Needed, a Framework to Protect Undersea Cables

Picture of The aircraft carrier HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH returns to its home port after completion of Exercise Crimson Ocean

In the data-driven world we live in, submarine cables are the arteries that connect nation-states and their people in literally every human activity, including trade, commerce, entertainment, and social interactions. Any interference in that flow of data can disrupt lives and livelihoods and compromise the capacity of nation-states to trade, communicate, and defend their interests. There are few instruments in public international law available to nation-states for the protection of submarine cables vital to their national interest.

However, private international law and, in particular, commercial contracts may provide the basis for a network of contracts that may provide the legal framework required to defend the network of submarine cables. The ASEAN Power Grid Agreement and the Five Power Defence Agreement may provide the analytical framework upon which a series of mutual agreements may be constructed so as to create a synthetic hardened shell around the cables.

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