The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace was launched in 2018 by French President Emmanuel Macron with the goal of promoting a multi-stakeholder, multilateral solution to improve trust, security, and stability in cyberspace. When this public call for global action was made in 2018, the US did not answer it. But this past month, the Biden administration changed the US position when Vice President Kamala Harris endorsed the Paris Call in person during a meeting with Macron.

Cybercrime costs the US and Europe billions of dollars per year and generates trillions in profits for criminals. Cybercrime was front-page news after an attack derailed critical American infrastructure earlier this year; the Paris Call specifically calls out this type of activity as contrary to the international document’s guidance for global security. It specifically calls out “indiscriminate or systemic harm to individuals and critical infrastructure,” which would include shutting down an electric grid.

Unsurprisingly, the US government has been trying for some time to find a range of solutions to deter malign cyber actors through bilateral and multilateral channels. By answering the Paris Call, the US will now participate in collaborative efforts to combat cybercrime and “make cyberspace a free, secure, and open place.” But is this the ultimate solution to America’s cyber woes?

While the Paris Call represents a symbolic step in the right direction, its aims are limited in scope. The Paris Call has been framed as a nonbinding declaration full of nice ideas — namely, that we should work together to tackle new threats; agree to the fundamental rights and principles the United Nations (UN) pledges its member governments to (but in cyberspace); protect the internet, individuals, and infrastructure from harm; defend electoral processes; prevent retaliatory hacks; strengthen international norms; and — where corporations were very eager to sign on — defend intellectual property.

For the Biden administration, this effort falls squarely into its stated priority of renewing the transatlantic relationship and strengthening America’s engagement with the international community on cyber issues. The declaration has joint support from the European Union’s 27 member states and now the US. Encouraging collaboration in the Paris Call appears to be in everyone’s best interest, so why is it unlikely that this document will make a major difference in the cybersecurity challenge?

First, this is a nonbinding agreement that lacks a supranational authority to enforce international legal obligations. Regardless, we should perceive it as a coordination platform on which states and nonstate actors can communicate their cybersecurity needs and make security of digital assets a top priority.

Second, although some countries have refused to support the Paris Call, major tech companies including Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, International Business Machines, Microsoft, and even Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab have joined because they see an opportunity to limit risk liability through a multi-stakeholder set of agreements on international cyber norms — that include nation-states — to deter cybercrime, espionage, data theft, and attacks against individuals and infrastructure.

Third, without the support of countries such as China, Iran, or Russia — notorious for their malign behaviors in cyberspace — the Paris Call might become another instance of democratic states preaching to the choir.

Fourth, and finally, the Paris Call is open to all states, but China and Russia refused to join it because it promotes human rights on the internet and promises to counter election hacking. Instead, Russia (with China’s support) is leading the UN Open-Ended Working Group’s cybersecurity proceedings. Russia has since used this body to further its favored positions on cyber issues — especially “cyber sovereignty.” As negotiations on the global cybercrime treaty will continue at the UN in 2022, Russia will compel its friends to support its agenda in UN subcommittees with the help of China, with whom it has repeatedly affirmed shared autocrat-friendly values for cyberspace.

Cyber threats aren’t going away. If the Paris Call can be a catalyst to improve cybersecurity for individuals, businesses, and nation-states, it’s at least a starting point for establishing real security norms. The Paris Call’s aims are undoubtedly laudable, but we should not be overly idealistic and treat it as a panacea for all global cybersecurity problems. Instead, we should be realistic and perceive it as a diplomatic document and convenient platform for furthering negotiations and understanding different cybersecurity needs among different stakeholders.

As China and Russia continue to hijack UN processes to further their favored cybersecurity positions with the goal of drafting a new global treaty, the US should use the admittedly flawed Paris Call to promote trust and security in cyberspace through strengthening transatlantic tech relations and developing a coalition of the willing to counter the Sino-Russian cybersecurity coup that is building momentum at the UN.