Legal challenges related to hybrid war and human rights obligations

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States are more and more often confronted with the phenomenon of “hybrid war”, which covers not only military actions, but also other hostile acts, such as disinformation campaigns via social media and cyberattacks.

The concept of “hybrid war” or “hybrid threat” raises several questions. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights considers that although there is no universal definition for these terms, the main feature of a “hybrid war” is its “legal asymmetry”, as hybrid adversaries deny their activities and operate on the very fringes of the law. While military actions are underway, international law, especially the right to self-defence and humanitarian law, apply. In the event of non-military actions, it is above all domestic criminal law that comes into play. In all cases, human rights must be respected. Any restriction of these rights must comply with the requirements resulting from the European Convention on Human Rights.

The committee also proposes a number of recommendations to be addressed to member States and to the Committee of Ministers in order to combat “hybrid war” more effectively and to uphold human rights in the fight against this phenomenon.

Author: Parliamentary Assembly

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