22. Cyber Warfare

In this advisory report the CAVV and the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) conclude that serious cyberattacks could cause an armed conflict to which international humanitarian law would apply. The discourse must not be dominated by military and technological responses to this new threat. For the time being, scarce defence resources should be used to develop offensive capabilities on only a limited scale. Priority should be given to improving the protection of defence networks and building an intelligence capability in respect of the digital domain.

The first part of this report considers the nature of cyber conflicts and the Dutch armed forces’ development of appropriate operational capabilities in this area.

The second part looks at relevant aspects of international law, in particular the conditions governing the use of force and the application of international humanitarian law.

The third part considers international cooperation, including agreements on standards of conduct aimed at reducing cyber conflicts and on cooperation within NATO and the EU.