Review of "Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare"
Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare. Edited by Michael N. Schmitt. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Pp. xix, 282. Index. $120, cloth; $58.99, paper.
In 2009, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (NATO CCD COE) in Tallinn, Estonia, invited a group of independent experts--the International Group of Experts (IGE)--on the law of armed conflict to produce a manual on cyber warfare. The drafters, led by Michael N. Schmitt, who chairs the international law department at the U.S. Naval War College, included a mix of well-regarded practitioners, academics, and technical experts, as well as observers from NATO's Allied Command Transformation, U.S. Cyber Command, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Over the course of several years, the IGE developed the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare. The Tallinn Manual provides a thorough and careful analysis of how the jus ad bellum and jus in bello translate to cyberspace, along with helpful descriptions of divisive issues that remain to be resolved through state practice and debate. Although the Tallinn Manual's reliance on the Western and NATO-centric perspectives of its drafters may hamper its acceptance in countries, such as China and Russia, that espouse very different visions for cyberspace, the Tallinn Manual offers an indispensable resource for scholars, practitioners, and policy makers.
The Tallinn Manual is designed to provide "some degree of clarity to the complex legal issues surrounding cyber operations" (p. 3) and, in particular, to describe "the applicable lex lata, that is, the law currently governing cyber conflict," not "lex ferenda, best practice, or preferred policy" (p. 5). The Tallinn Manual styles itself as a cyberwar incarnation of earlier nongovernmental codification or restatement efforts, including the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea (1) and the Manual on International Law Applicable to Air and Missile Warfare. (2) The introduction describes the Tallinn Manual as the product of an "expert-driven process designed to produce a non-binding document applying existing law to cyber warfare" (p. 1), and it takes pains to note that the Tallinn Manual is neither a NATO document, despite the sponsorship of the NATO CCD COE, nor a reflection of the official position of any state or organization from which the experts are drawn.