Les cyberattaques étatiques constituent-elles des actes d’agression en vertu du droit international public ? : Première partie

Volume 46, No 1
Evelyne Akoto

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The Charter of the United Nations, drafted to address the perils of high intensity conflicts, does not seem, at first glance, capable of answering the legal challenges raised by the rapid conception and development of new technologies. Information technology infrastructures, having become the hotspots of our modern societies, have now rendered states vulnerable to a new protean and insidious threat: the state cyber attack. Indeed, if subversion and low intensity conflicts were the chosen means of the great powers during the Cold War, the buildup of nuclear capabi lities by more and more states, has made state cyberattacks, the perfect tool to reach the same hegemonic ambitions.

This article will examine whether a state cyberattack qualifies as an act of aggression according to the criteria set out by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3314. The first section, published in the present issue, will provide an overview of the notion of “state cyberattack” and will illustrate it with the description of the cyberattacks against Estonia in 2007, Georgia in 2008 and Iran in 2011. In conclusion, a brief presentation of the challenges raised by state cyberattacks with regards to the maintenance of international peace and security. The second section, to be published in the second issue of the present volume, will review state-sponsored cyberattacks in light of the international norms pertaining to the prohibition of aggression.

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