Cyber Sanctions: Exploring a Blind Spot in the Current Legal Debate

24 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2012

See all articles by Marco Benatar

Marco Benatar

Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law; Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Kristof Gombeer

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB); Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO); Leiden University - Europa Institute

Date Written: May 1, 2011

Abstract

This article aims to bring to attention the prospective use of a novel category of coercive methods, cyber sanctions. Whilst acknowledging their untapped potential as a means available to international institutions, in particular the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), for targeting and pressurizing (non-)state actors, we maintain that there are several legal concerns surrounding their utilization that deserve closer attention. As regards the UN Charter, we discuss the growing acknowledgment that cyberspace is an area of conflict warranting UNSC action, the appropriate legal basis for executing measures travelling through cyberspace, as well as the competences of regional organizations in this regard. Furthermore, we contemplate to what extent UNSC is bound by other norms if it chooses to utilize these digital methods. More precisely, we look into some possible normative constraints emanating from human rights law and international humanitarian law. Having addressed these various juridical aspects we conclude that whereas the law as it stands today appears able to partially accommodate cyber sanctions, as is often the case, new technology stretches old law, sometimes to the breaking point.

Keywords: Sanctions, cyber warfare, United Nations, Security Council, collective security, internet, human rights

Suggested Citation

Benatar, Marco and Gombeer, Kristof, Cyber Sanctions: Exploring a Blind Spot in the Current Legal Debate (May 1, 2011). ESIL 2011 4th Research Forum. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1989786

Marco Benatar (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law

4 rue Alphonse Weicker
Luxembourg, L-2721
Luxembourg

HOME PAGE: http://www.mpi.lu/the-institute/research-fellows/marco-benatar/

Vrije Universiteit Brussel ( email )

Pleinlaan 2
Brussels, 1050
Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://www.vub.ac.be/people/marco-benatar

Kristof Gombeer

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) ( email )

Pleinlaan 2
Brussels, 1050
Belgium

Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO) ( email )

Egmontstraat 5
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

Leiden University - Europa Institute ( email )

Steenschuur 25
Leiden, 2311ES
Netherlands

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