The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) organized an online panel discussion on Wednesday 16 June 2021 at 14:00 CEST, to discuss and introduce its new report on Avoiding Civilian Harm from Military Cyber Operations during Armed Conflicts. The webinar unpacked issues around the conduct of military cyber operations and answered questions on how to assess and avoid the risk of civilian harm.
States remain reluctant to disclose or even discuss their military cyber capabilities, including the ways in which those capabilities are employed during armed conflicts. This makes developing an understanding of the assessment and mitigation by the armed forces of the risk to civilians particularly challenging. As part of its work on monitoring the development of new technologies that are, or could be, used as means and methods of warfare during armed conflicts, the ICRC brought together a group of independent experts in January 2020. This group included participants with practical experience in carrying out military cyber operations, cyber security strategists and analysts, and academics with relevant expertise. They analyzed and exchanged views about the conduct of military cyber operations, including the assessment of the risk of civilian harm and the procedures and practices that might be employed to mitigate that risk.
This June, the ICRC published the results from this meeting and welcomed everyone to join the presentation of the report during the webinar "How to avoid civilian harm during military cyber operations" on 16 June 2021. During the event, an international panel of experts provided answers to questions such as:
- How do armed forces assess and measure the risk of causing civilian harm in cyberspace?
- In which ways is the ongoing militarization of cyberspace creating risks for the civilian population?
- How have military cyber operations been used during armed conflicts so far, and how is such use likely to evolve in the future?
- What measures can be put in place to avoid (or at least reduce) the risk of civilian harm from military cyber operations during armed conflicts?
The webinar was followed by several discussion pieces about these and many more questions, on ICRC's Humanitarian Law & Policy blog. During the event, Laurent Gisel, co-chair of the international expert jury, announced the three best essays from the ICRC and Geneva Academy student essay competition. The winning essay will feature in the blog series later this summer.
If you have any further questions about the event, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- ICRC, "The potential human cost of cyber operations", May 2019
- ICRC, "International humanitarian law and cyber operations during armed conflicts: ICRC position paper", November 2019
- Tilman Rodenhäuser and Kubo Mačák, Even 'cyber wars' have limits. But what if they didn't? March 9, 2021
- Kubo Mačák, Tatiana Jančárková and Tomáš Minárik, The right tool for the job: how does international law apply to cyber operations? October 6, 2020
- Noëlle van der Waag-Cowling, Living below the cyber poverty line: strategic challenges for Africa, June 11, 2020
- Massimo Marelli, Martin Schüepp, Hacking humanitarians: operational dialogue and cyberspace, June 4, 2020
- Call by global leaders: work together now to stop cyberattacks on the healthcare sector, May 26, 2020
- Kubo Mačák, Tilman Rodenhäuser and Laurent Gisel, Cyber attacks against hospitals and the COVID-19 pandemic: How strong are international law protections? April 2, 2020