Luigi Martino

The Fifth Dimension of Conflictuality: The Rise of Cyberspace and Its Effects on International Politics

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Cyberspace; International Relations; Cyber Warfare; International Politics; ICT

Cyberspace has become a crucial element for political, social, financial and individual activities. The Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have enhanced the human interactions and have contributed to "reinvent" classical concepts such as political participation, political debate, decision-making. However, their all-encompassing, ubiquitous nature and their growing use for political and military purposes poses significant risks to international peace, stability and security. The low barrier of access to ICT capabilities, the speed of technological advances and the complexity of the cyberspace environment with regard to traditional legal definitions of borders have presented new challenges to States (the main actors of international relations) such as the inherent complexity of accurately attributing cyber-attacks. It is both this complexity and the frequent insistence of parties to attribute cyber-attacks and incidents "beyond a reasonable doubt" that gives one the ability to deny responsibility and frustrate attempts to build trust and political rapport in cyberspace. The purpose of this research is to analyze how cyberspace affects the international politics. The nature of the topic dictates the use of qualitative analysis of primary and secondary sources such as official reports, declarations and policy documents, and academic analysis, in order to understand effects and dynamics carried out by the cyber domain on classical concepts such as war, peace and international relations. The main idea of this research is that the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and the related (r)evolution of warfare have produced relevant effects on the dynamics of the contemporary international system highlighting, at the same time, how the militarization of the cyber domain has posed consequences on international security, peace and stability. However, the lack of specific research related to "cyberspace's effects on international politics" highlights the need to devote more attention on this topic bearing in mind that, more extensive and enduring analysis on cyberspace's dynamics might allowed policy makers the opportunity to improve awareness related to cyber threats in order to governing challenges emerging from the digital sphere.

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