Proportionality in cyber targeting

Authored by: Marco Roscini

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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According to Article 51(5)(b) of Additional Protocol I (AP 1) to the 1949 Geneva Conventions on the Protection of Victims of War, 1 an attack in an international armed conflict would be indiscriminate, and thus prohibited, if it ‘may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated’. 2 This provision, commonly referred to as the principle of proportionality, 3 has been incorporated in several military manuals, including the British Military Manual, 4 the French Manuel de droit des conflits armés 5 and the US Joint Doctrine for Targeting. 6 It reflects customary international law and, although it does not appear expressly in Additional Protocol II, it is generally accepted that it also applies to attacks in non-international armed conflicts. 7

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