Australia to join the COE Cybercrime Convention

by Duncan Hollis

Australia’s government has announced that Australia will accede to the COE Cybercrime Convention (and not, as many are reporting that it will merely “sign” the Convention, which, I suppose, reflects the media’s continued inability or unwillingness to sort out the basic issues of treaty formation).  

With Australian accession, the COE Cybercrime Convention will have 27 states parties.  It remains the only cyber-specific multilateral treaty out there.  And prospects for a competitor appear (for the moment) unlikely.  Last month, U.N. talks failed to move forward on a global cybercrime treaty that Russia has been pushing, which would have different (some might say watered-down) transnational law enforcement provisions.  In contrast, parties to the COE Cybercrime Convention (which includes the United States) favor globalizing that instrument rather than starting negotiations anew on the world stage.   Thus, one might see the Australian accession as the latest salvo in the on-going fight over who should decide what rules governments will follow in defining and combatting cybercrime.  If that’s true, I think we can expect that Russia or a proxy will take a countervailing position in the near term, say for example, by renewing the push for a global treaty banning offensive cyberweapons?

One Response

  1. This is intriguing… How common is it for a CoE convention to be open to non-European States? Obviously not that common, given what this Cybercrime convention says about it:

    art. 36(1): This Convention shall be open for signature by the member States of the Council of Europe and by non-member States which have participated in its elaboration.

    art. 37(1): After the entry into force of this Convention, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, after consulting with and obtaining the unanimous consent of the Contracting States to the Convention, may invite any State which is not a member of the Council and which has not participated in its elaboration to accede to this Convention. The decision shall be taken by the majority provided for in Article 20.d. of the Statute of the Council of Europe and by the unanimous vote of the representatives of the Contracting States entitled to sit on the Committee of Ministers.

    This does seem to contemplate that, apart from the non-European states that were involved in the drafting, it will be unusual for such states to become parties. According to the CoE website, the following states were involved in the drafting: Canada (signed), Chile, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic (all didn’t sign), Japan (signed), Mexico and the Phillipines (didn’t sign), South Africa (signed) and the US (signed and ratified).

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