EJIL Analysis

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When More is Less: The US Department of Defense’s Statement on Cyberspace

On 2 March 2020 Paul Ney, General Counsel to the US Department of Defense (DoD), gave a speech at the US Cyber Command Legal Conference setting out the DoD’s position on the application of national and international law to cyberspace. Robert Chesney (at Lawfare) and Michael Schmitt (at Just Security) have provided a panoramic assessment of the legal issues arising from this statement. This post focuses on one particular aspect of the DoD’s statement: its treatment of the rule of sovereignty under international law. Two questions are addressed: does the DoD view sovereignty as a rule of international law applicable to cyberspace and, if so, what types of malicious cyber activity does the DoD regard this rule as prohibiting. The Rule of Sovereignty In May 2018, the UK Attorney General took the position that sovereignty is not a stand-alone rule of international law. For the UK, it is only those cyber operations that rise to the level of coercive intervention or a use of force that are internationally…

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COVID-19 as a Threat to International Peace and Security: What place for the UN Security Council?

  The rapid spread of COVID-19 and actions to contain the virus have understandably drawn parallels with previous outbreaks, in particular that of Ebola in West Africa in 2014 and of the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 which also arose in China but affected Hong Kong more severely. While the SARS outbreak…

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Epidemic Sovereignty? Contesting investment treaty claims arising from coronavirus measures

  Though nothing can be immortall, which mortals make; yet, if men had the use of reason they pretend to, their Common-wealths might be secured, at least, from perishing by internall diseases. Hobbes, Leviathan (1651). My morning radio plays a hit parade of measures adopted by various States to combat the pandemic spread of…

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Calibrating Human Rights and Necessity in a Global Public Health Emergency: Revive the UN OHCHR’s ICESCR Compliance Criteria

COVID-19 has reached every continent, every region, and almost all countries in the world. Most of us are either in quarantine, sheltering in place, in hospitals fighting for lives, in the front lines of depleting health care resources in the developed and developing world, or attempting some semblance of life (e.g. transplanting…

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Part III: Due Diligence and COVID-19: States’ Duties to Prevent and Halt the Coronavirus Outbreak

  In Parts I and II of this blog post, we presented some of the most relevant international obligations to prevent and halt the COVID-19 outbreak, and to mitigate its disastrous effects on peoples’ lives and the functioning of our society. Part III, in their light, assesses some of the measures States have adopted…

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