High-Level Meeting in New York on Cyberattack and Illegal Measures against Qatar

The Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the United Nations in New York held a high-level meeting on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

The meeting, which was organized under the title “from cyberattack to illegal measures: the blockade against the State of Qatar”, coincided with more than three months after the Gulf crisis started, and highlighted the impact of the crisis and its multifaceted repercussions on the countries concerned, the region and the world.

The first session, which was moderated by HE Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister for Combating Terrorism Dr Mutlaq bin Majid Al Qahtani, reviewed the events that affected the State of Qatar since the cyberattack on Qatar News Agency on May 24 and the publication of false statements attributed to HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

In a speech during the session, HE Attorney General Dr Ali bin Fetais Al Marri said that cyber security and piracy are one of big and dangerous crimes that threaten international peace and security, stressing that false news as well as piracy for political purposes should not be left to technical experts who deal with information technology.

He pointed out that the issue is of great concern to the international community, stressing that States should deal with this phenomenon and should resort to taking measures not only ban and punish organizations and individuals involved in piracy for political or personal gain but also treat them as the main source of threat to international peace and security.

His Excellency also urged the international community to ban information obtained through piracy, to prevent it from having any legal value or to be used as a basis for evidence, adding that concerned or affected States should consult in a mutual manner and negotiate issues arising from such piracy before deciding on any further steps in accordance with international law.

He referred to the crisis created by the siege countries on 5 June 2017 when they announced their unprecedented measures to attack the sovereignty and independence of the State of Qatar with a view to strangling it economically and politically based on misleading grounds.

“This was a turning point in the events we, in Qatar, did not expect it, but we were able to deal with it and overcome the obstacles created by these sudden actions to ensure the continuity of normal daily life,” he said.

His Excellency added that it is certain that no member of the United Nations has expected what has happened. Such issues, if found, should have been dealt with at the bilateral level or at the very least through the GCC, namely at the regional level. HE Al Marri pointed to illegal measures imposed by the siege countries, which included the complete closure of the only land border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the only international trade route used by Qatar for a long time.

He drew attention to the orders issued by the siege countries to expel Qatari citizens residing legally in the territories of the three countries, forcing them to return to Qatar and leave their businesses and homes and abandon their livestock and other assets. Qatar Airways was also severely restricted and denied access to their airspaces including the normal right to transit, which is an indisputable right under international law, he added.

He the Attorney General warned against the continuation of this crisis, which he described as serious, stressing that this crisis would affect the Gulf region.

He the Attorney General also stressed that any accusations that the State of Qatar supports and funds terrorist groups and persons associated with them in the absence of any clear evidence are still completely political and have no legal basis.

He explained that any claim that Qatar interferes in the internal affairs of its neighbors requires a proof that is consistent and proves a very close link between the accused of actual participation in destabilizing their regimes and the State of Qatar.

His Excellency also stressed that unilateral sanctions imposed by the siege countries on Qatar were serious violations of international law because they were not evidence-based facts and not legally acceptable evidence. He explained that the international law demanded that, prior to the imposition of any countermeasures, countries accused of committing irregularities be granted enough time and opportunity to defend its position, and this what was ignored by those who did what happened on June 5 blatantly and recklessly.

HE the Attorney General stressed the determination of the State of Qatar to settle the dispute on the basis of international law, peace and justice, adding that Qatar was committed to the settlement of disputes by peaceful means. He noted the repeated call by the State of Qatar for cooperation to engage in genuine dialogue with the siege countries either through the traditional framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council or through other mediators accepted by the two sides. He pointed out that no positive response has been received from the siege countries.

For his part, David Scheffer, a former US ambassador, professor of law and Director of the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern Pritzker College in Chicago, called for the inclusion of piracy and cyberattacks in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as one of the crimes that violate human rights and the Charter of the United Nations. “We must not ignore the facts faced by the State of Qatar represented in the economic blockade as a result of cyberattack and piracy.”

He also called on the Security Council to adopt a resolution against piracy and cyberattacks as amounting to a violation of human rights and the Charter of the United Nations and a threat to international peace and security.

The participants reviewed the illegal and unilateral measures taken by the siege countries against the State of Qatar through the use of blockade, cyberattacks and piracy as tools of revenge.

The participants considered that such actions constituted a threat to international peace and security, stressing that ignoring the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes, ignoring the rule of law and disrupting natural discourse were factors that threatened regional security and peace and further destabilized the region.

The meeting was attended by prominent figures and international law experts along with e-security, policy and communication law specialists. It focused on the legality of the siege and the threat posed by cyberattacks and piracy to international peace and security.

Among the most prominent participants were HE Attorney General Dr Ali bin Fetais Al Marri, HE Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister for Combating Terrorism Dr Mutlaq bin Majid Al Qahtani, HE Director of International Cooperation at the Ministry of the Interior Major General Abdulaziz Al Ansari, and David Scheffer, former US Ambassador and Professor of Law.

Other participants include Prof Rodney Dixon, Professor of International Law, Public Law and Human Rights; Prof William Schabas, Professor of International Law at Middlesex University in London; Dr Mohammed Al Misfer, Professor of Political Science; Dr Majid Al Ansari, Professor of Political Sociology; Dr Reem Al Ansari, Professor of Law at Qatar University; Prof Michael Newton, Professor of the Practice of Law, Professor of the Practice of Political Science at Vanderbilt University; Prof Mark Vlasic, Senior Fellow, Institute for Law, Science & Global Security, Georgetown University; and Prof David Crane, Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs