Cyber Operations and the Use of Force in International Law

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2014-05-13
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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The internet has changed the rules of many industries, and war is no exception. But can a computer virus be classed as an act of war? Does a Denial of Service attack count as an armed attack? And does a state have a right to self-defense when attacked in cyber space? With the range and sophistication of cyber attacks against states showing a dramatic increase in recent times, this book investigates the traditional concepts of 'use of force', 'armed attack', and 'armed conflict' and asks whether existing laws created for analogue technologies can be applied to new digital developments.

The book provides a comprehensive analysis of primary documents and surrounding literature to establish whether and how existing rules on the use of force in international law apply to cyber operations. In particular, it assesses the rules of the jus ad bellum, the jus in bello, and the law of neutrality (whether based on treaty or custom), and analyses why each rule applies or does not apply in the cyber context. Those rules which can be seen to apply are then discussed in relation to each specific type of cyber operation. The book addresses the key questions of whether a cyber operation amounts to the use of force and, if so, whether the victim state may exercise its right of self-defense; whether cyber operations trigger the application of international humanitarian law when they are not accompanied by traditional hostilities; what rules must be followed in the conduct of cyber hostilities; how neutrality is affected by cyber operations; and whether those conducting cyber operations are combatants, civilians, or civilians taking direct part in hostilities. The book is essential reading for everyone wanting a better understanding of how international law regulates cyber combat.

Author Biography

Marco Roscini, Reader in International Law, University of Westminster

Dr Marco Roscini is currently Reader in International Law at the University of Westminster School of Law and Visiting Fellow at King's College London. He was previously a Research Fellow at the University of Verona School of Law. Dr. Roscini specialises in the international law of armed conflict and disarmament law. He has published a monograph on nuclear-weapon-free zones (Giappichelli, 2003) and is the co-editor (with Daniel H. Joyner) of Non-Proliferation Law as a Special Regime. He is also the author of numerous articles. Dr Roscini is the holder of a Leverhulme Fellowship 2012-2013 for his research on cyber warfare. He is also a member of the International Law Association's Committee on Nuclear Weapons, Non-proliferation and Contemporary International Law, and of the European Union's Non-Proliferation Consortium. In January 2009, he was appointed a member of the Peer Review College of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

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