GoJIL Vol. 1, No. 3 (2009)
The Use of Cyber Force: Need for Legal Justification?
This short essay presents a legal analysis of cyber force, an intangible form of international coercion that exploits computer networks leaving havoc in its wake. After providing recent examples of this phenomenon, as well as circumscribing its scope, the essay sets out to determine to what extent cyber force can be reconciled with contemporary jus ad bellum. Two key questions will be addressed: is cyber force a use of force as defined in article 2(4) of the UN Charter, and if so, could it conceivably rise to level of an armed attack justifying self-defence as meant by article 51 of the same document? In order to respond to these queries, the analysis hinges upon the interpretative techniques of the Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties as well as the current doctrinal debates regarding cyber force. The essay ends with a brief consideration of plausible prospects with respect to the regulation of this novel form of coercion.
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