Annex to the Geneva List of Principles on the Protection of Water Infrastructure - Cyber Operations Principle


In 2017, the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace, an initiative of fifteen countries, underscored the need to elaborate the international law rules protecting water infrastructures during armed conflicts. To that end, the Geneva Water Hub developed the Geneva List of Principles on the Protection of Water Infrastructure (Geneva List). The Geneva List systematizes the main rules applicable to the protection of water infrastructure during armed conflicts, specifically in the conduct of hostilities and post-conflict situations, and sets forth some recommendations that go beyond existing law.

Noting the emerging cyber security threats, evolution in military cyber capabilities, and the water sector’s vulnerability, the Geneva Water Hub developed a principle on “Cyber Operations” dealing with the protection of water infrastructure and water-related infrastructure as an Annex to the Geneva List. The principle mainly transposes the existing international humanitarian law rules and principles concerning the conduct of hostilities to this new domain. The principle also indicates that other branches of international law, such as human rights law, could provide protection.

In June 2021, the Geneva Water Hub and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights jointly organized a workshop on ‘Cyber operations and the protection of water.’ The workshop took stock of international law practice on cyber security and focused on how the law applicable to cyber operations interacts with water and water-related infrastructure protection. The principle, with its commentary, was discussed during the workshop, and inputs from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), cyber security practitioners, military advisors and academic experts were incorporated. The Geneva Water Hub takes this opportunity to express its gratitude to all the workshop participants for their invaluable contributions.

The Annex can be downloaded below.