Professor Mike Schmitt

Exeter Law Professor Launches New Book on Cyber Law during Global Tour

Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations was launched by Exeter Law School Professor Mike Schmitt during a global tour in February.

The book, published by Cambridge University Press, is the culmination of a seven-year project that Schmitt directed under the auspices of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.  The project brought together a team of 19 world class international law experts to examine how international law applies in this new domain of conflict, both during peacetime and during armed conflict.  Since its initiation in 2009, the project has drawn global attention.  Its findings have been the subject of many conferences, scholarly research, and widespread news commentary.  Additionally, over 50 States and international organizations participated in a series of meetings sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to afford them the opportunity to provide input to the experts from the perspective of the participating States and organizations regarding cyber operations by States and non-State actors like hacker groups and terrorists.

The first launch (webcast) was held at the Atlantic Council in Washington on February 8, with speeches by the Dutch ambassador to the United States and the former President of Estonia.  Schmitt then travelled to the Hague for the European launch, where the Dutch Foreign Minister opened the proceedings on February 13. In his speech, the Minister noted,

“We have every reason to celebrate!  The Tallinn Manual reduces ambiguity and uncertainty. It reduces malicious actors’ room for manoeuvre. The manual shows that cyberspace is not simply a jungle, where the strong do what they want and the weak suffer what they must. The law applies there just as it does elsewhere. Especially in times of tension and conflict, the law should not be silent.”

The NATO Legal Advisor and the former Estonian Foreign Minister also spoke at the event, which was hosted by the TMC Asser Institute.

Tallinn Manual 2.0 was then launched on February 17 in Tallinn, where the team worked on the manual, at that nation’s Academy of Sciences.  The Dutch Ambassador to Estonia spoke first, followed by a panel that included the Principal Legal Adviser to the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The final launch was held at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra on February 24 February.  Speaking there were the Dutch Ambassador to Australia and eminent Australian academics.

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is using Tallinn Manual 2.0 in a capacity building project to train and educate government lawyers and policy makers around the world.  This “Hague Process” will also include an effort by the Dutch to use the Manual as the basis for multilateral discussion designed to foster consensus among governments as to the norms governing cyberspace.

For his leadership of the Tallinn Manual project, Professor Schmitt was awarded the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana by the President on the occasion of the 99th anniversary of the Estonian Republic.

Date: 16 March 2017

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