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University of Texas School of Law




The cybersphere offers a rich space from which to explore the development of international law in a compressed time frame. This piece examines the soft law process over the last decade of the two Tallinn Manuals – handbooks on the international law of cyber warfare and cyber operations – as a valuable lens through which to witness the effects of “interpretation catalysts” on the evolution of international law. In prior work, I identified the concept of interpretation catalysts – discrete triggers for legal interpretation – and their influence on the path that legal evolution takes, including by compelling a decision-making body to take a position on its interpretation of a legal rule, shaping all aspects of the decision-making process, ultimately influencing the legal position that body takes, and often the resulting law itself. In this piece, I explore the role that the interpretation catalyst triggering the Tallinn process – the cyberattacks on Estonia in 2007 – have played in the development of the international law governing cyberspace going forward.

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