New manual offers 95 rules for cyber warfare

The effort to create a legal framework for cyber warfare has taken a giant leap with the creation by international legal scholars of 95 “black-letter rules” set forth in a manual designed for international distribution and use that can be applied to cyber dust-ups around the globe, NATO officials said.

The “Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare” was developed over a three-year period and addresses a wide range of topics, including sovereignty, state responsibility, humanitarian law, the law of neutrality and other relevant matters, said the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE).

Importantly, the 300-page manual also addresses the concept and principles of jus ad bellum, which governs the use of force under international law, and jus in bello, which pertains to conduct in armed conflict.

The manual might be useful to the U.S. Defense Department as it finalizes guidelines for cyber warfare by providing additional insight into complex legal aspects related to cyber warfare, said cyber and legal experts familiar with the manual.

The Tallinn Manual is the result of a three-year project by 20 international law scholars and practitioners to provide clarity on matters related to cyber warfare, a topic that has become more murky with each passing year.

An extensive commentary is provided along with each rule in the manual in an effort to frame the rule’s basis in treaty and customary law. The authors explain how they went about interpreting applicable norms in the cyber context and log any disagreements among them regarding each rule’s application.

Tallinn Manual is not an official document, but instead an expression of opinions of a group of independent experts acting solely in their personal capacity, CCDOE officials said. As such, it does not reflect NATO doctrine, they said.

The manual is available in paper and electronic from Cambridge University Press. The manual also can be accessed on the CCDCOE website.

 

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