Ethics of Cyber Conflict


Ethics of Cyber Conflict


21-22 Nov 2013



Centre for High Defence Studies (CASD), Rome, Italy

Participation fee:

No participation fee

The workshop was organised by the Centre (co-directed by Lt Ludovica Glorioso and Anna Maria Osula) and chaired by Dr Mariarosaria Taddeo, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick. The event was targeted to ethicists, experts in military studies, policymakers and experts in cyber security to discuss the ethical problems caused by cyber conflicts.

Over recent years the military, international lawyers, ethicists and policymakers have shown an increasing interest in whether and how current policies and international law are applicable to cyber warfare. Responding to this growing attention, the goal of the Centre’s ethics project has been to examine the need for innovative and more effective ethical analyses of cyber conflict and cyber warfare, domains that should not be seen as the exclusive concern of the military. The analysis has focused on clarifying the ethical principles prominent in cyber conflict, and specifying ethical guidelines for the endorsement of such principles in policies and regulations.

The Centre’s project culminated in the ‘Workshop on Ethics of Cyber Conflict’ which brought together proclaimed experts from all over the world and featured presentations from both invited speakers and from authors selected by a peer review process. The international audience of approximately 50 participants included representatives with military, academic, legal and policy backgrounds. The videos of the presentations and the proceedings are available in the Centre's Multimedia Library.

The workshop’s main purpose – to engage international experts in discussing topical issues related to ethics and cyber defence – is now reinforced in the format of workshop proceedings. The articles in the workshop proceedings are the result of vigorous individual academic research and do not reflect in any way NATO’s or NATO CCD COE’s opinion or official policy. They do exhibit, however, the lively debate of the workshop, and put forward authors’ (sometimes provocative) ideas related to the ethical aspects of a number of issues such as ‘Just War Theory’ in cyber conflict, cyber warfare, cyber espionage and the status of cyber combatants, and the ethical bases of law. As can be inferred from the topical questions set out in many of the articles, well-established disciplines (such as ethics and law) may incline to significantly different approaches to interpreting principles related to the ethical “bottlenecks” of cyber defence which is in itself an indication of a clear need for further discussions over these matters.

The proceedings can be downloaded from here.

Articles from the workshop were published by Springer in a “Cyber Conflicts: Addressing the Regulatory Gap” speacial issue.