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Beyond state-centrism: international law and non-state actors in cyberspace

Schmitt, M. N. ORCID: and Watts, S. (2016) Beyond state-centrism: international law and non-state actors in cyberspace. Journal of Conflict and Security Law, 21 (3). pp. 595-611. ISSN 1467-7962

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/jcsl/krw019


Classically, States and non-State actors were differentiated not only by disparities in legal status but also by significant imbalances in resources and capabilities. Not surprisingly, international law developed a State-centric bias to account for these imbalances. Cyberspace and cyber operations, however, have closed a number of formerly significant gaps between States’ and non-State actors’ abilities to compromise international peace and security. In fact, some non-State actors now match, if not exceed, the cyber capabilities of many States in this respect. Where public international law had long proved chiefly relevant to States’ interactions with other States, cyber operations by non-State actors increase the frequency with which public international law provides relevant and binding legal rules. This article surveys existing public international law for norms relevant to the cyber interactions of cyber-empowered States and non-State actors. Specifically, the article illustrates how the principles of sovereignty, State responsibility and the jus ad bellum are particularly relevant to States engaged in struggles with non-State actors for security and supremacy in cyberspace.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Law
ID Code:89739
Publisher:Oxford University Press


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