Analysis of the Legal Framework Underpinning Protection of Critical Infrastructure in Armed Conflicts

The only legitimate object, which States should endeavour to accomplish during warfare, is to weaken the military forces of the enemy. Accordingly, civilians and services that are pivotal to their survival must not be made objects of attack except in rare circumstances. The paper examined the legal framework underpinning the protection of critical infrastructure in armed conflicts. The paper adopted the doctrinal research methodology relying on both primary and secondary sources of law via an analysis of major international legal instruments in the form of treaties, protocols and reports. The paper found out that despite the high rate of civilian mortality associated with non- international conflicts, the protection given to critical infrastructure during international armed conflicts is more detailed and exhaustive. The paper also found out that the extant legal framework for such protection does not pay adequate attention to the recent possibilities and capabilities of scientific and technological advancements in armed conflicts particularly with the emergence of Cyber warfare. The paper concluded that the current legal framework for the protection of critical infrastructure during armed conflict is inadequate. Consequently, the paper recommended urgent establishment of complementary rules to adequately protect critical infrastructure during non-international armed conflicts; inclusion of rules addressing the emergence of cyber warfare; engagement with non- state actors; and proper orientation and awareness raising by relevant international bodies.