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[[Sovereignty]] is a core principle of international law. According to a widely accepted definition of the term in the 1928 ''Island of Palmas'' arbitral award,<blockquote>[s]overeignty in the relations between States signifies independence. Independence in regard to a portion of the globe is the right to exercise therein, to the exclusion of any other State, the functions of a State.<ref>''Island of Palmas (Neth. v. U.S.)'', 2 RIAA 829, 838 (Perm. Ct. Arb. 1928).</ref></blockquote>Multiple declarations by the UN,<ref>UNGA [https://unoda-web.s3-accelerate.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/A-RES-70-237-Information-Security.pdf Res 71/237 (30 December 2015)] UN Doc A/RES/20/237.</ref> NATO,<ref>North Atlantic Treaty Organization, [https://www.nato.int/cps/ic/natohq/official_texts_112964.htm 'Wales Summit Declaration']  (issued by the Head of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Wales  (5 September 2015) para 72.</ref> OSCE,<ref>Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, [https://www.osce.org/pc/227281?download=true ''Decision No. 1202, OSCE Confidence-Building Measures to Reduce the Risks of Conflict Stemming from the Use of Information and Communication Technologies''] (Permanent Council, 10 March 2016) PC.DEC/1202.</ref> the European Union,<ref> Council of the European Union,[https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/31666/st14435en17.pdf "Council Conclusions on the Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council: Resilience, Deterrence and Defence: Building strong cybersecurity for the EU"] (Council conclusions, 20 November 2017).</ref> and individual States have confirmed that international law applies in cyberspace.  Accordingly, so too does the principle of sovereignty. However, there is some debate as to whether this principle operates as a standalone rule of international law, the breach of which gives rise to state responsibility.  
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[[Sovereignty]] is a core principle of international law. According to a widely accepted definition of the term in the 1928 ''Island of Palmas'' arbitral award,<blockquote>[s]overeignty in the relations between States signifies independence. Independence in regard to a portion of the globe is the right to exercise therein, to the exclusion of any other State, the functions of a State.<ref>''Island of Palmas (Neth. v. U.S.)'', 2 RIAA 829, 838 (Perm. Ct. Arb. 1928).</ref></blockquote>Multiple declarations by the UN,<ref>UNGA [https://unoda-web.s3-accelerate.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/A-RES-70-237-Information-Security.pdf Res 71/237 (30 December 2015)] UN Doc A/RES/20/237.</ref> NATO,<ref>North Atlantic Treaty Organization, [https://www.nato.int/cps/ic/natohq/official_texts_112964.htm 'Wales Summit Declaration']  (issued by the Head of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Wales  (5 September 2015) para 72.</ref> OSCE,<ref>Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, [https://www.osce.org/pc/227281?download=true ''Decision No. 1202, OSCE Confidence-Building Measures to Reduce the Risks of Conflict Stemming from the Use of Information and Communication Technologies''] (Permanent Council, 10 March 2016) PC.DEC/1202.</ref> the European Union,<ref> Council of the European Union,[https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/31666/st14435en17.pdf "Council Conclusions on the Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council: Resilience, Deterrence and Defence: Building strong cybersecurity for the EU"] (Council conclusions, 20 November 2017), </ref> and individual States have confirmed that international law applies in cyberspace.  Accordingly, so too does the principle of sovereignty. However, there is some debate as to whether this principle operates as a standalone rule of international law, the breach of which gives rise to state responsibility.  
  
