Back Closing of Octopus Conference on Cybercrime

As delivered by Bjørn Berge, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe


Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

Dear distinguished former Ambassadors to the Council of Europe, Sabin and Gheorghe,

Distinguished guests,

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,


It is a great pleasure to be here today –

At the close of this important Conference.

Opinion polls show that a high percentage of people across the world have been victims of cybercrime –

That clear majorities of citizens fear it –

And that most business leaders believe that the rise of generative Artificial Intelligence will leave their companies even more vulnerable to it.

And at the same time, from election interference to attacks against critical infrastructure: cybercrime affects the core values and institutions of our democratic societies –

And new technology is developing at an astonishing speed.

Our challenge is to keep up –

And even to be ahead of the curve.

And all of you together – present here today – are central to achieving that.

I understand that there are around 500 cybercrime experts here in Bucharest from more than 100 countries around the world.

This is an extraordinary achievement, and a testament not only to your commitment –

But also to the relevance of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime.

A Convention that is providing its parties with the means to tackle online crime within their own jurisdiction and by working together.

It now has 69 state parties from around the world –

With Brazil, Nigeria and Cameroon the most recent to join –

A further 23 states that are committed to doing so –

And a record of more than 130 countries – around two-thirds of the world’s total – having aligned their legislation with its provisions – so far.

Key to the success of this Convention is the fact that its provisions are robust, adaptable and technology-neutral.

But we have also moved forward, and the first Additional Protocol to the Convention also tackled xenophobia and racism in computer systems, among other things.

But, most importantly, the second Protocol opens new routes for co-operation and will help us disclose electronic evidence –

Often cross-border –

And relating to crimes that are both online and offline.

With this, the reach of justice extends its long arm, while making sure we respect and safeguard human rights and the rule of law.

Opened only last year, the second Protocol already has over 40 signatures – and I know another two states – Japan and Serbia – have completed the ratification process. I hope that we will now quickly reach the threshold of five ratifications required to bring it into force.

Indeed, I hope that all of you will impress upon your national authorities the added value of signing and ratifying.

Dear friends,

But the success of this system is of course not merely about the standards that we have set, but its actual implementation –

Also the follow-up monitoring and assessments carried out by the Cybercrime Convention Committee is important, as well as the support that it provides to its 91 parties and observer states.

Not to mention, the expertise, training and capacity-building co-operation organised from here in Bucharest –

By C-PROC, the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Programme Office.

Given that this is the Office’s tenth anniversary, I want to take this opportunity to thank you and pay special tribute to the Programme Office’s important work.

C-PROC was, as some of you will remember, established following a 2013 United Nations meeting where participants rightly concluded that capacity building is crucial to combatting cybercrime around the world.

A discussion followed on how we could best help to achieve that –

And soon thereafter the Romanian Government offered to host a Programme Office – offering this kind of advice and support – here in its country’s capital.

It was a generous offer and inspiring move.

And since the Office opened nearly a decade ago, it has in many ways gone from strength to strength.

With around 40 staff members, it has helped bring together a wide range of expertise to provide the activities and training needed by authorities around the world.

And if you look, the numbers are truly impressive –

Since 2014, C-PROC has supported more than 2000 activities involving more than 130 countries – including the active training of investigators, prosecutors and judges, which continues to this day.

A new online platform for judicial training has now been made available as well –

A new phase of the Global Action on Cybercrime, a joint project with the European Union, will support countries to take even more extensive measures, and there is close co-operation with Europol, Eurojust, Interpol and many other organisations.

Actually, there is a range of new programmes that many have referred to at this conference.

Programmes that will help us tackle election interference, ransomware attacks, crypto-currency crimes, and threats posed by new technologies, and to freedom of expression.

Today, I believe that it is also right to recognise the recent training and advice that C-PROC has given to Ukraine –

So, that its authorities can make best use of electronic evidence and open-source intelligence in their investigation and prosecution of the war crimes caused Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Securing this evidence is a vital contribution to help ensure the accountability on which any just and sustainable peace must be built.

Dear friends,

And you might know this, but it is one thing to have good plans and activities, but you also need to finance them.

In this regard, it is reassuring that C-PROC remains very attractive to donors –

With some 60 million euros invested in capacity building activities over the past decade –

Including substantial and generous donations from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, the United States, the European Union and others.

And their investments continue to pay dividends.

I can only encourage governments and organisations to maintain that support.

Today, it is vital that we come together and share experiences, as well as discuss future action.

As we fight cybercrime in all its forms.

I hope that after the conference you will go home inspired.

And I want to thank in particular the Romanian authorities for hosting this conference and its firm long-standing commitment to fight cybercrime.

From its work on the Cybercrime Convention Committee, chaired by Ms Cristina Schulman, during the negotiation of the second Protocol –

To the active participation of experts from its Ministry of Justice, its Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism and its National Police –

Including as seconded experts to the Council of Europe –

But it is by providing the premises for C-PROC that it is making perhaps its biggest impact, and helping us focus on concrete activities on the ground.

But let me at the end also thank all of you present here today – be it government officials, experts, representation of civil society, media or others.


Thank you again for your insights, for sharing your ideas and experiences.

Thank you for your co-operation.

I wish you all the best.

​​​​Bucharest 15 December 2023
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