know-how and experience as well as developing cyber-security capabilities.

Cyber-security and defence are inseparable from wider debate on internet governance – freedoms, norms, rules, international law and good governance online.

Open, free, inclusive and secure cyberspace must remain our strong commitment and it’s up to us to ensure that laws and norms applied in other areas of our day-to-day lives are just as relevant in the cyber domain.

We recognize the role of the UN in furthering discussions on responsible state behavior in cyberspace. Latvia fully supports the High level Panel on Digital cooperation. We also believe that the UN can help to promote additional common understanding on State behavior in cyberspace. Therefore, and taking into account Latvia’s expertise, we are willing to contribute to the work of this group by sharing our best practices.

Now I would like to give the floor to our lead panellist – Director of the NATO certified, NATO affiliated Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga – Mr. Jānis Sārts. The NATO Strategic Communication CoE was established in 2013 with task to study how information can be instrumentalized for non-civilian aims. The work of the Centre, nevertheless, provides wealth of knowledge that could and should be used for civilian purposes. I hope that Mr Sārts will tell you more about the Centre of Excellence that he heads since 2015.


[1] The National Cyber Security Index, developed by Estonia's e-Governance Academy, is a global index, which measures the preparedness of countries to prevent cyber threats and manage cyber incidents. The NCSI is also a database with publicly available evidence materials and a tool for national cyber security capacity building.

[2] ICANN - The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is a nonprofit organization responsible for coordinating the maintenance and procedures of several databases related to the namespaces and numerical spaces of the Internet, ensuring the network's stable and secure operation. The Government Advisory Committee (GAC) serves as the voice of Governments and International Governmental Organizations in ICANN's multi-stakeholders representative structure. ccNSO represent interest of country code domain operators (like .lv, .ee, .lt)

[3] “CAPS un CIET jeb Vilks manipulators” –