 
* For the proponents of this view, the prohibition on violating the sovereignty of other States is a substantive primary rule of international law, the breach of which is an internationally wrongful act. This view was unanimously accepted by the experts who prepared the Tallinn Manual 2.0<ref>Michael N Schmitt, '[https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/cjil19&i=36 Virtual Disenfranchisement: Cyber Election Meddling in the Grey Zones of International Law]' (2018) 19 ChiJIntlL 30,40; [https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139169288 Tallinn Manual 2.0], commentary to rule 4, para 2 (‘States shoulder an obligation to respect the sovereignty of other States as a matter of international law’).</ref> and it was reportedly not challenged by any of the over fifty States that participated in the process of consultations regarding the Manual prior to its publication in 2017.<ref>See Michael N Schmitt and Liis Vihul, ‘[https://texaslawreview.org/respect-sovereignty-cyberspace/ Respect for Sovereignty in Cyberspace]’ (2017) 95 Tex L Rev. 1639, 1649 (noting that States ‘voiced no meaningful objection to Rule 4’ and that ‘it appeared to be received knowledge that a primary rule on territorial-sovereignty violations existed and applied to cyber operations.’).</ref> This view has now been adopted by several States including the Czech Republic<ref>Czech Republic, [https://www.nukib.cz/download/publications_en/CZ%20Statement%20-%20OEWG%20-%20International%20Law%2011.02.2020.pdf Statement by Mr. Richard Kadlčák, Special Envoy for Cyberspace, 2nd substantive session of the Open-ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security] (11 February 2020), stating that ‘[t]he Czech Republic concurs with those considering the principle of sovereignty as an independent right and the respect to sovereignty as an independent obligation.’</ref>, France,<ref>French Ministry of the Armies, ‘[https://www.defense.gouv.fr/content/download/567648/9770527/file/international+law+applied+to+operations+in+cyberspace.pdf International Law Applied to Operations in Cyberspace]’, 9 September 2019, stating that ‘Any unauthorised penetration by a State of French systems or any production of effects on French territory via a digital vector may constitute, at the least, a breach of sovereignty’.</ref> Germany<ref>Norbert Riedel, ‘[https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/newsroom/news/150518-ca-b-chatham-house/271832 Cyber Security as a Dimension of Security Policy]’ (18 May 2015), arguing that ‘[e]ven in cases where one cannot speak of a use of force, the use of cyber capabilities might constitute a violation of sovereignty, if the attack can be attributed to a state, which then in turn could lead to consequences within the confines of public international law’.</ref> and the Netherlands.<ref>Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ‘[https://www.government.nl/ministries/ministry-of-foreign-affairs/documents/parliamentary-documents/2019/09/26/letter-to-the-parliament-on-the-international-legal-order-in-cyberspace Letter to the parliament on the international legal order in cyberspace]’ (5 July 2019), stating that ‘countries may not conduct cyber operations that violate the sovereignty of another country’.</ref>
 
* For the proponents of this view, the prohibition on violating the sovereignty of other States is a substantive primary rule of international law, the breach of which is an internationally wrongful act. This view was unanimously accepted by the experts who prepared the Tallinn Manual 2.0<ref>Michael N Schmitt, '[https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/cjil19&i=36 Virtual Disenfranchisement: Cyber Election Meddling in the Grey Zones of International Law]' (2018) 19 ChiJIntlL 30,40; [https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139169288 Tallinn Manual 2.0], commentary to rule 4, para 2 (‘States shoulder an obligation to respect the sovereignty of other States as a matter of international law’).</ref> and it was reportedly not challenged by any of the over fifty States that participated in the process of consultations regarding the Manual prior to its publication in 2017.<ref>See Michael N Schmitt and Liis Vihul, ‘[https://texaslawreview.org/respect-sovereignty-cyberspace/ Respect for Sovereignty in Cyberspace]’ (2017) 95 Tex L Rev. 1639, 1649 (noting that States ‘voiced no meaningful objection to Rule 4’ and that ‘it appeared to be received knowledge that a primary rule on territorial-sovereignty violations existed and applied to cyber operations.’).</ref> This view has now been adopted by several States including the Czech Republic<ref>Czech Republic, [https://www.nukib.cz/download/publications_en/CZ%20Statement%20-%20OEWG%20-%20International%20Law%2011.02.2020.pdf Statement by Mr. Richard Kadlčák, Special Envoy for Cyberspace, 2nd substantive session of the Open-ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security] (11 February 2020), stating that ‘[t]he Czech Republic concurs with those considering the principle of sovereignty as an independent right and the respect to sovereignty as an independent obligation.’</ref>, France,<ref>French Ministry of the Armies, ‘[https://www.defense.gouv.fr/content/download/567648/9770527/file/international+law+applied+to+operations+in+cyberspace.pdf International Law Applied to Operations in Cyberspace]’, 9 September 2019, stating that ‘Any unauthorised penetration by a State of French systems or any production of effects on French territory via a digital vector may constitute, at the least, a breach of sovereignty’.</ref> Germany<ref>Norbert Riedel, ‘[https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/newsroom/news/150518-ca-b-chatham-house/271832 Cyber Security as a Dimension of Security Policy]’ (18 May 2015), arguing that ‘[e]ven in cases where one cannot speak of a use of force, the use of cyber capabilities might constitute a violation of sovereignty, if the attack can be attributed to a state, which then in turn could lead to consequences within the confines of public international law’.</ref> and the Netherlands.<ref>Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ‘[https://www.government.nl/ministries/ministry-of-foreign-affairs/documents/parliamentary-documents/2019/09/26/letter-to-the-parliament-on-the-international-legal-order-in-cyberspace Letter to the parliament on the international legal order in cyberspace]’ (5 July 2019), stating that ‘countries may not conduct cyber operations that violate the sovereignty of another country’.</ref>
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The remainder of this section proceeds on the basis of the former “sovereignty-as-rule” approach. Those espousing the latter “sovereignty-as-principle” approach should refer to other relevant sections of the legal analysis (such as that on the [[prohibition of intervention]]).
 
