Estonian names remain in the forefront of cyber security, as demonstrated by the launch of the Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations. The new volume was introduced this month at the Atlantic Council by members of the international team of experts that helped create it and other experts in the field. It’s a relevant and comprehensive work at a time when cyber issues have become a major national security consideration.
The original Tallinn Manual was published in 2013 as a non-binding analysis of how existing international law pertains to cyber warfare and cyber conflicts. It concentrated on cyber operations that were targeted at the state level and were significant enough to allow nations to respond in self-defense. Since cyber attacks that don’t meet the threshold for armed response have become more prevalent, the updated edition is expanded to focus on a wider range of international law and cyber operations.
The drafting of the manual and its predecessor was led by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) in Tallinn. The team of expert authors in international law and information technology came from member nations of the CCD COE. Both editions of the manual were published by Cambridge University Press.
The launch was attended by several notable Estonians and friends of Estonia. The Centre’s director, Mr. Sven Sakkov, former Estonia Ministry of Defence Undersecretary for Defence Policy, and the director of the Tallinn 2.0 initiative, Professor Michael Schmidt of the U.S. Naval War College and the University of Exeter, were among the presenters. The Centre’s legal advisor, Ms. Liis Vihul, served as the manual’s Managing Editor and also briefed on its creation. Former President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, addressed the launch’s audience at the reception following the event.
The manual is intended as a reference source for nations’ legal advisors interested in the application of international law to cyber operations. It provides agreed-to norms and principles informed by states and international organizations rather than actual legal code. The authors were careful to capture all reasonable views on the issues to guide interpretation by states to help them make appropriate legal decisions on cases in their jurisdiction.
The CCD COE is a research, education and training facility accredited by NATO. It currently has 17 sponsoring member nations that staff and finance the Centre, and as such, it is not part of NATO’s military command structure. The manual represents the views of its authors and is not an official publication of NATO, its member nations or any other state or organization. More information on the Centre and manual is available at https://ccdcoe.org. The write-up and webcast of the launch event is posted at Atlantic Council’s website under Recent Events.