Armed Attack in Cyberspace: Clarifying and Assessing When Cyber-Attacks Trigger the Netherlands’ Right of Self-Defence
Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2021-09
32 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2021 Last revised: 12 Oct 2021
Date Written: October 1, 2021
Whilst Article 51 of the UN Charter indicates that an ‘armed attack’ may trigger a State’s inherent right of individual or collective self-defence, the purport of armed attack remains a matter of interpretation and qualification. Moreover, actions carried out in (or through) cyberspace have caused the impetus for another debate: whether and when cyber-attacks can qualify as an armed attack. To improve the notion of self-defence and contribute to the jus ad bellum (international law on the use of transnational force), more clarification as to what constitutes an armed attack in cyberspace is necessary. The main aim of the paper is to propose a tangible guideline that outlines when cyber-attacks – perpetrated solely in or through cyberspace and not in conjunction with conventional military attacks – reach the threshold of an armed attack.
Keywords: Armed Attack, Threshold, Cyberspace, Article 51 UN Charter, Scale and Effect, Cyber-attack, Policy
JEL Classification: K33, K40, F51, F52, N40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation