Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Josef Korbel School of International Studies, International Studies

First Advisor

Deborah Avant

Second Advisor

Rachel Epstein

Third Advisor

Julia Macdonald

Fourth Advisor

Lisa Victoravich


Cyber warfare, Cybersecurity, Elinor Ostrom, Geneva conventions, Law of armed conflict, New institutional economics


Allusions to death delivered by bits and bytes have been in vogue since the Reagan administration. Yet, as the internet and its connected devices have since proliferated, cyber violence remains far more fiction than fact. Nevertheless, prominent U.S. officials have all but assured the eventuality of a devastating attack. In anticipation, political, legal, and industry experts are now seeking to codify and inculcate international norms to govern acts of war prosecuted via cyberspace. Two of the most prominent governance models to emerge are the Tallinn Manual and Microsoft’s Digital Geneva Convention. The driving thesis of this research argues that within the monolith of the internet, there lie situations that can be examined through the lens of New Institutional Economics and commons governance, lending to rigorous and outcomes-based policy analysis. Through the application of Ostrom’s Institutional Analysis and Development framework, this paper individually evaluates the two governance models in question and offers a theory as to the likely efficacy of each approach. This research ultimately finds that the Tallinn Manual achieves its narrow and explicit aims of demonstrating how international law applies to cyberspace while falling short of reaching its full potential as a governance institution. The Digital Geneva Convention is unlikely to meet its objective of becoming a binding international agreement, though the associated, newly founded CyberPeace Institute could breathe life into the initiative.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Kevin M. Kelleher


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

96 p.


International relations, International law, Economic theory