Cyber Warfare

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A general obligation of due diligence in international law?

Recently, arguments have emerged that a universal source exists from which it is automatically possible to derive binding due diligence obligations for states in relation to all forms of activities. Specifically, these claims contend that international law imposes a general obligation on states to act with due diligence to prevent their territory being used for activity which harms the rights of other states, and that this obligation is not restricted or confined to particular forms of activities. These arguments have been advanced by academic initiatives in the context of debates over the application of international law to cyberspace. They are noteworthy because they have influenced the positions of an increasing number of mostly European states who have made remarkable statements that have significant implications beyond the cyber context. Indeed, if these arguments receive widespread acceptance from states, it would constitute a radical broadening of obligations of conduct for states in an unprecedented manner beyond the cyber context. This blog post hopes to draw attention to these developments for those who may be…

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The African Union’s Statement on the Application of International Law to Cyberspace: An Assessment of the Principles of Territorial Sovereignty, Non-Intervention, and Non-Use of Force

A growing number of States have published statements examining the application of international law to cyberspace (for an overview see the Cyber Law Toolkit). On 29 January 2024, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council adopted the ‘Common African Position on the Application of International Law to the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in…

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Nothing is certain but death and taxes (unless you get hacked): An international law perspective on Ukraine’s cyber attack against Russia’s Federal Tax Service

Talk about bad timing. This week, all international lawyers with a little more than passing interest in all things cyber have their eyes on – or are themselves in – New York. That’s because the UN “Cyber OEWG”, a shorthand for an open-ended working group with a much longer name, is in session to discuss,…

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Ukranian ‘IT Army’: A Cyber Levée en Masse or Civilians Directly Participating in Hostilities?

In the days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Digital Transformation Mykhaylo Fedorov announced in a tweet the creation of an ‘IT Army’. According to reports, as many as 400, 000 people from across the world have joined. A list of targets has been published and…

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Unilateral Economic Sanctions to Deter and Punish Cyber-Attacks: Are They Here to Stay?

In June 2021 during the Biden-Putin summit, President Biden stated that critical infrastructure should be “off-limits” to cyber-attacks and handed over a list of 16 areas of critical infrastructure that under no circumstance should be targeted by cyber-attacks. This took place after the SolarWinds cyber-attack that was described by SolarWinds Vice-President as “your worst nightmare”.

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