The French Government on Monday said fifty-one states, including all EU members, have pledged their support for a new international agreement to set standards on cyberweapons and the use of the internet.
The states have signed up to a so-called “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace”, an attempt to kickstart stalled global negotiations.
China, Russia and the United States did not sign the pledge, reflecting their resistance to setting standards for cyberweapons which are at the cutting edge of modern warfare.
“We need norms to avoid a war in cyberspace which would be catastrophic,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday.
Campaigners have called for a “Digital Geneva Convention”, a reference to the Geneva conventions that set standards for the conduct of wars.
They want states to commit to not attacking infrastructure which is depended upon by civilians during wartime, for example.
A new international norm would also help define a state-backed cyberattack and when a state could be justified in retaliating.
Dozens of countries are thought to have developed offensive cyberweapons.
“We need to move these norms forward,” Microsoft president Brad Smith said on Monday at the Paris Peace Forum, being held to mark the centenary of the end of World War I.
In a presentation at the forum, Smith portrayed cyberweapons as having the potential to spark another mass conflict.