• Suleiman Usman Santuraki Nigerian Law School, Yola Campus, Yola Adamawa State




The proscription of the use of force under article 2 (4) of the United Nations (UN) Charter is generally accepted as having the effect of a treaty provision as well as customary principle in international law. Interestingly, the scope and effect of article 2 (4) is still being debated. Emerging trends on the use of cyber space creates a new dimension to the argument on the scope of article 2 (4). In 2017, North Korea allegedly hacked South Korean Defence systems stealing terabytes of sensitive defence data, and was also suspected of masterminding the hacking of a US filmmakers’ data base resulting in losses of millions of dollars. In response, the US allegedly engineered a devastating attack on the North Korean cyber space, and sanctioned North Korea for the hacking of Sony Pictures. Again, the US accused Russia of meddling in its electoral process largely using the cyber space, thus, imposed several sanctions on Russia. Russia also retaliated by expelling some US diplomatic staff from Moscow. Using doctrinal research methodology, this paper examines how these activities relates to the international legal regime on the use of force. It aims to establish how the occurrences of cyber warfare have influenced an emerging reinterpretation of article 2 (4). The paper relied on wide literature relating to the use of force and cyber warfare to achieve the objective of interpreting article 2 (4) in line with contemporary happenings. It argues that cyber warfare could amount to an armed attack capable of activating the right of other states to self-defence. The paper finds that states and publicists have equally treated cyber warfare as an armed attack, though determining the proportionality or necessary retaliatory actions may be a complex issue.

Keywords: Use of Force, Cyberspace, Cyber-warfare, UN Charter, International Law.


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