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Which measures – technical, policy, and legal – should states put in place to avoid or at least reduce the risk of civilian harm from military cyber operations during armed conflicts?
We asked undergraduate students to explore the subject in an essay competition organized as part of our joint research project with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the digitalization of armed conflict.
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In her winning essay, Digital Safe Havens: Sheltering Civilians From Military Cyber Operations, Isabelle Peart brings forward novel suggestions on how to reduce the risk of harm to civilians posed by military cyber operations.
The author, who pursues a Bachelor of Economics/Laws Degree at the University of Queensland in Australia, demonstrated a clear understanding of international humanitarian law, adapted the little-known concept of demilitarized zones to the cyber context, and – on that basis – made a compelling argument for the establishment of international digital safe havens.
This paper will be published in the ICRC Humanitarian Law & Policy Blog this summer, as part of a series on avoiding civilian harm during military cyber operations.
Tatjana Grote from the University of Leipzig arrived second, and the third place is shared by Ju Zhao from the George Washington University and Zahbea Zahra from the Kinnaird College for Women in Pakistan.
‘Even though a competition can only have one winner, I would like to congratulate all participants who took the time and effort to do research and share with us their thoughts on this important subject. At the ICRC, we hope they will maintain their interest in this important field as they continue their studies and beyond. We have learned a lot from the creative and innovative ideas expressed by the students and I am sure many of them will inspire our work in the future’ says Laurent Gisel, co-chair of the international expert jury and Head of the Arms and Conduct of Hostilities Unit at the ICRC.
‘Reducing the risk of civilian harm from military cyber operations is at the forefront of current protection questions during armed conflicts. Hearing from the young generation – who can look at this issue with fresh eyes and propose out of the box solutions – is therefore key to ensure the continued relevance of international humanitarian law in these contexts. This is why the essay competition specifically targeted undergraduate students from various backgrounds’ underlines Professor Gloria Gaggioli, Director of the Geneva Academy.
In total, 62 entries were received from 29 different countries.
The 88 students enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law started their respective programmes last week.
Three new Working Papers – researched by the Geneva Academy in the context of our joint project with the ICRC on the digitalization of armed conflict – address some of the main issues of contention concerning the application of international law to military cyber operations.
The 2021 edition will address two contemporary challenges and issues related to armed conflict: the classification of non-international armed conflicts in which a myriad of armed non-state actors are involved; and cyber conflicts.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, discusses the protection offered by international humanitarian law (IHL) in non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) and addresses some problems and controversies specific to IHL of NIACs, including the difficulty to ensure the respect of IHL by armed non-state actors.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, analyses the main international and regional norms governing the international protection of refugees. It notably examines the sources of international refugee law, including the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and their interaction with human rights law and international humanitarian law.
This project aims at compiling and analysing the practice and interpretation of selected international humanitarian law and human rights norms by armed non-state actors (ANSAs). It has a pragmatic double objective: first, to offer a comparative analysis of IHL and human rights norms from the perspective of ANSAs, and second, to inform strategies of humanitarian engagement with ANSAs, in particular the content of a possible ‘Model Code of Conduct’.
Resulting from traditional legal research and informal interviews with experts, the project aims at examining how – if at all possible – IHL could be more systematically, appropriately and correctly dealt with by the human rights mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well from universal and regional treaties.