Liis Vihul is the Tallinn Manual Project Manager, NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, Tallinn, Estonia.
Although scholars began to assess how international law applies in the cyber context during the late 1990s, it was not until the 2007 cyber operations directed at Estonia that the international community became fully sensitised to the subject. For the first time, it became publicly clear that cyber operations are a powerful tool for conveying political or strategic messages by States, non-State groups and individual hackers. The operations also made the international community aware of how cyber operations could be used to dramatically disrupt life in a country.
The incidents led in part to the establishment of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (NATO CCD COE), an international military organisation located in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. The Centre is a partnership between eleven States.
In late 2009, NATO CCD COE invited a group of twenty international law scholars and operational legal advisers (the International Group of Experts), under the directorship of Professor Michael Schmitt of the United States Naval War College, to conduct a three year research project examining the norms applicable during cyber warfare. The product of this effort is the “Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare”, published in March by Cambridge University Press.