An Assessment of Jus in Bello Issues Concerning Computer Network Attacks: A Threat Reflected in National Security Agendas
Romanian Journal of International Law, Vol. 12, pp. 25-63, 2010
13 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2011 Last revised: 5 Apr 2015
Date Written: April 13, 2011
Since 2001, computer network attacks have become a feature of international relations; they have been conducted on a regular basis, leaving states troubled as to the appropriate way of responding to them. Limited bibliography exists on how the existing rules on the use of force (jus ad bellum) as well as the law of armed conflict (jus in bello) apply to computer network attacks. The scope of the present article is broader, as it seeks to explore issues that pertain to computer network attacks/operations in the light of jus in bello and present the new tendencies concerning this matter which is already being addressed by states and international organizations, i.e. NATO. The analysis takes into consideration the jus in bello and the codified existing law in the form of HPCR Manual on International Law Applicable to Air and Missile Warfare (2009) along with the strategy doctrines and military manuals of various states that have openly admitted to be conducting computer network operations and/or recognize the potential harm of cyber threats to their security. With the civilian and military cyber domain considered to be interlinked, states with significant digital infrastructure have moved to design national strategies to mitigate and establish agencies to counter threats in the cyber space. The dual (civilian/military) nature of the threat is underscored in most official policies while cyber warfare is expected or considered to be a part of conventional warfare. A number of states have claimed the severity of cyber threats, issued strategy doctrines which address the prospect of offensive and defensive computer network operations while they gradually upgrade computer network operations from “stand alone capabilities” to integrated operations in the conventional military force scheme/theatre of operations, and adjust military manuals to the complexities of computer network operations.
Keywords: computer network attacks, cyber warfare, jus in bello, strategy doctrines, law of armed conflict manuals
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