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45 Yale Journal of International Law Online 1 (March 2020)


This Essay offers an account of rabble-rousing, a novel information warfare operation worthy of its own classification, and explores the extent to which contemporary international law and available technologies are capable of addressing the threat that this tactic poses to public world order.

This Essay proceeds as follows. Part I provides a definition of rabblerousing strategies, highlighting the ways by which they are uniquely defined from other forms of information warfare. It then proceeds to highlight the dangers associated with the practice.

Part II moves to examine whether rabble-rousing can be recognized as an internationally wrongful act under the traditional paradigms of public international law. It looks at the prohibitions on coercive intervention, transboundary harm, and subversive propaganda as well as the principle of sovereignty and the human rights to self-determination and freedom of expression in order to determine the legality of rabble-rousing operations under international law. This Part highlights the limits of traditional interpretations of the above legal regimes and proposes how certain adaptations to the law could potentially better capture the examined phenomenon.

Part III assesses current technological capabilities and proposes policy solutions, which will be necessary for States to practically defend against this activity regardless of whether or not wrongfulness can be established. Part IV concludes the argument.

Ultimately, we hope that this Essay will serve as a call-to-action for scholars and practitioners to expand on their existing taxonomies of the informational theater of conflict, and to promote nuanced solutions that take all considerations into account.