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Which measures – technical, policy, and legal – should states put in place to avoid or at least reduce the risk of civilian harm from military cyber operations during armed conflicts?
We asked undergraduate students to explore the subject in an essay competition organized as part of our joint research project with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the digitalization of armed conflict.
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In her winning essay, Digital Safe Havens: Sheltering Civilians From Military Cyber Operations, Isabelle Peart brings forward novel suggestions on how to reduce the risk of harm to civilians posed by military cyber operations.
The author, who pursues a Bachelor of Economics/Laws Degree at the University of Queensland in Australia, demonstrated a clear understanding of international humanitarian law, adapted the little-known concept of demilitarized zones to the cyber context, and – on that basis – made a compelling argument for the establishment of international digital safe havens.
This paper will be published in the ICRC Humanitarian Law & Policy Blog this summer, as part of a series on avoiding civilian harm during military cyber operations.
Tatjana Grote from the University of Leipzig arrived second, and the third place is shared by Ju Zhao from the George Washington University and Zahbea Zahra from the Kinnaird College for Women in Pakistan.
‘Even though a competition can only have one winner, I would like to congratulate all participants who took the time and effort to do research and share with us their thoughts on this important subject. At the ICRC, we hope they will maintain their interest in this important field as they continue their studies and beyond. We have learned a lot from the creative and innovative ideas expressed by the students and I am sure many of them will inspire our work in the future’ says Laurent Gisel, co-chair of the international expert jury and Head of the Arms and Conduct of Hostilities Unit at the ICRC.
‘Reducing the risk of civilian harm from military cyber operations is at the forefront of current protection questions during armed conflicts. Hearing from the young generation – who can look at this issue with fresh eyes and propose out of the box solutions – is therefore key to ensure the continued relevance of international humanitarian law in these contexts. This is why the essay competition specifically targeted undergraduate students from various backgrounds’ underlines Professor Gloria Gaggioli, Director of the Geneva Academy.
In total, 62 entries were received from 29 different countries.
The UN Security Council and Common Article 1: Understanding the Role of Peacekeeping Operations in Ensuring Respect for IHL examines the applicability of article 1 common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 – on the obligation to respect and ensure respect for IHL – to the UN, with a specific focus on peacekeeping operations.
Olivier Chamard/Geneva Academy
Our Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on International Humanitarian Law Dr Annyssa Bellal will discuss IHL monitoring and compliance at a High-Level Side Event during the UN General Assembly Ministerial Week.
In this online event co-organized with the ATLAS Network, prominent women in international law will share their experience and advice through an interactive discussion.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, will cover the ‘nuts and bolts’ of implementation, including national legislation, dissemination and training, and discuss the mechanisms such as the International Fact-Finding Commission, as set out in the treaties.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, provides an overview of the evolution of the rules governing the use of force in international law, focusing on military intervention on humanitarian grounds and the creation of the United Nations collective security system. It then addresses the concept of the responsibility to protect.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
This research aims at building a common understanding and vision as to how states and the relevant parts of the UN system can provide a concrete and practical framework to address human rights responsibilities of armed non-state actors.