The US, the UK, Russia and China (1)

Regulating cyber attacks under international law – developments at the United Nations

Authored by: Elaine Korzak

Routledge Handbook of War, Law and Technology

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  May  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138084551
eBook ISBN: 9781315111759
Adobe ISBN:


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In light of the challenges that cyber attacks pose to international law on the use of force and international humanitarian law, the need for a new international legal framework to regulate these types of attacks has been continuously raised. Important, yet mostly unpublicised developments have taken place in the framework of the United Nations since the Russian Federation first introduced a proposal directed towards an international agreement in 1998. Since then, cyber security discussions have taken place across various bodies of the UN system. 1 While the Security Council is yet to discuss matters related to cyber security in any depth, the bulk of discussions has proceeded in the various Committees of the General Assembly. 2 However, legal questions have not been explicitly addressed. The Sixth Committee, dealing with questions of international law, has not been tasked to investigate the possibility of an international treaty regulating the use of cyber attacks by states. Instead, questions related to the applicability and adequacy of international law have been embedded in the broader cyber security debate at the United Nations which has been fragmented across the First, Second and Third Committees of the General Assembly.

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