Autonomous Cyber Capabilities and the International Law of Sovereignty and Intervention

96 International Law Studies 549-576 (2020)

29 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2021

See all articles by Michael N. Schmitt

Michael N. Schmitt

University of Reading School of Law; Lieber Institute, USMA at West Point; Naval War College - Stockton Center for the Study of International Law

Date Written: December 5, 2020

Abstract

This article explores the intersection of autonomous cyber capabilities and two primary rules of international law — the respect for the sovereignty of other States and the prohibition on coercive intervention into another State's internal or external affairs. Of all the rules of international law, these are the likeliest to be violated through employment of cyber capabilities, whether autonomous or not. This raises the question of whether a cyber operation that involves autonomous capabilities presents unique issues with respect to the application of the two rules. The article concludes that while there are numerous unsettled issues surrounding their application to cyber operations, the fact that a cyber operation employs autonomous capabilities has little legal bearing on the resolution of those issues. Rather, autonomy simply makes it more difficult, at least at times, to confidently apply the rules because of the uncertainty as to the consequences. Yet, these are dilemmas of fact, not law, and must be understood and acknowledged as such.

Keywords: sovereignty, autonomous, intervention, state responsibility, cyber

Suggested Citation

Schmitt, Michael N., Autonomous Cyber Capabilities and the International Law of Sovereignty and Intervention (December 5, 2020). 96 International Law Studies 549-576 (2020), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3755530

Michael N. Schmitt (Contact Author)

University of Reading School of Law ( email )

Whiteknights
Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AH
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.reading.ac.uk/law/Staff/m-schmitt.aspx

Lieber Institute, USMA at West Point ( email )

600 Thayer Rd
West Point, NY Rhode Island 10996
United States
4016190192 (Phone)
02871-5150 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.reading.ac.uk/law/Staff/m-schmitt.aspx

Naval War College - Stockton Center for the Study of International Law ( email )

686 Cushing Road
Newport, RI 02841
United States

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