Creighton international and comparative law journal, Vol. 9, issue 1, 2017, p. 29-53
The proliferation of cyber-attacks has shifted the paradigm of warfare. In May 2017, the WannaCry attack was the first instance where civilian lives were directly and intentionally endangered by a piece of malicious code. In the wake of this attack, calls have been made to codify a “Digital Geneva Convention.” Although cyberwarfares are not regulated by any international humanitarian law (‘IHL’) treaties, ‘their development and employment in armed conflict do not occur in a legal vacuum.’ This paper seeks to explore the interaction between cyberwarfare and IHL. Whilst ‘the legal principles [of IHL] applies to all forms of warfare [including] those of the future,’ how it is to apply remains contentious and subject to debate. This paper will critically analyse how the legal parameters of IHL, lex lata, apply in times of cyberwar. This paper seeks to show the nuances in cyber-IHL which military commanders, and military legal advisors, ought to take note.