Trends in Peace Research: Can Cyber Détente Lead to Lasting Peace?

Trends in Peace Research: Can Cyber Détente Lead to Lasting Peace?

Nenad Putnik, Mladen Milošević
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3032-9.ch001
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In this chapter, the authors discuss the phenomenon of interstate conflicts in cyber space. In the last twenty years, this issue has become more explicit, and countries are making increasingly frequent mutual cyber warfare and cyber espionage accusations. The political and military elite of conflicting countries perceive the situation as very serious and are preparing not only for defending their segment of cyber space, but for developing offensive strategies for cyber warfare, as well. The authors endeavor to contribute to peace research by examining the possibilities for achieving cyber détente, the idea promoted by Henry Kissinger in 2011. In this chapter, the authors identify and analyze problems whose solution should be the focus of the States Parties to cyber détente: the question of denotation and potential desecuritization of technical terms, the question of identification and classification of cyber threats and the problem of the legal framework for their opposition. In addition, the authors give guidelines for their solution, based on securitization theory.
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From a theoretical perspective it is significant that, until the nineties of the twentieth century, peace and social conflict research was based on classic interstate conflicts as well as global fixation on superpowers of the time, and military blocks. This approach proved to lack adequacy for overemphasizing political and ideological aspects while overlooking economic, environmental and cultural aspects. “Low intensity” conflicts were also ignored, being observed through the lens of the superior “high intensity conflict between East and West”.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cyber Terrorism: Cyber-attacks on information infrastructure or digital data, aimed at intimidating civilians and forcing governments to carry out political or ideological requirements, which result in human deaths or great material damage.

Cyber Détente: Hypothetical bilateral or multilateral agreement that would define the steps, measures and actions to reduce tensions between the States Parties, caused by mutual confrontation in cyber space.

Cyber Conflict: Any conflict between state or non-state actors in cyber space.

Cyber Espionage: The use of computer networks to secretly gain confidential, digital information.

Securitization: The concept of the Copenhagen School, which means the process of promoting concrete phenomena to security threats by securitizing actors, with the aim of establishing special measures. The actors require the legitimacy for the establishment of special measures from the public.

Desecuritization: The process opposite to securitization which involves the return of an issue from urgent, securitized situation to the area of normal negotiations in political sphere.

Cyber Warfare: Continuing conflict of national armies or guerrilla groups in cyber space, which includes attacking opponent's information infrastructure, using malware or other cyber tools and techniques, as well as the implementation of promotional activities, aimed at harming the enemy and weakening its defense capabilities in cyber space and the physical world.

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