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“Meždunarodnoe pravosudie” (International Justice) Journal

№ 1 (25) 2018

The international legal principle of non-interference and cyber-operations: unjustified expectations?

Vera Rusinova - Doctor of Sciences in Law, Professor, Faculty of Law, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia.

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2018-1-38-52

Abstract. This article accesses whether and to what extent the principle of non-intervention into matters within domestic jurisdictions, which is one of the basic principles of International Law, is applicable and able to effectively deter so called “low-intensity cyber-operations”, i. e. computer network attacks which do not fall under the notion of “use of force”. For this purpose, the author tries to clarify the content and scope of application of this principle in International Law and comes to the conclusion that relevant acts of “soft law”, by leaving the concrete shape of this principle foggy, reflect a comfortable compromise reached between states. As such, the impact of pronouncements made by the International Court of Justice in Nicaragua v. USA, which is still regarded as a key judgment in this sphere, is rather overestimated. As a result, it is concluded that the principle of non-intervention in its international legal dimension, though being able to restrain the flagrant and direct interference of other states, because of its limited scope, combined with a high level of “legal uncertainty” surrounding its basic elements, is not able to play a role of an effective instrument combatting cyber-operations. Moreover, a mixture of legal and political approaches, accompanying the application of this principle, becomes an obstacle for the crystallization of new international customs that might regulate the specifics of cyber-attacks.

Keywords: principle of non-intervention; cyber-operations; domaine réservé; International Court of Justice; sovereignty; Tallinn Manual.

Citation: Rusinova V. (2018) Mezhdunarodno-pravovoy printsip nevmeshatel'stva i kiberoperatsii: neopravdannye ozhidaniya? [The international legal principle of non interference and cyber-operations: unjustified expectations?]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, no. 1, pp. 38–52. (In Russian).

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