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Attribution and Cyber Operations Conducted by Non-State Actors on Behalf of States

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Title: Attribution and Cyber Operations Conducted by Non-State Actors on Behalf of States
Author(s): Lohu, Kätlin
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law
Discipline: International law
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2020
The assumption that international law applies in cyberspace is widely accepted. In its 2013 and 2015 reports, the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Advancing Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace in the Context of International Security concluded that international law, particularly the United Nations Charter, is applicable to the use of ICTs. In recent years, several states have attributed cyber operations to other states. In practice, however, international legal framework has never been used to respond to these acts. Therefore, based on the assertation that state conduct is regulated by international legal norms, the author of this thesis aims to answer to the central research question: how international law concerning the responsibility of states for internationally wrongful acts applies and with what effect on cyber operations conducted by non-state actors? The author argues that the law of state responsibility does not provide a solution. Although at first glance, Article 8 of ILC Articles appears to be clear and settled: in order to establish state responsibility, one of the terms ‘instructions’, ‘direction’ and ‘control’ has to be established. But as the author considered the writings of international legal scholars and corresponding jurisprudence, it appeared that it has not been well-developed in the law of state responsibility and therefore is opened to misinterpretations. Thus, the answer to the research question posed at the beginning of this thesis is negative. However, for the future research, the author suggests that the principle of due diligence and state liability regime might be considered as a new perspective alongside the state responsibility regime.
Keyword(s): state responsibility due diligence non-state actors cyber operations cyberspace

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