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Ever since the 2016 presidential election of the United States of America, a recurrent question dominating the news has been whether the elections were manipulated with and to what end? Was the result influenced by a Russian cyber campaign conducted by Russian state actors? Does this constitute a violation of international law? Dr. Peter B.M.J. Pijpers has recently written a book on Cyberspace Influence Operations and he’ll be discussing the US election among other case studies on Friday 19 January. He’ll be joined by Professor Russell Buchan (University of Reading) and Lieutenant-Colonel Nick Wobma LL.M (NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence). The event will be moderated by Professor Marten Zwanenburg (UvA).
Event details of Influence Operations in Cyberspace and the Applicability of International Law
19 January 2024
15:00 -16:30

Online Influence Operations

This book examines the use of online influence operations by foreign actors, and the extent to which these violate international law. It looks at key recent examples such as:

  • 2016 UK EU Referendum
  • 2016 American Presidential Election
  • 2017 French Presidential Election

Applying existing international law to the new cyberspace domain fuels the discourse on how states interpret international law, which increases legal ambiguity. The book contributes to this discourse by analysing the core elements of interventions and sovereignty, including territorial integrity and political independence, and the extent to which these elements were violated in the three central case studies. It concludes by reflecting on the future of influence operations in cyberspace and providing instruments and tools to better define when and how international law has been violated.

Providing insights into the use of coercion and manipulation in influence operations, this book will be crucial reading for students and scholars in information and media law, internet and technology law, and public international law. It will also be beneficial for cyberspace experts and policymakers in international law and governance.

About the Author. Peter B.M.J. Pijpers PhD is an Associate Professor Cyber ​​Operations with the Netherlands Defence Academy in Breda and Researcher with the Amsterdam Centre for International Law. He is a full Colonel in the Netherlands Army and has been deployed four times to mission areas including Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Pijpers is (co-)author of several articles related to the legal and cognitive dimension of influence operations in cyberspace, and about how armed forces can manoeuvre in the information environment - both below the threshold of the use of force. 

Russell Buchan is Professor of International Law at the University of Reading, UK. Russell has published widely in the field of public international law, including three monographs. He is also co-editor (along with Nicholas Tsagourias) of the Research Handbook on International Law and Cyberspace (Edward Elgar, 2021) and co-editor in chief of the Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies.  

Lt. Col. Nick Wobma is currently posted as NLD SNR in the Baltics, and as Law researcher at the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence ( in Tallinn, Estonia. He joined the Dutch armed forces in 2010 and became a legal adviser for the NATO Communications and Information Agency for cyber legal matters in 2015. From 2018 to 2021 he was the Dutch Cyber Command Legal adviser, also working for the Ministry of Defense directorate of Legal affairs in the areas of cyber and legal. 

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