Sent by Tilman Rodenhäuser, Legal Adviser
Ambassador Akahori, Professor Akande, Excellencies, dear colleagues,
The ICRC is grateful for the chance to take part in this casual dialogue on how global regulation applies in cyberspace. In line with our mandate, we will restrict our remarks to thoughts relating to international humanitarian legislation (IHL). IHL is the overall body of worldwide regulation that restricts the use of any weapons, indicates or solutions of warfare for the duration of an armed conflict, no matter whether these are new or old, cyber or kinetic. Given that the adoption of the St Petersburg Declaration of 1868, IHL developed into a body of legislation that imposes limitations on permissible implies and techniques of warfare to safeguard civilians versus the outcomes of hostilities and combatants in opposition to pointless suffering, between others.
In the ICRC’s perspective, the existing pre-draft of the OEWG report sufficiently displays the crucial exchanges of views among States on the software of IHL to cyber operations through armed conflict. We attach fantastic relevance to the clarifications
- in paragraph 29, that IHL “decreases hazards and probable harm to equally civilians and combatants in the context of an armed conflict”, and that IHL “neither encourages militarization nor legitimizes resort to conflict in any domain”
- and in paragraph 32, that “thoughts relevant to how the ideas of global humanitarian legislation, these types of as principles of humanity, necessity, proportionality, distinction and precaution, implement to ICT operations in the context of armed conflict” have nevertheless to be entirely clarified.
In light of the threats discovered in the pre-draft, and the ongoing progress of military cyber capabilities, we believe that that locating arrangement on how global regulation, together with IHL, restricts cyber functions all through armed conflict is of great value. We concur, even so, that these authorized thoughts have to be dealt with with prudence.
The ICRC has repeatedly pressured the value of international legislation for the upkeep of peace and protection. Also, we emphasize that intercontinental law sets out principles that shield civilians in the unfortunate event of war. States agreed on IHL in light-weight of the horrors they experienced experienced through armed conflicts of the earlier. These regulations purpose to maintain a minimum of humanity in potential conflicts. For illustration, they prohibit any assaults on civilians and civilian infrastructure, and they pay for unique protection to clinical amenities. The ICRC urges States to capture this popular denominator in the OEWG report: Civilians and civilian infrastructure need to be shielded towards the results of cyber functions through conflict and must not be attacked, in accordance with IHL.
The ICRC is conscious that a range of States have lifted authorized and political concerns in relation to the software of IHL in the ICT surroundings.
- Initial, it has been emphasised that IHL is a entire body of regulation that only applies through armed conflict. In our perspective, this stage is uncontroversial from a authorized stage of look at and could be agreed by all delegations.
- Next, some delegations have expressed issue that recognizing IHL applicability to cyber functions all through armed conflict could possibly encourage the militarization of cyberspace or be misused as legitimizing illegal cyber operations. Other people have emphasized that recalling the applicability of IHL to cyber functions during armed conflict does not, in any way, condone the militarization of cyberspace or cyber warfare. We stimulate delegations to operate together to come across solutions that accommodate the issues of all States, taking into account that the application of current procedures of IHL in cyberspace does not preclude discussions on supplemental principles or norms, if deemed required.
- Third, several delegations have elevated inquiries on how IHL applies to cyber operations, including on the interpretation and application of standard IHL rules, this kind of as distinction, proportionality, and safety measures. In the ICRC’s see, these questions are of utmost relevance. We encourage States to deepen their exchanges in upcoming expert discussions on how IHL applies in cyberspace.
The ICRC stays accessible to guidance these conversations as wanted.