Applying Chapters VI and VII of the United Nations Charter in the Cyber Context

19 May 2021
Applying Chapters VI and VII of the United Nations Charter in the Cyber Context

Chapters VI and VII of the United Nations (UN) Charter form the bedrock of the UN Collective Security System. On the one hand, Chapter VI requires States to settle their disputes by peaceful means.  On the other, Chapter VII enables the Security Council to take coercive action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression. However, with the widespread use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) across all domains of State activity, action under both Chapters VI and VII might take a different, perhaps even ‘virtual’, shape.

Against this background, this workshop seeks to explore with the help of leading scholars and practitioners in relevant areas of international law and policy two key issues: (1) how can cyber operations trigger Chapter VI and VII of the UN Charter, and (2) what kind of general or cyber-specific measures could be used in responding to such triggers.

Please note that this event is by invitation only. For further information please contact

UNIDIR encourages the participation of representatives and experts working on or interested in issues pertaining to cyber and international security. 


Session 1 – 11:00am-1pm CET

  • Welcome: Dr Robin Geiss, Director of UNIDIR
  • Opening remarks by Ambassador Nadine Olivieri,  Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland
  • Opening remarks by Ms Wieteke Theeuwen, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands 
  • Roundtable 1: Triggering Chapters VI and VII of the UN Charter in the ICT Environment: Which Cyber Operations Amount to International Disputes, Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace and Acts of Aggression?

This roundtable seeks to assess the extent to which cyber incidents and operations fall within the scope of Chapters VI and VII of the UN Charter. As affirmed by the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (GGE) and reiterated by the UN Open-ended Working Group on ICTs (OEWG), international law and the UN Charter in its entirety apply to ICTs. Both the GGE and the OEWG have recognised that States must settle their international disputes, including those relating to ICTs, by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered. Yet the exact way in which States’ obligation to settle disputes peacefully, as well as the recommendatory and enforcement powers of the UN Security Council, might be triggered and apply in ‘cyberspace’ remains unclear. 

  • Framing Presentation by Talita Dias, University of Oxford (Brazil)
  • Discussants: 
    • Duncan Hollis, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Law, Temple University School of Law 
    • Vera Rusinova, Professor of International Law, Higher School of Economics in Moscow
    • Eneken Tikk, Cyber Policy Institute & Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki
  • Open discussion


Session 2  – 3pm-5pm CET 

  • Roundtable 2: International Dispute Settlement and Collective Security in the ICT Environment: General and Cyber-Specific Measures

This session centres around the implementation of Chapters VI and VII of the UN Charter in the cyber context. Specifically, it aims to identify the various measures of a general and ICT character that can be employed by States, the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly in discharging their responsibilities for the peaceful settlement of international disputes and in the course of enforcement action against threats to the peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression. In particular, the Security Council is entitled to adopt a variety of coercive measures seeking to maintain or restore international peace and security, such as the enforcement of economic or political sanctions, the establishment of judicial bodies and other public institutions, the enactment of quasi-legislative acts and the use of military or police force. But apart from the vague reference in Article 42 to measures involving the ‘interruption of telegraphic, radio, and other communications’, there is no guidance as to how Chapters VI and VII measures may apply in the cyber context.

  • Framing Presentation: Talita Dias, University of Oxford (Brazil)
    • Makane Moïse Mbengue, Professor of Law, University of Geneva 
    • Nemanja Malisevic, Director, Digital Diplomacy, Microsoft 
    • Pedro Antonino, Senior Researcher, The Blockhouse Technology, Oxford
  • Open discussion
  • Concluding Remarks