Topic: Virtual battlegrounds: cyber warfare and the law of war

Presenter: Dr Emily Crawford - Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Sydney Centre for International Law (SCIL) at the University of Sydney

Cyber war is presenting unique challenges to the existing law of armed conflict. Cyber warfare is essentially opaque - it is difficult, if not impossible, to quickly and accurately identify who launches the attack, and from where. This is problematic for the law of armed conflict because the law is based on the principle that, before you can lawfully target an individual or an installation, you must be able to determine whether they are a legitimate target. 

Computer-based attacks make carrying out this assessment difficult. Also complicating matters is that cyber-attacks can be conducted from, for instance, a computer based in an office block, in another country, far removed from the kinetic hostilities. Are the persons entering in the codes that disable an enemy's computer network, legitimate combatants? Is the office block a legitimate target? Can the computer programmers claim prisoner of war status? This presentation will look at the problems raised by the emergence of cyber warfare under the law of armed conflict. 

This seminar is presented by the TC Beirne School of Law, Research Seminar Series and the Centre for Public, International and Comparative Law (CPICL). All welcome, please register by emailing Beth Williams

Contact: Beth Williams, ph: 334 69350, email:

About Research Seminar Series

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