Marko Milanovic and Michael N. Schmitt explain that the COVID-19 pandemic has starkly highlighted the need to further international cyber law discourse amongst states. Malicious cyber operations directed against medical facilities and capabilities and campaigns of misinformation have interfered with states’ abilities to effectively fight the virus and treat their populations.
These acts can be qualified as violations of international law, at time violating the state sovereignty, intervening in state internal affairs, and even amounting to wrongful use of force. At the same time, states have a duty under human rights law to combat harmful cyber operations and misinformation campaigns by states and non-state actors alike.
All states, human rights courts, human rights monitoring bodies, the academy, the private sector and NGOs must take up the challenge presented by this tragic pandemic to move the law governing cyberspace in the right direction.
Shortly after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, the United Nations issued an appeal for a pause in hostilities around the world. In this paper, Bruce C. Rashkow discusses how the pandemic has impacted U.N. peacekeeping operations in response to such conflicts and explores the ways in which peacekeeping forces have been, and will likely continue to be, hampered by the pandemic.
Dina Temple-Raston and Harvey Rishikof’s paper explores how falsehoods and misinformation have affected the public’s response to pandemics—both past and present. It describes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s field manual on epidemiology, and discusses New York’s failure to follow the manual at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The paper also outlines the broad legal framework federal and state governments can use to communicate or enforce their powers in response to pandemics; and concludes by identifying unaddressed pandemic-related disinformation issues on social media platforms.
As a “specialized society separate from civilian society,” the military experiences not only many of the same challenges as the larger society as a result of COVID-19, but also other challenges arising in the contexts of their normal missions and times of crisis.
In light of the developments during the first half of 2020, Eugene Fidell’s article on COVID-19 and Military Law highlights some of the legal challenges that have arisen in the military world due to COVID-19. In doing so, he focuses on various perspectives, including the intersection between commanders’ responsibility for the health and safety of their personnel; systemic effects and adjustments to the internal administration of justice; and challenges presented to domestic law, legal institutions, and human rights following a shift to a domestic law enforcement mission. These perspectives have direct and indirect effects on unit cohesion, mission-readiness, mission-accomplishment, and public trust.