Proxy wars in cyberspace : the evolving international law of attribution
Michael N. Schmitt and Liis Vihul
Host item entries:
Fletcher security review, Vol. 1, issue 2, Spring 2014, p. 53-72 : ill.
The authors address when the cyber activities of another actor are attributable to a state, and the possible consequences of such attribution under international law. The actions of another actor can only be attributed to a state if the state exercises “effective control” over the actor or if the state adopts the act as its own. If an act is attributed to a state, the state may be the subject of reparations or countermeasures. If the act causes death or physical destruction, such acts may amount to an armed attack and the affected state may be justified in responding with force pursuant to the right of self-defence under the UN Charter and customary international law. However, the authors argue that it is uncertain if non-destructive yet disruptive acts would qualify as “an attack.” The authors note that the attribution standard under international humanitarian law (IHL), which determines when a state’s contribution changes a non-international armed conflict to an international one, differs from that applicable to the attribution standard in the context of state responsibility. Under IHL, the lower standard of “overall control” can be met by showing the state’s role in planning or supervising the attack. [Summary by students at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law (IHRP)]
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