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The Oxford Statement on International Law Protections Against Foreign Electoral Interference through Digital Means

Election insecurity constitutes a dangerous global threat. Thirteen prominent intelligence experts stated, in a brief filed in U.S. federal court, that: “Over the last several years, evidence has emerged that Moscow has launched an aggressive series of active measure campaigns to interfere in elections and destabilize politics in Montenegro, Ukraine, Moldova, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia, Sweden, Austria, Italy, Poland and Hungary, to name just a few. They sought to inflame the issues of Catalonian independence and the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom.” Unfortunately, this is also not just a problem with one State; other States appear to have adopted similar tactics and tools, making foreign election interference a critical threat to the world’s democracies. In recent days, U.S. officials have, for example, accused Iran of posing as far-right U.S. citizen groups and sending threatening e-mails to U.S. voters about whether and how they should vote. Less than a week before the most consequential election in its modern history, United States electoral processes remain startlingly insecure. In August 2020, the US…

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Redistributing Punishment: The Limited Vision of Coercive Human Rights

In an eloquent blog post written in June 2020, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard acknowledged the structural racism and systemic injustice that breed the ‘state-sponsored racial violence’ which the brutal killing of George Floyd so painfully exemplified. She asked: what can we do — what must…

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Foreign Cyber Interference in Elections: An International Law Primer, Part III

Parts I and II of this series examined cyber election interference as an internationally wrongful act, looking at the two elements of attribution and breach, and in particular at the three sets of primary rules that election interference operations can violate: the prohibition of intervention, the obligation to respect sovereignty, and the duty to respect human rights. Now,…

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Foreign Cyber Interference in Elections: An International Law Primer, Part II

Part I of this series examined attribution as the first element of cyber election interference as an internationally wrongful act, and then looked at the prohibition of intervention as a possible primary rule that such interference can breach. Now, in Part II, I will examine the possible breaches of the obligation to respect sovereignty and of international human…

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Foreign Cyber Interference in Elections: An International Law Primer, Part I

With US elections looming, it is a propitious moment to examine the international law rules bearing on foreign interference in this fundamental expression of democracy. Sadly, little appears to have changed since the US intelligence community concluded with a “high degree of confidence” that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed…

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