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As a general matter, international humanitarian law is up to the task of providing the legal framework for cyber operations during an armed conflict. However, two debates persist in this regard, the resolution of which will determine the precise degree of protection the civilian population will enjoy during cyber operations. The first revolves around the meaning of the term “attack” in various conduct of hostilities rules, while the second addresses the issue of whether data may be considered an object such that operations destroying or altering it are subject to the prohibition on attacking civilian objects and that their effects need be considered when considering proportionality and the taking of precautions in attack. Even if these debates were to be resolved, the civilian population would still face risks from the unique capabilities of cyber operations. This article proposes two policies that parties to a conflict should consider adopting in order to ameliorate such risks. They are both based on the premise that military operations must reflect a balance between military concerns and the interest of States in prevailing in the conflict.
Unmanned maritime systems (UMSs) comprise an important subcategory of unmanned military devices. While much of the normative debate concerning the use of unmanned aerial and land-based devices applies equally to those employed on or under water, UMS present unique challenges in understanding the application of existing law. This article summarizes the technological state of the art before considering, in turn, the legal status of UMSs, particularly under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the regulation of their use under the law of naval warfare. It is not yet clear if UMSs enjoy status as ships under UNCLOS; even if they do, it is unlikely that they can be classified as warships. Nevertheless, their lawful use is not necessarily precluded in either peacetime or armed conflict.
Tallinn Manual 2.0 expands on the highly influential first edition by extending its coverage of the international law governing cyber operations to peacetime legal regimes. The product of a three-year follow-on project by a new group of twenty renowned international law experts, it addresses such topics as sovereignty, state responsibility, human rights, and the law of air, space, and the sea. Tallinn Manual 2.0 identifies 154 'black letter' rules governing cyber operations and provides extensive commentary on each rule. Although Tallinn Manual 2.0 represents the views of the experts in their personal capacity, the project benefitted from the unofficial input of many states and over fifty peer reviewers.