The Applicability of International Laws to Cyber Operations

937 words | 4 page(s)

The first source relating to article 2 of the United Nations charter has its normative value ingrained in the provision that nations cannot shape their international relations through the use of force or threat to political and territorial integrity. Its normative value is that it defines how nations should form foreign relations and limitations in which their actions should comply so as to avoid acting in a manner that is inconsistent with expectations and purposes that United Nations is built upon. Since it is binding to all nations, this source influences how international law is formed by codifying practices, intentions, and behaviors that nations subscribe to facilitate formation of good international relations.

On the other hand, source two “Tallin manual on international law applicable to cyber operations” discusses on the current legal provisions governing cyberspace and what applications of cyber operations constitute violation of article 2(4) of United Nations charter outlining how states should conduct themselves to avoid breaching political independence of territorial integrity of other nations. The normative value in this source is that it provides that international law should be holistic and cyber operations should not include into the current legislative frameworks as long as their intent is equal to non-cyber operations that constitute force or threats inconsistent with proper legal conduct in international space.

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The same source has also focused on the issue of sovereignty furthering its normative value to advance depth of understanding on international law and its relation to governance of global advancements that can be used to cause harm or good depending on intent. Based on United Nations charter article 2(1)–(5), nations are supposed to conduct their activities in a manner consistent with the purpose of United Nations and the one aimed at solidifying good foreign relations among nations. Although this source is not legally binding on nations, it has the potential to influence development of international law by informing thresholds that govern legality of cyber operations.

The third source “Sovereignty in the Age of Cyber” further highlights how cyber operations in modern day world are influencing development of international law and their complex interconnectivity between state and on state actors while pursuing partisan interests. As a matter of fact, the normative value in this source is an improved understanding on vitality of international law in maintaining global order, as well as its role in providing legal rationale when dealing with incompatible traditional concepts in a rapidly evolving legislative landscape where intent and nature of use is used to determine legality of state activities.

This source however does not obligate nations to follow its constructs since it is used to define current developments in international law and how emergent legal issues should be perceived and justified. However, the dynamic and rapidity in which the world is evolving from the legal standpoint has made the source relevant with the normative value of added understanding of legal dynamics in modern settings and the need to have international legislative frameworks that are flexible to situational demands. This source also influences development of international law by furthering the concept of sovereignty contained in Vienna convention article 31 and 32 so that nations cannot use cyber operations as the means to violate other nations’ sovereign rights and political independence.

In addition to independent contributions made by the above sources in development of international law, they have commonalities in approach whose consideration furthers creation of effective and contextually relevant legislative frameworks. They have contributed to development of international law by providing essential interpretations of existing laws, current legislative gaps, and extent of state activities that not only constitute use of force or threat to breach sovereignty and political independence, but also how organizations have the capacity to dynamically address emerging legal challenges that threaten peaceful coexistence of nations.

Analysis of the three sources has indicated deficiencies in the current legislative landscape where some issues relating to international laws are not adequately addressed. This can be attributed to the fact that issues requiring international legal attention are highly dynamic and complex in terms of their correlation with state and non-state players. Therefore, there is need for additional legislative process whose output is supposed to complement the existing international laws while resolving their weaknesses or gaps. The alternative process will additionally address challenges faced with creating international laws because of inefficiencies caused by processes that demand consensus from nations with contending interests .

The proposed legislative process takes a holistic approach involving state and non-state parties so as to formulate laws that prohibit utilization of cyberspace to threaten or interfere with sovereignty and independence of other nations. Article 13(1)(a) and article 108 of united nations charter have provided for alternative processes so that international laws are dynamic and progressive; thus, the need for proposing an alternative approach to development of international laws that complement each other.

As such, the proposed process begins with identification of public, private, and government as parties to development of regulations to govern cyber operations. These parties are then supposed to provide their propositions, legal understanding, and conditions in which legality of cyber operations will be determined. Then these parties discuss the elements for regulation, codify their propositions into international law, and eventually ratify the provisions in form of a treaty that binds all signatories. Just as in article 26 of Vienna convention and article 2(1-5) of united charter, signatories will be obliged to follow the laws in good faith as per the codified practices so that pursuit of their purpose does not violate laws regulating international relations.

  • Armstrong, J. D., Farrell, T., & Lambert, H. (2012). International law and international relations. Themes in international relations (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

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