Webinar: New frontiers in international law: recent developments in cyberconflict and cyberspace

On 22 February 2024, Volterra Fietta hosted a virtual seminar on “New frontiers in international law: recent developments in cyberconflict and cyberspace”.

Digital technologies play an increasingly central role in modern life.  Cyberspace underpins critical infrastructure, including in energy, transport, communications and defence.  At the same time, risks of cyberattack are rising and must be carefully managed.  The events of recent years have highlighted emerging challenges for public international law caused by the increasing intersection between cyberspace and armed conflict.  How do the laws of war apply on a digital battlefield?  When and how might a cyberattack qualify as an armed attack, triggering the right of self-defence?  How should civilians be protected from digital threats?  What rules, if any, apply to technology and telecommunications companies under international law – particularly those products and services who may be implicated in causing or preventing crippling cyber attacks?  What issues arise when cyber attacks traverse neutral third countries?  More generally, how does international law guide what States can and cannot do in cyberspace?

This seminar addressed recent developments in the public international law of cyberspace, including in the increasingly important field of cyberconflict.

Our distinguished panel of speakers were:

Professor Mariana Salazar Albornoz, Professor of International Humanitarian Law, International Criminal Law and Public International Law at Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City.  Professor Salazar recently concluded her four-year mandate as a member of the Inter-American Juridical Committee of the OAS (2019-2022), where she served as Rapporteur on International Law Applicable to Cyberspace and Rapporteur on Privacy and Data Protection.  From 2021 to 2023, Professor Salazar served on the Global Advisory Board on Digital Threats convened by the International Committee of the Red Cross.  She has been recently appointed by the UN Secretary-General as Member of the Board of the UN Register of Damage Caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  She is a member of the Editorial Board of the international Review of the Red Cross and the coordinator of the International Law studies group of the Mexican Council of Foreign Relations.  She collaborates as a speaker and instructor for the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities. Previously, she served for 13 years at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico as, among other roles, Coordinator of Public International Law and Director of International Humanitarian and Criminal Law.  A former practitioner in law firms in Mexico City, Ms Salazar holds a Law Degree from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and a Master’s Degree in International Law from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.

Associate Professor Mohamed Helal, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Columbus, Ohio.  Professor Helal is currently serving a five-year term as a member of the African Union Commission of International Law, where he is the African Union Special Rapporteur on International Law and Cyberspace.  His scholarship focuses among other areas on the rules regulating the use of armed force by states (jus ad bellum) and the legal aspects of international security affairs.  Professor Helal has served as Lecturer-on-Law at Harvard Law School and as a visiting professor at the Section Française of the Ain Shams University Faculty of Law in Egypt.  In 2020-2021, Professor Helal was also a Visiting Associate Professor of Law and John Harvey Gregory Lecturer on World Organization at Harvard Law School.  Professor Helal previously served as a diplomat and as an international civil servant, including service as Legal Counsel to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, advising on issues relating to African Affairs and relations with Nile Basin States.  He is a Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Dr Tilman Rodenhäuser, Legal Adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross (“ICRC”), Geneva.  Dr Rodenhäuser provides legal and policy advice, among other things, on the application of international humanitarian law to cyber and other digital operations.  He represents the ICRC in the United Nations Cyber Open-Ended Working Group in New York.  Prior to joining the ICRC in 2016, he worked with the German Red Cross, DCAF, the NGO Geneva Call, and the United Nations, with missions in Africa and the Middle East.  Dr Rodenhäuser holds a PhD from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and recently published the Oxford University Press monograph Organizing Rebellion: Non-state armed groups under international humanitarian law, human rights law, and international criminal law. He has published various articles in renowned international journals and received different awards for his work.

Mr Andre Coore, Senior Assistant Attorney General and Legal Advisor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica.  He is currently the head of the legal services department at the Foreign Ministry where he provides legal advice on a range of international law issues.  Mr Coore’s responsibilities include providing legal support to the Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the United Nations including representation at meetings of the sixth committee.  He previously served as deputy director of legal services in the Ministry of Justice, Jamaica and Adjunct Lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Mona.  Mr Coore is a Chevening Scholar and a recipient of the United Nations Fellowship in International Law.  He holds a bachelors of science degree from the University of Technology, Jamaica, a bachelors of law degree from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados and a masters degree in International Law from University College London.

Ms Angela Ha, Counsel at Volterra Fietta.  Ms Ha is an Australian-qualified lawyer.  She advises governments and private clients on a wide range of contentious and non-contentious public international law issues.  She acts for States before the International Court of Justice as well as for both investors and States in high-stakes investor-State arbitrations.  Alongside her legal practice, Ms Ha lectures in public international law, international investment law and international energy law, including at University College London and SOAS University of London.  She has been invited to speak on international law issues at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, by the American Society for International Law and at the Investment Treaty Forum of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.  She is ranked by Legal 500 as a “Rising Star” in public international law.

Mr Robert G Volterra, Partner at Volterra Fietta, moderated this event.  Mr Volterra advises and represents governments, international organisations and private clients around the world on a wide range of public international law and international dispute resolution issues, including in relation to international humanitarian law, the laws of war, boundaries and territorial integrity.  He has acted as counsel and advocate before the International Court of Justice in over a dozen cases.  He is currently Co-Representative, counsel and advocate for Barbados in the ICJ Advisory Opinion proceedings on climate change.  He is on the UK Attorney General’s A-list for public international law practitioners (the first non-UK national and non-British barrister on the list).  Mr Volterra has been recognised for many years in the global legal directories as one of the world’s top public international law practitioners.  He is described in Chambers and Partners as “probably the best PIL lawyer on this planet” and by Legal 500 as “the best public international lawyer around.”

For any queries regarding the content of the seminar, please email