Maroi Kouka | Associate Postgraduate
Université Paris 8 - Centre de recherches juridiques
CIERA - 09/2020
The application of existing international law to low-level cyber-operations: gray zones and legal uncertainties
Summary of thesis
From an international law perspective, cyberspace is perceived as an ambiguous domain where many issues remain unsettled. States behavior in cyberspace is not regulated by any specific legally binding international rules. The boundaries of lawfulness are yet to be set as states fail to adopt hard law provisions specifically governing cyber operations. In this context, consensus has been reached over the applicability of existing international law and norms of responsible behaviors have been developed at the United Nations level and endorsed by the majority of States.
This dissertation aims at unpacking the legal framework governing harmful cyber operations deemed lawful under current rules of international law, or in other words those whose unlawfulness is debatable depending on State interpretation of existing international law. It is worth noting in this respect that the number of States explicitly expressing their views on the application of existing international law, albeit growing, is limited with a varied degree of divergence amongst their public approaches with respect to the application of core legal principles. Divergence pertains to both the existence and/or the application of relevant rules - namely sovereignty, non-intervention, due diligence and use of force. This thesis focuses particularly on the following cyber operations: data manipulation or influence operations, data retention or ransomware, and unauthorized data collection via cyber means or espionage.
Institution of thesis
Université Paris 8 - Centre des Recherches Juridiques