EJIL: The Podcast! Episode 3 – Hacked Off!

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In the latest episode of EJIL: The Podcast! is now available. This episode focuses on the application of international law to cyber operations by states and non-state actors. For this discussion, Sarah, Nouwen, Marko Milanovic and I are joined by Harriet Moynihan (Chatham House), and Tilman Rodenhäuser (International Committee of the Red Cross). The particular context for the discussion is the recent rise in cyberattacks against the health care sector, especially in the context of the fight against COVID-19. However, the discussion ranges widely across a range of international law issues that might arise in the context of cyber operations. We consider whether international law imposes obligations on states to refrain from such attacks having effect in other states. When would such attacks violate the prohibition of the use of force? Do they constitute a breach of the principle of non-intervention in internal affairs? Is there a principle of sovereignty that can be breached by such operations? We also examine the applicable principles of international humanitarian law when cyber operations occur in the context of, or themselves trigger an armed conflict. Finally, we discuss the obligations, under international human rights law and other bodies of law, to take positive action (to exercise due diligence) to protect against harm occurring from attacks by non-state actors.


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Readers who are interested in posts on the blog that deal with cyber issues can find them here. Recently, nearly 130 international lawyers signed a statement Oxford Statement on the International Law Protections Against Cyber Operations Targeting the Health Care Sector. The Chatham House report on cyber attacks, sovereignty and non-intervention by Harriet Moynihan is available here. A Just Security blog post on cyber attacks against hospitals during the pandemic co-authored by Tilman Rodenhäuser and colleagues from the ICRC is available here. Finally, an article written by Marko Milanovic and Michael Schmitt on cyber attacks and misinformation operations during the pandemic, which is forthcoming in the Journal of National Security Law & Policy, is available here.

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