The inaugural project of the new Center for International Law and Governance at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy is an interdisciplinary effort to evaluate the need, structure, and possibility for international law and organization to protect civilians from government-initiated cyber-attacks in peacetime. The mission of the Center is to promote sustainable and pragmatic solutions to managing global challenges, drawing on expertise from multiple disciplines. This project will proceed through coordinated research by a group of private sector experts, government personnel, and scholars, to be presented at a conference to be held at the Fletcher School in Medford MA on September 14-15, 2018.

The format of the project is a series of studies on different aspects of the topic:  (i) attribution, (ii) standards for industry robustness, (iii) export controls to limit proliferation, (iv) vulnerability disclosure, and (v) compliance.  For each study, we have invited a legal, social science or governmental expert and a computer scientist or other technical expert to co-author a paper. At the conference, we will have other experts to comment on the studies.   The papers are expected to be published in the European Journal of International Law.

The overarching goal of the project is to integrate technical knowledge with legal analysis in order to evaluate and propose international legal and institutional arrangements for protecting civilian institutions and infrastructure. These could range from hard law overseen by formal multilateral intergovernmental institutions to voluntary standards implemented by a group of like-minded countries and/or private sector actors.  For each paper we have asked the authors to explain the nature of the problem, the technical issues involved, and the potential legal/institutional responses. Depending on the particular topic, specific questions that will be considered include:

  • What are the technical elements of the problem?
  • What elements of the problem require action at the international (as opposed to domestic) level?
  • What are the political constraints to action at that level? What are the opportunities and incentives?
  • What existing law and institutions apply to the problem?
  • What new law, guidelines or standards are required?
  • What new institutional arrangements are needed?

We expect the studies to include specific proposals for new law and/or institutions, if appropriate, as well as a plan of action on how to implement the proposals.

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