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Cyberweapons: an emerging global governance architecture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number16102
Number of pages6
JournalPalgrave Communications
Issue number1
Early online date10 Jan 2017
Accepted/In press30 Nov 2016
E-pub ahead of print10 Jan 2017
Published10 Oct 2017


King's Authors


Cyberweapons are a relatively new addition to the toolbox of contemporary conflict but have the potential to destabilize international relations. Since Stuxnet (a malicious computer worm) in 2010 demonstrated how computer code could be weaponised to generate political effect, cyberweapons have increasingly been discussed in terms of potential regulation and prohibition. Most analyses focus on how global institutions and regimes might be developed to regulate the development and use of cyberweapons and identify the political and technical obstacles to fulfilling this ambition. This focus on centralized authority obscures identification of existing governance efforts in this field, which together constitute an emerging global governance architecture for offensive cyber capabilities. This article explores three sources of cyberweapons governance—cyberwarfare, cybercrime and export controls on dual-use technologies—and briefly describes their political dynamics and prospects. It is argued that although fragmented, the global governance of cyberweapons should not be dismissed on this basis. Fragmentation is a condition of global governance, not its antithesis, and policy should respect this fragmentation instead of regarding it as an impediment to further development of cyberweapons governance. This article is published as part of a collection on global governance.

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