BRICS Law Journal

Advanced search


Full Text:


Given the increasing role and use of cyberspace in our daily lives, it is important to consider the large-scale dynamics of the cyber forum. Shifting the focus from individuals to nation states as participants that engage in activities in cyberspace raises doubts over the status of nations in this domain. Do they continue to remain sovereign entities on such a platform? Do they have the right to defend themselves against attacks from other nations? These questions have been subject to a lot of debate in the context of international law. The aim of this paper is to study the implications of the principle of state sovereignty and selfdefence in cyberspace. The paper focuses on two prime considerations of sovereignty and self-defence in the context of cyberspace and its link to international law. Thus the scope is limited to concepts such as territorial jurisdiction, sovereignty, attribution and selfdefence. While doing so, the researcher seeks to answer questions such as, Is international law applicable to cyberspace? Can cyberspace be called a sovereign domain? Do principles of territorial jurisdiction apply to cyberspace? How does the attribution mechanism work in cyberspace? Under what circumstances are states permitted to exercise the right of self-defence against cyber attacks? and What are the deficiencies in international law governing cyberspace?

About the Author

Pallavi Khanna
High Court of Delhi.

Pallavi Khanna (New Delhi, India) – Judicial Clerk-cum-law researcher at the hon’ble high Court of Delhi.

B 52 Hill View Apartments, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi, 110057.


1. Allan C.s. Attribution Issues in Cyberspace, 13(2) Kent Journal of international and Comparative Law 78 (2013).

2. Delibasis D. State Use of Force in Cyberspace for Self-Defence: A New Challenge for a New Century, 8 Peace Conflict and Development: an interdisciplinary Journal 13 (2006).

3. Franzese P.W. Sovereignty in Cyberspace: Can It Exist?, 64 air Force law Review 1 (2009).

4. Goldsmith J.L. The Internet and the Abiding Significance of Territorial Sovereignty, 5(2) Indiana Journal of global studies 475 (1998).

5. Heinegg W.H.v. Legal Implications of Territorial Sovereignty in Cyberspace in 4th In-ternational Conference on Cyber Conflict 7 (C. Czosseck et al. (eds.), Tallinn: NATO CCD CoE Publications, 2012).

6. Hoisington M. Cyberwarfare and the Use of Force Giving Rise to the Right ofSelf-Defense, 32(2) Boston College international and Comparative law review 439 (2009).

7. Hojatzadeh A. & Jafari A. Cyber-attacks and Jus Ad Bellum, 1 (2) international Journal of humanities and social sciences 76 (2014).

8. Jensen E.T. Cyber Sovereignty: The Way Ahead, 50(2) Texas international law Journal 275 (2015).

9. Kesan J.P. & Hayes C.M. Mitigative Counterstriking: Self-Defense and Deterrence in Cyberspace, 25(2) harvard Journal of law & Technology 415 (2012).

10. Kesan J.P. & Hayes C.M. Self Defense in Cyberspace: Law and Policy, illinois Public law and legal Theory research Paper series No. 11-16 (2011).

11. Koh H.H. International Law in Cyberspace, Yale law school Faculty scholarship series, Paper 4854 (2012).

12. lewis J.A. A Note on the Laws of War in Cyberspace, Center for strategic and inter-national studies (April 2010).

13. Li S. When Does Internet Denial Trigger the Right of Armed Self-Defense?, 38(1) Yale Journal of international law 179 (2013).

14. Lotrionte C. State Sovereignty and Self-defense in Cyberspace: A Normative Frame-work for Balancing Legal Rights, 26(1) Emory international law review 825 (2012).

15. Perritt H.H., Jr. Cyberspace and State Sovereignty, 3 Journal of international legal studies 155 (1997).

16. Poche C.C. This Means War! (Maybe?) - Clarifying Casus Belli in Cyberspace, 15 Oregon Review of international Law 413 (2013).

17. Roscini M. World Wide Warfare - Jus ad bellum and the Use of Cyber Force, 14 Max Plank Yearbook of united Nations law 85 (2010).

18. Schmitt M.N. The Law of Cyber Warfare: Quo Vadis?, 25(2) stanford law & Policy review 275 (2014).

19. Shackelford SW.J. & Andres R.B. State Responsibility for Cyber Attacks: Competing Standards for a Growing Problem, 42(4) Georgetown Journal of international Law 971 (2010-2011).

20. Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare (M.N. Schmitt (ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).


For citations:


Views: 2322

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

ISSN 2409-9058 (Print)
ISSN 2412-2343 (Online)