2022 Global Ties U.S. National Meeting Addresses Cyber Defense, U.S. Infrastructure

Lylian Pagan
Staff Writer

The 2022 hybrid Global Ties National Meeting was held in Arlington, VA. From March 16 -19, members of the United States State Department and the Global Ties community discussed the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) pivot in 2020-2021 towards online exchange.  In addition, members of the State Departments’ cyber defense and diversity, equity, and inclusion tasks forces spoke about what each department is doing to protect the United States’s infrastructure and President Biden’s Executive Order 13985. 

Global Ties is a nonprofit partner of the U.S. Department of State. The organization has supported community-based networks of nonprofit organizations that implement international exchange programs since 1961. The goal of Global Ties IVLP is to connect future leaders in developing countries with experts in all fifty states of the U.S. Every year, approximately 5,000 IVLP come to the U.S. through its exchange program. Global Ties partners are categorized as Community-Based Members, the National Program Agency based in D.C., and the Office of the International Visitors within the State Department, which works closely with the private sector. Each agency provides international visitors with the necessary knowledge and information to succeed as future entrepreneurs, journalists, or leaders. The IVLP helps advance U.S. policies, peace, and prosperity through global exchange. 

Global Ties was the vision of President Kennedy’s administration in 1961. International exchange creates a “foundation for cooperation, respect, and social trust between leaders in government, business, and civil society.” The overarching theme was the successful impact IVLP had despite the pandemic. The IVLP reached more people online than in its 60 years of in-person international exchange on a global stage. Following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the main focus of the IVLP for 2022 was to return to in-person engagement.

The State Department’s Bureau of Diplomacy Security cyber defense task force discussed international cyber issues. To help combat the cyber threat posed by China, Russia, and North Korea  to the U.S. and its allies, the U.S joined the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, also called the “Paris Norm.”  It is based on nine principles to encourage cooperation between different countries’ governments and their private sectors to enhance cyber security. For the U.S., cybersecurity is about protecting information. In “authoritarian countries, cybersecurity is about the governance of human behavior in cyberspace,” said Liesyl Franz, the Acting Deputy Coordinator of the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues. China’s cyber network has grown exponentially in the past decade. Samuel Visner, a Technical Fellow of MITRE Corporation, stated that “the United States is now waking up to this [development]. We are now trying to develop the norms in cyberspace that have been strained.” 

The U.S. State Department is now engaging in cyber diplomacy with its international partners. Since 2011, the Office of the Coordination for Cyber issues has handled the international affairs of cyber defense and diplomatic affairs. Over 10 years, the office has greatly expanded, and the State Department is now in the process of creating a new bureau. 

Domestically, sixteen critical infrastructure agencies protect the U.S. cyberspace, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Security Agency (NSA), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Computer Emergency Readiness Team(CERT) domestically. 

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion presented a plan for advancing equity and racial justice within the government. President Biden’s Executive Order 13985 directed federal agencies to take a comprehensive approach to pursue equity for all individuals. Specifically, the order prioritizes people of color and those who have been historically underserved. The executive order established that civil rights, promoting equity, racial justice, and equal opportunity are the responsibility of the entire U.S. Government. One of the most prominent issues that the EO hopes to address is the misconception that democracies no longer serve the people in the United States. However, the State Department is not only concentrating on advancing civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunities in the U.S. but also in countries where authoritarian regimes are threatening democracies. 

The conference also offered workshops on self-care, effective adult learning, critical thinking, and challenging beliefs. Overall, the 2022 Global Ties US National Meeting was successful in bringing together nonprofit organizations and state officials to share ideas and information about making the International Visitor Leadership Program even more successful.

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