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International Law at NATO’s Brussels Summit

The June 2021 NATO summit in Brussels was noteworthy for the U.S. renewal of its commitment to the Alliance. Speaking with Secretary-General Stoltenberg, President Biden reassured NATO members (the “Allies”) that “NATO is critically important for U.S. interests” and “Article 5, we take as a sacred obligation.” Also noteworthy was the extent to which NATO pointed to Russia and China as adversaries in the final communiqué issued by the 30 NATO Heads of State and Government.  Commentary on the summit, however, generally overlooked international law’s place of prominence in the agreement reached by the Allies. Brussels 2021 was perhaps the NATO summit at which international law came of age in the Alliance’s strategic calculations. Indeed, in Brussels, the Allies confirmed that NATO serves, inter alia, to guarantee shared values, including human rights and the rule of law. Worryingly, they also concluded that both State and non-State actors are challenging the “rules-based international order.” This post examines the consensus reflected in the communiqué on three key international law issues…

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The Oxford Statement on International Law Protections in Cyberspace: The Regulation of Information Operations and Activities

The Internet has allowed the dissemination of content across the globe in a matter of seconds. Recommendation algorithms, found in social media platforms and search engines, have also dangerously amplified the reach of false, misleading, and violent content (see here, here, and here). Because they are geared towards…

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Even ‘cyber wars’ have limits. But what if they didn’t?

In today’s digitalizing world, States and non-State armed groups increasingly employ cyber capabilities in their military operations, and their use is likely to grow. Still, there is a debate – most prominently in the framework of the two multilateral processes under the auspices of the United Nations – as to how the existing international legal frameworks apply to…

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Protecting Societies – Anchoring a new protection dimension in international law during armed conflict: An agenda for discussion

Adversarial military cyber operations carried out during armed conflict can affect the functioning of civilian societies in unprecedented ways, challenging the protective reach of international humanitarian law (IHL). In light of this, we argue for a recognition of new protection needs to shield critical societal processes from military cyber threats in situations of armed conflict. A…

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Old Habits Die Hard: Applying Existing International Law in Cyberspace and Beyond

In the past few years, a growing number of states have expressed their official positions on the applicability of international law in cyberspace. Most recently, New Zealand and Israel shared their own views on the topic to beef up the crowd. Initiatives of this kind are welcome and contribute to the gradual clarification of the extent…

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