Kevin Ku on Unsplash>
27 June 2022
Our new Working Paper Societal Risks and Potential Humanitarian Impact of Cyber Operations provides an up-to-date assessment of existing risks and protection needs in light of contemporary and future military cyber capabilities.
Based on two expert workshops and four other consultations with individual experts – held between February and May 2021 – it addresses the following three overarching questions:
‘The expert consultation sought to gain insights from cybersecurity experts from different disciplines and with different backgrounds concerning the current developments of technological, political, and societal trends in the global cybersecurity landscape’ explains Professor Marco Roscini, Swiss IHL Chair at the Geneva Academy.
Mika Baumeister, Unsplash
Moritz Erken, Unsplash>
Written by Pia Hüsch and Henning Lahmann, the report details in five distinct parts the actors involved in adversarial cyber operations, the methods they use, their objectives, on what the vulnerabilities of the targets depends, and what can be done to strengthen these targets’ resilience against cyber harm.
A sixth concluding part briefly touches upon some of the legal issues raised during the workshops and consultations that merit more in-depth consideration.
‘The main takeaways are that the different actors have become significantly more sophisticated in their attacks, using ever-more intricate methods – often in combination (e.g. a ransomware attack followed by an information operation). It has become more frequent to target entire societies, which is partly a function of increasing vulnerabilities especially in sectors where the digital transformation has been happening too quickly’ explains Henning Lahmann.
Mikhail Fesenko, Unsplash
Tim Käbel, Unsplash>
The consultations and this resulting paper lay the factual groundwork for the remainder of our joint initiative with the International Committee of the Red Cross on the digitalization of conflict.
‘We can only conduct an informed legal analysis – as the basis for possible recommendations as to a possible further development of the law – with adequate expert knowledge on recent developments in the global cybersecurity landscape’ underlines Professor Roscini.
‘This paper therefore provides an adequate starting point for our research with the ICRC that addresses one of the most pressing challenges in the law of armed conflict today’ he adds.
Our recent expert meeting, conducted in collaboration with the ICRC, addressed the growing involvement of civilians in cyber and digital operations during armed conflicts.
During the latest UN Human Rights Council session, our Head of Research and Policy Studies Dr Erica Harper presented at a side event the situation in Afghanistan.
This IHL Talk, organized with the Geneva Water Hub, will discuss the weaponization of water in contemporary armed conflicts and the importance of IHL and human rights law in preventing and mitigating the consequences on civilians.
This event, co-organized with the ATLAS network, will feature women with diverse experiences and career paths in international law, specifically emphasizing their involvement in humanitarian negotiations.
To unpack the challenges raised by artificial intelligence, this project will target two emerging and under-researched areas: digital military technologies and neurotechnology.
This project will explore humanitarian consequences and protection needs caused by the digitalization of armed conflicts and the extent to which these needs are addressed by international law, especially international humanitarian law.