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About the ESIL Kraków-Leiden Symposium

The European Society of International Law sponsors the organisation of symposiums co-hosted by universities in Western and Central and Eastern Europe to promote networking and co-operation between different universities and explore topics of current interest in public international law. The first symposium of this type was hosted by the Institute of International Relations in Prague and the University of Nottingham International Law and Security Centre in May and November 2017 and dealt with the topic “Non-UN Sanctions and International Law”. The second symposium of this type will take place in 2020, co-hosted by the Chair for Public International Law at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, Leiden University.

Both Partners are leading European universities with a rich history and strong committment to academic excellence. The Jagiellonian University, founded by king Casimir the Great in 1364, was a center for research on international law almost from its beginnings: Stanisław ze Skarbimierza (Stanislaus de Scarbimiria) and Paweł Włodkowic (Paulus Vladimiri), both Rectors of the Kraków Academy (as the University was called in the 15th century), were founding fathers of the Polish school of international law. Leiden University, founded in 1575, is home to many famous alumni, including Hugo Grotius, the father of international law. Its Law School is ranked among the top 30 in the world and the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies is based in both historic Leiden and The City of Peace and Justice in The Hague.

Exploring the frontiers of international law in cyberspace

The overall idea of the Symposium is to explore issues dealing with the application of international law in cyberspace. Given the rising importance of cyberspace for national economies and international peace and security, the cybersecurity risks involved and the novel problems posed by the interconnectedness of cyberspace for traditional notions of international law such as sovereignty, jurisdiction, state responsibility, the application of ius ad bellum and ius in bello in cyberspace etc., we find the topic worth exploring from a theoretical and policy-oriented perspective. The topic is steadily gaining prominence as a field of research in public international law and featured inter alia at the ESIL Research Forum in Göttingen and the ESIL Annual Forum in Athens. However, we believe that the range of issues is so broad that it warrants further research and discussion in a special symposium.

The Kraków event

The Kraków event, organised by the Chair of Public International Law, will focus on issues of responsible State behaviour in cyberspace. Among the possible topics to be explored during the event are:

  • Rules and norms of responsible State behaviour in cyberspace, in particular in context of the new OEWG and GGE proceedings
  • Western and non-Western approaches to international law in cyberspace
  • The application of International Humanitarian Law to cyber armed conflicts
  • Sovereignty in cyberspace; aspects of “digital sovereignty”
  • State responsibility in cyberspace
  • Individual and collective reactions to cyberattacks, cyber restrictive measures, countermeasures etc.
  • Supply chain security and international trade law (vide 5G, Huawei etc.)
  • Extraterritorial jurisdiction (U.S. CLOUD Act, EU draft e-evidence regulation etc.)


The Leiden event

The Leiden event, organised by the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, will follow in November 2020 and will focus on human rights and aspects of environmental protection in the context of cyberspace. Possible issues to be explored during this session include:
  • Social media and human rights
  • Extraterritorial de-referencing orders (Google v. Equustek, Google v. CNIL)
  • State surveillance operations and human rights (vide FinFisher)
  • Export controls on certain types of software (vide FinFisher)
  • Algorithms and human rights
  • The Internet and the implementation of environmental obligations (eg promoting transparency under the Paris Agreement)
  • Cybersecurity and sustainable development