Self-defence

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Definition[edit | edit source]

Self-defence
A State may respond with force to a cyber operation that qualifies as an “armed attack” pursuant to the customary right to self-defence, as codified in Article 51 of the UN Charter. Most commentators consider only grave uses of force – typically, those that kill or injure persons or damage or destroy property – to constitute armed attacks.[1]

The United States, however, takes an outlier position, consistently arguing that any illegal use of force gives rise to the use of force in self-defence.[2]

In Nicaragua, the ICJ identified “scale and effects” as criteria upon which to judge whether a use of force constitutes an armed attack. In the Court’s view, only “the most grave” uses of force do so.[3] Thus, only cyber operations that seriously injure or kill a number of persons or cause significant damage to, or destruction of, property would undoubtedly constitute armed attacks.[4]

Appendixes[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  1. Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v United States of America) (Merits) [1986] ICJ Rep 14, para 95.
  2. US Department of Defense, Office of the General Counsel, Law of War Manual (June 2015), paras. 1.11.5.2, 16.3.3.1.
  3. Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v United States of America) (Merits) [1986] ICJ Rep 14, para 191.
  4. Tallinn Manual 2.0, commentary to rule 71, para 8.

Bibliography and further reading[edit | edit source]