Cyber Warfare

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Cyber and Influence Operations Targeting Elections: Back to the Principle of Non-Intervention

After the 2016 US presidential election, President Obama criticized Russia for interfering in the vote, but stopped short of alleging a violation of international law. The intervening period has seen a vigorous debate on the rules governing interference in elections, but no consensus has emerged. The 2020 presidential election would seem, then, as Michael Schmitt reminds us, in a series of posts for this Blog (here, here and here), a good time to revisit the issue, especially in light of reports suggesting that foreign powers are again trying to interfere in the vote, by hacking information and communications technologies (ICTs), disseminating fake news stories, and conducting disinformation campaigns. The Problem of “Coercion” The standard way that international lawyers approach the subject of foreign interference in domestic political affairs is through the lens of the non-intervention rule. In its 1986 Nicaragua judgment, the International Court…

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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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The Second Oxford Statement on International Law Protections of the Healthcare Sector During COVID-19: Safeguarding Vaccine Research

The alarming spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic—now infecting nearly 19 million and claiming more than 700,000 lives worldwide—has made it increasingly urgent to define international law protections for the health care sector against malicious cyber operations. In May 2020, malicious cyberattacks on organizations at the frontline of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic—including the…

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