Cyber Norm Development and the United States Law of War Manual

NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, International Cyber Norms Development (Anna-Maria Osula ed., Forthcoming)

19 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2015 Last revised: 10 Oct 2015

See all articles by Sean Watts

Sean Watts

Creighton University School of Law

Date Written: August 7, 2015

Abstract

This chapter examines the recently released United States Department of Defense (DoD) Law of War Manual to sample sovereign views on the current state of international law applicable to cyberspace operations and to assess State interest in development of new cyber-specific norms. The Manual’s treatment of cyber operations is a useful indication of the current state of international norm development in cyberspace and offers insights into likely future developments. Despite presenting the opportunity to do so, the Manual declines to resolve considerable and relatively long-standing legal questions concerning the operation of the law of war in cyberspace. Although the Manual describes the U.S. as committed to resolving unsettled and undeveloped legal issues in cyberspace, its authors decline to stake out meaningful positions with respect to these issues or to resolve them in any significant respect. The Manual, with minor exceptions, is not a significant contribution to the development or refinement of new cyber norms. It leaves the international legal community uncertain with respect to both a number of substantive legal issues in cyberspace as well as with respect to how, if at all, the U.S. intends to develop new international cyber law.

Keywords: law of war, cyber warfare, cyber operations, cyber space, cyber law, international law, law of armed conflict, international humanitarian law

Suggested Citation

Watts, Sean, Cyber Norm Development and the United States Law of War Manual (August 7, 2015). NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, International Cyber Norms Development (Anna-Maria Osula ed., Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2650784

Sean Watts (Contact Author)

Creighton University School of Law ( email )

2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
United States

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