The Cyberspace 'Great Game'. The Five Eyes, the Sino-Russian Bloc and the Growing Competition to Shape Global Cyberspace Norms

Nikola Pijovic

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    The development of global norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace has, over the past decade, become a significant foreign policy issue and a new battleground between states. The contested and competitive nature of global cyberspace norm building suggests that although there are complicated legal and technical issues at play, the development of cyberspace norms remains primarily a contestation of values, ideologies, and strategic interests. This paper argues that the competition to shape the governance of cyberspace through the development of cyberspace norms represents a continuation of foreign and strategic policy applied to the cyber domain. This has resulted in a growing cyberspace 'Great Game' between the Five Eyes alliance countries (the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand) and the Sino-Russian bloc (China and Russia). The Five Eyes and the Sino-Russian bloc are key cyber powers and cyberspace norm entrepreneurs whose leadership is instrumental in promoting global cyberspace norm preferences. However, each camp advocates a set of norm preferences inherently at odds with the other's, which has resulted in growing competition for dominance in cyberspace norm prescription and promotion. The paper outlines the key cyberspace norm proposals and initiatives promoted by the Five Eyes and the Sino-Russian bloc, discussing their main differences. It argues that the latest round (2019-2021) of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Advancing Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace (UNGGE) deliberations is unlikely to help bridge these differences in any substantive way. The cyberspace 'Great Game' and the increasingly competitivenature of cyberspace norm development will remain a feature of global efforts to govern cyberspace throughout the 2020s.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2021
    Event2021 13th International Conference on Cyber Conflict (CyCon) - Tallinn, Estonia
    Duration: 1 Jan 2021 → …


    Conference2021 13th International Conference on Cyber Conflict (CyCon)
    Period1/01/21 → …

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