Computer network attacks under the jus ad bellum and the jus in bello

Distinction, proportionality, ambiguity and attribution

Authored by: Elaine Korzak , James Gow

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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When international humanitarian law applies, questions arise regarding the law of targeting – who and what can be attacked, and how? 1 New methods and means of warfare, even if deemed lawful per se, will still have to be used in accordance with these fundamental principles in order to qualify as lawful. 2 The emergence of computer network attacks, therefore, raises a number of issues in the application of two fundamental principles of IHL: distinction and proportionality. These are discussed below. As emerges in the discussion, traditional concerns for these important principles may be rendered moot by questions attribution cloaked in problems of ambiguity, prompting concern that the legal protections might not be available, in practice.

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