Workshop on the Meaning and Practice of Collective Defence in the Cyber Domain

Oxford-NATO-FCO Workshop on the Meaning and Practice of Collective Defence in the Cyber Domain

This workshop gathered academic experts, practitioners, and media representatives to discuss the pressing challenges and opportunities of collective defence in the new domain of conflict. The purpose of the conference was to explore theoretical understandings of the doctrine of Collective Defence in the cyber domain; and to identify the doctrine’s success factors and strategic benefits in the context of relations among Alliance Member States as well as among Member States and partners states.

The conference’s central theme was the application in the cyber domain of collective defence – the foundational principle and raison d’être of the NATO alliance. Despite a growing body of experience dealing with cyber threats within the Alliance, the meaning and practice of collective defence in the new domain remain poorly grasped. Security and defence analysts struggle to find an appropriate answer to the growing complexity and fast changing nature of the cyber threat landscape. Adversaries new and old continue to develop unprecedented means to threaten Transatlantic security via cyberspace. The development of doctrine, in short, continues to lag behind the rapid pace of change of capabilities and action.

The discussion was organized around three subsidiary topics:

  1. Principles of Collective Cyber Defence: Basic Problems of Doctrine and Strategy
  2. Collective Defence—For Whom and against Whom?
  3. Asymmetry in Cyber Power between Member States


The workshop was supported by a grant from NATO's Public Diplomacy Division and the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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