The Prohibition of Cyberterrorism as a Method of Warfare in International Law




Acts of violence, armed conflict, cyberattacks, cyberterrorism, international humanitarian law


There is no doubt that cyber operations can play a significant role in the conduct of warfare. In fact, an ongoing cyber arms race among states and non-state actors evokes fears among some of a looming ‘digital Pearl Harbour’ or a ‘digital 9/11’. Given these fears, there have been calls for the elaboration of a ‘Digital Geneva Convention’ to protect civilians from the harmful consequences of cyberattacks. In this context, this article focuses on one specific aspect of cyber operations during situations of armed conflict: cyberterrorism as a method of warfare. It examines the extent to which international humanitarian law (IHL), which was primarily designed to govern kinetic means and methods of warfare, applies to cyberterrorism. In so doing, it assesses whether the calls for a ‘Digital Geneva Convention’ are justified.

Author Biography

Brenda Mwale, University of Pretoria

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law



How to Cite

Casey-Maslen, Stuart, and Brenda Mwale. 2021. “The Prohibition of Cyberterrorism As a Method of Warfare in International Law”. South African Yearbook of International Law 44 (March):23 pages.



Received 2020-06-22
Accepted 2020-12-17
Published 2021-03-01