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ECOWAS Hosts Cyber Diplomacy Workshop to Enhance Digital Security

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Ecowas Cyber Diplomacy Simulation June
Ecowas Cyber Diplomacy Simulation June

From June 5th to 7th, 2024, the ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with the German Federal Foreign Office, the European Union, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the Diplo Foundation, hosted a cyber diplomacy simulation workshop in Accra, Ghana.

This event brought together representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of ECOWAS Member States to bolster their understanding and capabilities in cyber diplomacy.

The workshop is a pivotal extension of the “Joint Platform for Advancing Cyber Security in West Africa” initiative. Its primary objective is to deepen participants’ comprehension of critical cyber-related issues and processes, which are essential for international peace and security, while enhancing their cyber diplomacy skills. The simulation included exercises focused on the application of international law in cyberspace, norms, confidence-building measures, and capacity building, all anchored around the United Nations’ “Negotiations of the Open-Ended Working Group on Security of and in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies 2021–2025.”

In his address, Ambassador Baba Gana Wakil, the Resident Representative of ECOWAS in Ghana, on behalf of Mr. Sédiko Douka, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy, and Digitalisation, underscored the critical importance of cyber diplomacy in today’s interconnected world. He highlighted that the rapid digital transformation in the region and the transnational nature of cyber threats necessitate collaboration among ECOWAS Member States. Cyber diplomacy, he noted, allows diplomats to form alliances, share threat intelligence, and strategize collectively to defend against cyberattacks. By engaging in international dialogues, ECOWAS can shape global cyber policies, ensuring a secure and equitable digital future. He concluded by reaffirming ECOWAS’s commitment to safeguarding nations, promoting economic interests, and fostering global cooperation through cyber diplomacy.

H.E. Sivine Jansen, Deputy Head of Mission at the German Embassy, representing the German Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana, emphasized the increasing complexity of cybersecurity challenges and the necessity for diplomats to continuously update their negotiating skills and cybersecurity knowledge. She pointed out that the workshop aimed to bridge gaps, build trust, and empower diplomats to influence the emerging regional and global cybersecurity agenda. Participants were encouraged to disseminate their newly acquired knowledge to their national and regional colleagues. As cyber and digital issues gain prominence in foreign affairs, this training equips diplomats to play a crucial role in addressing cybersecurity challenges. Jansen stressed the need for unity in enhancing cyber capabilities, enabling West Africa to make significant contributions to global cybersecurity discussions.

The simulation exercises were led by Mr. Ljupčo Gjorgjinski, Senior Fellow for Science and Technology Diplomacy with the Diplo Foundation and former Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWS) under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).

The workshop concluded with a call for a united effort in addressing cybersecurity challenges, paving the way for a more secure and interconnected ECOWAS region.

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