Cyber conflict and jus in Bello – international humanitarian law on cyber attacks
Devi Vara Prasad Romala
The purpose of this research paper is to examine the provisions of International Humanitarian Law on cyber operations in the context of International Armed Conflicts. This paper will discuss the legal application of the substantive rules restricting warfare to military conflicts involving cyber operations under the Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Convention. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the degree to which cyber operations that don't constitute an attack are governed by the provisions of Additional Protocol I and whether they are considered to be an attack. In this research paper, the definition for an attack should be interpreted strictly as referring only to cyber operations which lead to death and injury, to individuals or the harm or destruction of artefacts, while international humanitarian law applies to cyber warfare. The implications of this consequence-based interpretation of an ‘attack’ concept are that most significant safeguards protecting civilians and their artefacts do not apply to cyber operations under Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Convention. This research paper is limited to only Jus in Bello and does not discuss the Jus ad Bellum or the actions of individuals (e.g., groups of hackers). The technological aspects of cyber warfare will be discussed, as required. This paper deals with identifying cyber operations as attacks in international armed disputes and excludes issues like conflict attribution and classification.