Cyber War and International Law: Does the International Legal Process Constitute a Threat to U.S. Vital Interests?   [open pdf - 445KB]

"The title of this article poses the question whether, in the context of cyber war and other related forms of cyber attack, the international legal process itself may pose a threat to vital U.S. interests. Certainly, […] a successful effort by the Russian Federation and China to conclude a widely adopted global treaty authorizing the United Nations or the ITU [International Telecommunications Union] to regulate the Internet would constitute such a threat. […] This article begins with a discussion of the legality (or not) of Stuxnet and the other recently developed viruses under current international law, specifically the 'jus ad bellum' and the 'jus in bello', as well as an analysis of whether traditional forms of espionage or the emerging practice of cyber espionage are covered by current international law. It then turns to an examination of recent efforts by Russia, China and others to develop an international law treaty for regulating the Internet, and efforts by Russia in particular to conclude a treaty on cyber war, and the extent to which these efforts may represent a use of the international legal process that threatens U.S. vital interests. Next the article explores some of the legal implications of the claim that the United States has conflated the terms 'use of force' in Article 2(4) and 'armed attack' in Article 51 of the UN Charter in such a way as to support an overly expansive interpretation of the right of self-defense under Article 51. Lastly, the article considers some of the challenges that the use of cyber warfare by terrorists may pose to international law and policy."

2013 Naval War College International Law Studies. Posted here with permission. Documents are for personal use only and not for commercial profit.
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U.S. Naval War College: http://www.usnwc.edu/
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Naval War College International Law Studies (2013), v. 89, p. 309-340
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