Treść głównego artykułu


This paper examines the profound challenges facing the principle of distinction in cyber warfare and contextualizes the nature of this new battlefield. The author emphasizes the importance of reaching consensus on the characterization of cyber operations as „attacks," regardless of their physical or non-physical effects, to ensure the continued relevance of the distinction principle; he also highlights the need for comprehensive legal frameworks tailored to the nuances of cyberspace and the urgent need to bridge the gap between traditional international humanitarian law and the unique challenges posed by digital conflict.  In addition, this paper addresses the compliance of Russian cyberattacks against Ukraine with the principle of distinction, highlighting the urgent need to examine the application of IHL in real-world cyber conflicts.

Słowa kluczowe

Cyberspace Warfare, International Humanitarian Law, Principle of Distinction, Cyberattacks, Civilian Protection. : Cyberspace Warfare International Humanitarian Law Principle of Distinction Cyberattacks Civilian Protection

Szczegóły artykułu

Biogram autora

S. Anandha Krishna Raj - Vellore Institute of Technology, School of Law, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Associate Professor of law


  1. Alberts David Stephen, John Garstka, Frederick P. Stein, Network Centric Warfare: Developing and Leveraging Information Superiority. CCRP Publication, 2005.
  2. Biggio Giacomo, „International Humanitarian Law and the Protection of the Civilian Population in Cyberspace: Towards a Human Dignity-Oriented Interpretation of the Notion of Cyber Attack under Article 49 of Additional Protocol I” The Military Law and the Law of War Review, No. 1 (2021): 114-140.
  3. Brantly Aaron, Max Smeets, „Military Operations in Cyberspace”, [in:] Handbook of Military Sciences. 1-16. Cham: Springer, 2020).
  4. Cyberspace and Instability, ed. Robert Chesney, James Shires, Max Smeets. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Presss, 2023.
  5. Cullen Anthony, The Concept of Non-International Armed Conflict [in:] International Humanitarian Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  6. Ducheine Paul, Terry Gill, From Cyber Operations to Effects: Some Targeting Issues. Dissertation, Militair Rechtelijk Tijdschrift, 2018.
  7. Geist Edward, „Deterrence Stability in the Cyber Age” Strategic Studies Quarterly, No. 4 (2015): 44–61.
  8. Gervais Michael, „Cyberattacks and the Laws of War” SSRN Electronic Journal, (2011).
  9. Government websites of Ukraine, Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine Cyberattack (CERT-UA), Distribution of Emails with „Instructions” on „updating the Operating System”., 28 April 2023.
  10. ICJ, Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, Advisory Opinion, 1996.
  11. Igakuboon Adasi Nsanawaji, „An Appraisal of the Legal Framework for the Protection of Civilians in Cyber-Warfare under International Humanitarian Law” International Journal of Research and Scientific Innovation, No. 7 (2022): 14-26.
  12. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), 8 June 1977
  13. International Committee of the Red Cross, International Humanitarian Law and Cyber Operations during Armed Conflicts, 27 October 2022.
  14. Johnson James, „The AI-Cyber Nexus: Implications for Military Escalation, Deterrence and Strategic Stability” Journal of Cyber Policy, No. 3 (2019): 442-460.
  15. Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations System, Cybersecurity in the United Nations System Organizations (JIU/REP/2021/3)., 2021.
  16. Mathonet Clara, Protection of Civilians in the Era of Cyber Warfare: A Critical Analysis of International Humanitarian Law Towards a Treaty Restricting the Use of Cyber Weapons. Thesis, University of Amsterdam, 2020.
  17. Mavropoulou Elizabeth, „Targeting in the Cyber Domain: Legal Challenges Arising from the Application of the Principle of Distinction to Cyberattacks” Journal of Law & Cyber Warfare, No. 2 (2015): 23-93.
  18. McDonald Jack, „Blind Justice? The Role of Distinction in Electronic Attacks” Ethics and Policies for Cyber Operations, (2016): 17-32.
  19. Melzer Nils, „The Principle of Distinction Between Civilians and Combatants”, [in:] The Oxford Handbook of International Law in Armed Conflict, ed. Andrew Clapham, Paola Gaeta. 296-331. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
  20. Microsoft, An Overview of Russia’s Cyberattack Activity in Ukraine Report, 22 April 2022.
  21. Richmond Jeremy, „Evolving Battlefields: Does Stuxnet Demonstrate a Need for Modifications to the Law of Armed Conflict?” Fordham International Law Journal, No. 3 (2012): 842-894.
  22. Rid Thomas, Peter McBurney, „Cyber-Weapons” The RUSI Journal, No. 1 (2012): 6-13.
  23. Schmitt Michael N., „Wired Warfare 3.0: Protecting the Civilian Population During Cyber Operations” International Review of the Red Cross, No. 910 (2019): 333-355.
  24. Schmitt Michael N., Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.
  25. Shackelford Scott J., „From Nuclear War to Net War: Analogizing Cyberattacks” International Law, No. 1 (2009): 191-250.
  26. Sharma Amit, „Cyber Wars: A Paradigm Shift from Means to Ends” Strategic Analysis, No. 1 (2010): 62-73.
  27. Sohail Humna, „Fault Lines in the Application of International Humanitarian Law to Cyberwarfare” Journal of Digital Forensics, Security and Law, (2022).