Controlling Behavior – Not Arms: Moving Forward On An International Convention For Cyberspace

  • Ramtin Amin
| Sep. 03, 2010


The rapidly increasing occurrence of cyber attacks and the growing use of the cyber domain for politically motivated purposes during both times of war and peace by both state and non-state actors has precipitated a dire need of an international convention to control behavior in cyberspace. While arms control conventions exist for the nuclear, chemical, and biological modes of warfare occurring at land, sea, space, and air, no such treaty is in place for the latest domain, whose tactical importance is now of vital importance for the global communication infrastructure and domestic military capabilities. In this paper, I will first extrapolate upon the current legal landscape pertinent to cyber arms and crime, and explore the limitations of current international laws that have been most often cited during past instances of cyber attacks. I will further explore a number of arms control drafts that have been proposed over the years, and highlight some of the lessons learned, with the aim of providing a constructive analysis to aid international lawmakers and affiliated institutions who are less familiar with the meta-physical cyber domain, and the unique challenges it presents. Finally, I will analyze the following five essential elements of a future global cyber convention: terms and definitions regarding cyber arms; peaceful use of cyber technology; signatory obligations regarding private actors; attribution; and mechanisms for deterrence. In exploring these fundamental themes, I will demonstrate why and how a future convention for cyberspace should focus on controlling behavior, rather than dwelling on a counterproductive goal of arms control.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Amin, Ramtin. “Controlling Behavior – Not Arms: Moving Forward On An International Convention For Cyberspace.” Paper, September 3, 2010.

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