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Wednesday, October 28, 2020


Experts Release Statement on International Law Protections Against Foreign Electoral Interference

A team of international law experts has published a statement warning about the insecure electoral process in the United States ahead of the 2020 election, and stating applicable rules of international law that protect electoral processes. The Oxford Statement on International Law Protections Against Foreign Electoral Interference through Digital Means was co-drafted by Sterling Professor of International Law Harold Hongju Koh and signed by Professor Michael Reisman LLM ’64, ’65 JSD, Mahnoush Arsanjani ’74 LLM, ’77 JSD, and more than 130 other prominent figures in International Law.

The statement states that, “Less than a week before the most consequential election in its modern history, United States electoral processes remain startlingly insecure.”

In August 2020, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence reported that China, Russia, and Iran have been “compromise[ing] our election infrastructure for a range of possible purposes, such as interfering with the voting process, stealing sensitive data, or calling into question the validity of election results.” Last week, the U.S. Justice Department unveiled an indictment charging six Russian GRU intelligence officersinter alia, with attempting interference in the 2017 French elections. “But there is a limit to how far such a global problem can be remedied by domestic law,” the experts explain.

These recent reports on election security led to the Oxford Statement, which seeks to state consensus international law rules against election interference. The statement is the third arising out of a series of virtual workshops held in 2020 during the global pandemic at the University of Oxford, cosponsored by the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC) at the Blavatnik School of Government, Microsoft, and the Government of Japan.

The Statement remains open for signature by international law scholars, with hopes that it will spur discussion and clarification about how international law applies in this area. To add your name and credentials, please email Tsvetelina.vanBentham@merton.ox.ac.uk.