The Sydney Declaration: ASEAN and Australia commit to cooperate on cybersecurity and digital trade issues

By Cameron Abbott and Keely O’Dowd

Over the weekend our closest neighbours agreed to greater cooperation on cyber security. The Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Secretary-General of ASEAN and Australian leaders met in Sydney to strengthen the ASEAN-Australia relationship. The leaders discussed issues of regional importance.

Cybercrime and cybersecurity were key topics discussed at the Summit. Australia and the ASEAN Member States committed to deepen their cooperation on cyber security and digital trade issues. The leaders recognised the importance of cooperation between countries in the region “to promote an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT environment” in a joint statement titled The Sydney Declaration (signed 18 March 2018).

The ASEAN-Australia Summit and The Sydney Declaration signals that the leaders of the Australia-Asian region recognise that cyber issues must be tackled at an international level and countries must work together to promote peace and stability in cyberspace, as well as, to combat and guard against threats. Without a co-ordinated, internationally focused effort, countries will struggle to successfully protect its critical infrastructure and digital assets from cyber criminals and terrorists from within and outside its borders in a digitally connected global economy.

While declarations like this are necessarily general in nature, there is no doubt that more needs to be done to combat cyber attacks and this is a first step to improving that cooperation.

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