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Title: Cyber-attacks and international law : imperfections of a stagnant legal regime
Author: Radziwill-Širjajev, Yaroslav
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2014
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States are on the brink of entering an age of total cyber-warfare without due regard to its legal ramifications. In particular, there has been no express agreement on which principles of international law are applicable, which legal methods should be used in approaching cyber-attacks, which previous state practice (if any) is relevant, what institutions are responsible for handling this threat and how they are going to coordinate action amongst each other. While members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (led by the Russian Federation) have repeatedly suggested developing and agreeing upon special written norms that would govern the conduct of cyber-hostilities, the United States and some of its allies continue to reject these proposals, arguing that the existing international law already provides a comprehensive framework necessary to tackle cyber-warfare. The present thesis does not contest (and, in fact, supports) the idea that contemporary jus ad bellum and jus in bello, in general, can accommodate cyberattacks. Instead, it argues that existing international law features a large amount of significant imperfections that can be exploited in cyber-warfare. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the jus ad bellum and jus in bello regimes as they apply to cyber-attacks with a view of mapping out exploitable gaps, deficiencies and uncertainties and offering further remedies that could eliminate them. Therefore, the research focus lies on revealing elements of existing international law that do not perfectly fit the threat of cyber-attacks. For this purpose, the general politico-legal framework of and norms pertaining to the use of force and humanitarian law are analyzed. The study is supplemented by looking into inter-related rules, which bear secondary importance for the purposes of this thesis, that is those surrounding conventional terrorism, United Nations law, international criminal law, principles of territoriality, sovereignty, jurisdiction and so on. At the same time, in addressing technical matters, an attempt is made to present the danger of cyber-attacks realistically. As a theoretical foundation, the current thesis recognizes the central role of states in cyber-warfare, run by governments, who interpret and want others to interpret international law in a way that best suits their interests. Furthermore, it acknowledges that their behavior is somewhat tampered with by the strongest elements of natural law and that, while, legal norms may be treated as irrelevant, their violation has negative political consequences.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: K Law (General)