1. The Committee on Culture, Science,
Education and Media welcomes the report by Mr Boriss Cilevičs (Latvia,
SOC) on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
and its draft resolution and draft recommendation. It shares the
main thrust of the report and considers that the issue regarding
hybrid war and human rights obligations has become topical and challenging
in recent years, in particular given the rapid technological developments
and legal lacunas and complexity related to this phenomenon.
2. The report highlights that hybrid adversaries operate across
legal boundaries and under-regulated spaces, exploit legal thresholds
limiting responses and are prepared to commit substantial violations
of the law under cover of legal and factual ambiguity. They deny
their hybrid operations in order to create a legal “grey zone” within
which they can operate freely. The legal regulation of hybrid warfare
is a challenge, because one of the parties is deliberately seeking
to evade its legal responsibilities. In the absence of strict internationally recognised
limitations on the use of the wide range of hybrid means of waging
conflict, domestic criminal law measures attempt to tackle these
latest threats. Some of the domestic measures taken in response
to hybrid threats may in turn violate fundamental rights.
3. The report rightly points out that human rights concerns related
to combating hybrid threats may be tackled following the approach
applied to counterterrorism measures. States’ responses to hybrid
threats should be lawful and proportionate. As regards freedom of
expression, some restrictions aimed at controlling the content of
news may be imposed, notably to combat hate speech. However, as
the report rightly states, these restrictions should not be discriminatory
or lead to general censorship. Particularly challenging is the fact that
it is not always possible to identify the hybrid adversary and to
attribute responsibility for hybrid threats to a specific country.
Moreover, phenomena such as disinformation campaigns may also imply
a conflict between certain human rights and fundamental freedoms.
4. Hybrid threats and certain measures taken in response pose
a danger to fundamental rights, but the current legal “grey area”
surrounding these new threats also undermines legal co-operation
based on mutual trust and common understanding of applicable rules.
This is why the committee fully agrees that in complex responses
to hybrid threats, including legal, counter-intelligence, diplomatic
and military means, the Council of Europe has to be relevant and
play a prominent role supporting the design of common legal responses
and contributing its rich human rights expertise.
5. The committee endorses the proposed draft resolution, but
would suggest a few changes to strengthen the text.