The remainder of this section proceeds on the basis of the former “sovereignty-as-rule” approach. Those espousing the latter “sovereignty-as-principle” approach should refer to other relevant sections of the legal analysis (such as that on the [[prohibition of intervention]]).
  
It is understood that sovereignty has both an internal and an external component.<ref>Cf. James Crawford, ''Brownlie's Principles of Public International Law'' (OUP 2012) 448.</ref> In the cyber context, the “internal” facet of sovereignty entails that “[a] State enjoys sovereign authority with regard to the cyber infrastructure, persons, and cyber activities located within its territory, subject to its international legal obligations.”<ref name=":3"> [https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316822524 Tallinn Manual 2.0], rule 2.</ref><ref>Sovereignty over cyber infrastructure derives from the traditional concept of sovereignty, independent of the use of cyberspace. See Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg, '[https://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.ee/&httpsredir=1&article=1027&context=ils Territorial Sovereignty and Neutrality in Cyberspace]' (2013) 89 Int’l L. Stud. 123 (noting that '[t]erritorial sovereignty [..] implies that, subject to applicable customary or conventional rules of international law, the State alone is entitled to exercise jurisdiction, especially by subjecting objects and persons within its territory to domestic legislation and to enforce these rules.')</ref>
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It is understood that sovereignty has both an internal and an external component.<ref>Cf. James Crawford, ''Brownlie's Principles of Public International Law'' (OUP 2012) 448</ref> In the cyber context, the “internal” facet of sovereignty entails that “[a] State enjoys sovereign authority with regard to the cyber infrastructure, persons, and cyber activities located within its territory, subject to its international legal obligations.”<ref name=":3"> [https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316822524 Tallinn Manual 2.0], rule 2.</ref><ref>Sovereignty over cyber infrastructure derives from the traditional concept of sovereignty, independent of the use of cyberspace. See Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg, '[https://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.ee/&httpsredir=1&article=1027&context=ils Territorial Sovereignty and Neutrality in Cyberspace]' (2013) 89 Int’l L. Stud. 123 (noting that '[t]erritorial sovereignty [..] implies that, subject to applicable customary or conventional rules of international law, the State alone is entitled to exercise jurisdiction, especially by subjecting objects and persons within its territory to domestic legislation and to enforce these rules.')</ref>
  
 
As a general rule, each State must respect the sovereignty of other States.<ref>UN GA Res 2625 (XXV) (24 October 1970) (Friendly Relations Declaration), preamble (emphasizing “that the purposes of the United Nations can be implemented only if States enjoy sovereign equality and comply fully with the requirements of this principle in their international relations”); [https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316822524 Tallinn Manual 2.0], rule 4.</ref> It is clear that a cyber operation with severe destructive effects, comparable to a “non-cyber” armed attack or a use of force against a State, constitutes a violation of its sovereignty; however, with more subtle cyber operations, the question is far from settled.<ref>[https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316822524 Tallinn Manual 2.0], commentary to rule 4, para 5 and 12.</ref>
 
As a general rule, each State must respect the sovereignty of other States.<ref>UN GA Res 2625 (XXV) (24 October 1970) (Friendly Relations Declaration), preamble (emphasizing “that the purposes of the United Nations can be implemented only if States enjoy sovereign equality and comply fully with the requirements of this principle in their international relations”); [https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316822524 Tallinn Manual 2.0], rule 4.</ref> It is clear that a cyber operation with severe destructive effects, comparable to a “non-cyber” armed attack or a use of force against a State, constitutes a violation of its sovereignty; however, with more subtle cyber operations, the question is far from settled.<ref>[https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316822524 Tallinn Manual 2.0], commentary to rule 4, para 5 and 12.</ref>

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