Cyber Operations Triggering an International Armed Conflict


Faculty of Law, University of Bucharest

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to analyze possible issues or difficulties in applying one of the conditions of international armed conflicts to exist, namely the resort to armed force, to cyber operations. It will attempt to understand the conventional meaning of the phrase and how these may apply in the cyber context. Departing from debates as to the original meaning of the phrase and following the rationale use by current doctrine, this paper will highlight current trends in the interpretation of when cyber operations constitute a resort to armed force and possible solutions. Unlike previous work, that concentrated on cyber operations as the use of force or armed attacks under jus ad bellum, the focus now turns to the more specific condition of cyber operations that trigger an international armed conflict.

Key-words: cyber operations, international humanitarian law, international armed conflict, resort to armed force

* Radu Mihai Şerbănescu has graduated the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Law (2010), the LLM in Public International Law (2010) and the LLM in European Union Law (2011) at the same faculty. He is currently in the fourth year of doctoral studies at the Faculty of Law. In this capacity, he is in charge with certain seminars on Public International Law and International Organisations and Relations for the second year of undergraduate studies. Previously, he has been a research assistant at the Research Center for Criminal Studies at the Faculty of Law. He is also the Head of the Office on the Implementation of International Sanctions, at the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The opinions expressed in this paper are solely the author’s and do not engage the institution he belongs to.

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