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Hacking Humanitarians? IHL and the protection of humanitarian organizations against cyber operations

For some years, experts have cautioned that the more humanitarian organizations collect data, the more they ‘are exposed to a growing wave of digital attacks and cyber espionage, and have become highly prized targets’. In late January 2020, the issue made headlines: The New Humanitarian reported a ‘sophisticated’ cyber operation against the UN, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. While it remains unclear what type of data was affected, the incident underlines that in today’s world, no organization – national, intergovernmental or humanitarian – can consider itself safe from hostile cyber operations. For humanitarian organizations, like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), digitalization, strengthening cyber security systems and capabilities, and data protection are priorities (see here, orientation 5). And for a lawyer like myself, it raises the question of what international humanitarian law (IHL) has to say about ‘hacking humanitarians’? Of course, international humanitarian law (IHL) is only one piece of the puzzle. This post is…

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Life Without the WTO – Part II: Looking to the Everyday

Editors' Note: This is the second post of a two part series by EJIL:Talk Contributing Editor Michael Fakhri. Part I can be found here. In this second post I want to provide two examples of how life might look like without the WTO. One could do this in a myriad of ways and my…

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The Renegotiated “NAFTA”: What Is In It for Labor Rights?

On 1 October 2018, the draft text of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (Draft USMCA), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)’s successor, was published on the official website of the United States Trade Representative. The Agreement has still some way to go though, including extensive legal ‘scrubbing’ by national authorities and, most importantly, approval by the corresponding national legislatures,…

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