On Thursday, March 28, 2013 the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, in cooperation with the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security, hosted the release of the Tallinn Manual, a new treatise that outlines how standards of international law can be applied to the cyber domain.

The event took place at The University Club Ballroom, and was broadcast live on C-SPAN.

The Tallinn Manual is the result of the deliberations of a group of distinguished international law practitioners and scholars who were brought together to examine how existing legal norms could be applied to conflict in the cyber domain. This project began in 2009 when the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence (NATO CCD COE) invited these experts to produce a manual on the law governing cyber warfare. The Tallinn Manual focuses heavily on the principles of jus ad bellum, the international law governing the resort to force by States as an instrument of their national policy, and jus in bello, the international law regulating the conduct of armed conflict. This manual does not focus on cybersecurity, but rather how international laws regarding warfare can be adapted to fit similar conflicts in cyberspace. It is a unique document in terms of both the topics explored, and the significant depth of an analysis on these pertinent, contemporary issues.

The release event began with Col. Artur Suzik, director of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence, who introduced the panel and provided context for the manual’s findings. The panel discussion featured Gary Brown, deputy legal advisor of the Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada at the International Committee of the Red Cross; Jason Healey, director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council; Professor Michael Schmitt, chairman of the International Law Department at the US Naval War College; and Harvey Rishikof, chair of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security Advisory Committee, who served as the panel’s moderator.

This event provided participants with the opportunity to learn about Applying Law to the New Face of Modern Warfare and hear experts comment how the Tallinn Manual does not so much change existing laws, but rather encourages that existing law be applied distinctly in the cyber domain. Moderator Harvey Rishikof encouraged the panelists to express their views on whether the findings of the manual change how states should operate in cyberspace. Cyber Statecraft Initiative director Jason Healey clarified misrepresentations of the manual’s conclusions by the media and discussed how the manual guides cyber practitioners, entices thoughtful commentators to build on their work, and best of all, exposes charlatans who ask questions but never provide answers.

The Atlantic Council will be hosting a major event entitled, Cyber 9/12 Project: Statecraft After Catastrophes, to engage cyber professionals in further discussion of these topics. The event will take place on April 12, 2013 in the Knight Studio of the Newseum and will feature a simulated exercise of what would occur in the event of a cyber attack from an adversarial nation. The Atlantic Council will continue to strive to offer events that bring together leading professionals in the cyber industry.

Related Experts: Jason Healey