This paper by Pontus Winther (LL.D. Swedish Defence Research Agency) and Per-Erik Nilsson (Ph.D. Uppsala University) examines the implications of digital technology in modern warfare, focusing on the challenges it poses to International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Specifically, the study analyses the use of smartphone applications and chatbots by Ukrainian civilians to become advanced “spotters” of enemy movements. It argues that such participation in the targeting process can result in civilians losing their legal protection from direct attacks. This has several legal consequences, including the risk of civilians being lawfully killed or injured by Russian armed forces, potential trials for detained civilians under Russian domestic law, and increased difficulty in proving Russian IHL breaches. The paper emphasises the importance of precautionary measures and instructions for civilians utilising mobile phone “spotting tools” to mitigate associated dangers and legal risks.
The military application of information has a long history in influencing the outcome of war and conflict on the battlefield. Be it by deceiving the opponent, maintaining troop confidence, or shaping public opinion. These tactics are placed under the banner of influencing human behaviour. Behavioural influencing is the act of meaningfully trying to affect the behaviour of an individual by targeting people’s knowledge, beliefs and emotions. Within the Dutch armed forces these tactics fall under title of Information Manoeuvre. With the ever-larger and more evasive employment of information-based capabilities to target human cognition, the boundaries of the physical and cognitive battlefield have begun to fade.
For this paper series scholars, experts and policymakers submitted their papers on the employment of information-related capabilities to influence human behaviour in the military context. From the perspective of an individual European or NATO country’s perspective.
The Information-based behavioural influencing and Western practice paper series is edited by Arthur Laudrain, Laura Jasper and Michel Rademaker.