The UK views
international law as “a critical tool for ensuring stability and security in cyberspace”. In accordance with the 2013, 2015 and 2021 UNGGE reports as well the 2021 OEWG report, the UK has affirmed
that international law, including the UN Charter in its entirety, applies in cyberspace; a position paper notably states
that “we do not consider it is for States to pick and choose which international law instruments are applicable”. This includes the prohibition of the use of force (Article 2(4)), the peaceful settlement of disputes (Article 33) and the inherent right of states to act in self-defence in response to an armed attack (Article 51). The law of state responsibility applies to cyber operations in peacetime, including the doctrine of countermeasures in response to internationally wrongful acts. Meanwhile, the country has professed
a strong commitment to the respect of human rights law in cyberspace, co-sponsoring the 2012
UN Human Rights Council resolutions on the protection, promotion and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet. Likewise, the UK believes
in the application of international humanitarian law (IHL) to cyber operations in armed conflict. In response to concerns expressed by other states that this might lead to an undue ‘militarisation’ of cyberspace, the UK has responded
that the application of IHL does not encourage armed conflict but only serves to limit humanitarian consequences in the event of such conflict. In addition, the country has stated
and that there are ways for cyber capabilities to be developed in a manner “consistent with international law” and called on states to be transparent about the existence of their own capabilities. Those statements do not entirely dismiss the idea of cyberspace as a new military domain, with the British position at the OEWG being
that “the use of ICTs in military contexts may be preferable to use of kinetic weapons and can be de-escalatory”. The UK is against the establishment of new, binding international instruments to regulate state behaviour in cyberspace, arguing
that “pursuing […] the development of new treaties is only likely to entrench existing divides in this area and will progress us no further on the question of how International Law applies”.
As a member of the 2015 Group of Governmental Experts (UNGGE) and as per the Seoul Framework for and Commitment to an Open and Secure Cyberspace
, the ROK recognises
that international law, and in particular the UN Charter, is applicable in cyberspace and essential for maintaining security and stability as well as promoting an open, secure, peaceful, and accessible ICT environment.
The country also acknowledges
that cybersecurity must go hand-in-hand with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments. The ROK notably co-sponsored the Human Rights Council Resolutions 20/8
concerning the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet.
The country supports
the idea of increasing interstate engagement and exchanging national views on how international law applies in cyberspace, both at the multilateral level as well as at the bilateral and regional levels.
Japan has highlighted
the importance of promoting the rule of law in cyberspace, noting
that cyberspace “should not be a lawless zone”. It further endorses
the applicability of international law, in particular the UN Charter, in the cyber domain. In relation to the use of countermeasures, it has stated that it is not necessary for countermeasures to be limited to the same means as internationally wrongful acts.
Japan has cautioned against
the launch of “premature” discussions on developing a legally binding new instrument, arguing that the adoption of such an instrument might “roll back” the achievement of past multilateral efforts in confirming the applicability of existing international law in cyberspace. Instead, Japan believes
that it is necessary to consolidate, elaborate, and clarify the interpretation of existing treaties and content of customary international law.
During the drafting phase of the 2021 Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) Report, Japan had proposed
to include language explicitly affirming the applicability of State responsibility for internationally wrongful acts, the inherent right of self-defence recognized under the UN Charter, and International Humanitarian Law.