Cyber Insecurity and the Politics of International Law
European Society of International Law Reflections Series, Vol 6, Issue 5 (June 2017)
9 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 9, 2017
As the threat landscape in cyberspace has become multifaceted, characterised by an increasing number and range of vulnerabilities and actors, the question of cybersecurity has been placed firmly on the international agenda. Today, the question is no longer whether, but how cyberspace should be governed in order to ensure cybersecurity around the world. It is in this context that international lawyers have also begun wrestling with the question of how they might contribute to the security and stability of cyberspace.
Against this background, this paper seeks to map the different modalities by which international lawyers have attempted to promote and preserve cybersecurity to date. The paper begins by identifying two of the most common modalities of engagement: first, as law-articulators, international lawyers have sought to identify the extent to which existing international legal frameworks already apply to cyber activities; and second, as law-entrepreneurs, international lawyers have sought to devise new international rules to respond to the unique challenges posed by cybersecurity. Bearing in mind the limits of these forms of engagement, the post identifies the emergence of a third modality: as norm-articulators and norm-entrepreneurs, international lawyers are beginning to broaden their perspective beyond international cyber law towards a concern for global cyber norms.
Ultimately, the paper aims to shed light on the politics of these different modalities of engagement – where “politics” is understood to refer to the choices confronted by international lawyers in their attempts to respond to perceived problems of the world with a view to managing them. In this vein, the paper seeks to offer a clear illustration of how the engagement of international lawyers in a particular context constitutes an expression of the political.
Keywords: cybersecurity; cyberspace; international law; politics
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