Cyberwarfare: Exploring the Inadequacies of Classical International Humanitarian Law


  • Khizar Ahmad Lawyer and academic in (Azad) Jammu & Kashmir
  • Fatima Sajid Bahauddin Zakariya University
  • Wejden Bourkrain Faculté des Sciences Juridiques, Politiques et Sociales, Tunisia


International Humanitarian Law, Cyberwar, cyberwarfare, Technology Warfare, Lex Lata, Tallinn Manual, International Group of Experts (IGE), Exploring the Inadequacies of Classical International Humanitarian Law in Cyberwarfare


Cyberwarfare is a creation of the tech era that grew rapidly in the past three decades. Cyber operations have unveiled the massive potential of cyberwarfare capabilities to cause havoc in the real world. Technology has facilitated individuals, states, and other non-state actors to engage in coercive actions. It, therefore, becomes crucial to investigate the adequacy of classical International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to cater to the vicissitudes of technology warfare. This paper seeks to examine the relationship between IHL and cyberwarfare. It investigates the present legal regimes applicable to cyberwarfare and evaluates the applicability and limitations of the current rules of IHL, lex lata, to cyber operations. It discusses the ‘Tallinn Manual, a comprehensive study by an International Group of Experts (IGE) on the international law of cyberwarfare. The paper aims to provide a realistic and critical perspective on the current legal approaches to cyber-warfare. The paper emphasises that the applicability of IHL is essential in the present world, and the rapidly growing technologies necessitate the parallel growth of IHL. This article underscores the absence of a legally binding International Law Convention that specifically governs cyberwarfare within the international realm as the rapidly evolving nature of cyberwarfare demands clear rules and regulations to govern cyber operations. Such a convention would promote adherence to international law in cyberspace and encourage cooperation between states in addressing cyber threats.