Professor Michael Schmitt was decorated by President Kersti Kaljulaid on the occasion of the 99th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia

University of Exeter Law School expert honoured by the Estonian Government

A University of Exeter expert has been honoured by the Estonian Government for his pioneering work in international law.

Professor Michael Schmitt was decorated by President Kersti Kaljulaid on the occasion of the 99th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. He was one 11 foreigners among the 113 recipients of the state awards, given for their efforts to improve the state of society in the country.

Professor Schmitt was among the first people to publish works on the interplay of cyber operations and international law almost 30 years ago. His most recent publication, Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law of Cyber Operations, is the culmination of a seven-year process he directed involving distinguished international law experts from around the world who meet in Estonia under the auspices of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence to examine how existing international law applies to cyberspace. The work, which is the first comprehensive examination of the subject, has already influenced policymakers, lawyers and politicians in many nations.

Ahead of the ceremony President Kaljulaid wrote: "Decorations represent acknowledgment of the people of Estonia and our partners in foreign countries and recognition of the dedication to their work and loyalty to the principles that modern Estonia relies upon – openness and democracy, knowledge and an entrepreneurial mind, caring and taking notice.”

Professor Schmitt, who was awarded the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, completed a successful 20-year career in the United States Air Force and then served as the Dean of the George C Marshall European Center for Security Studies and Director of the Stockton Center for the Study of International Law at the United States Naval War College before joining the University of Exeter Law School.

Professor Schmitt said he was honored to receive the award from a nation that he deeply admires and respects, and that he does so on behalf of all of those who contributed selflessly to the project out of a deep commitment to the importance of the rule of law in the international community.    

Richard Edwards, Head of Exeter Law School, said “We’re delighted that Mike’s work has received such prestigious recognition from the President of Estonia. At a time when the international legal order is increasingly under threat, this public honour is a timely recognition of Mike’s important and ground-breaking work in defending it.”

The Tallinn Manual 2.0, published by Cambridge University Press, was informed by meetings Professor Schmitt and members of his team held with legal officials from over 50 countries and international organizations, and the input of more than 50 academic and practitioner peer reviewers. Tallinn Manual 2.0 was launched in Washington at the Atlantic Council last week, with launches in The Hague, Tallinn, and Canberra scheduled for the coming weeks.

The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence – the home of the Tallinn Manual – is a NATO-accredited knowledge hub, research institution, and training and exercise facility. The Tallinn-based international military organisation focuses on interdisciplinary applied research, consultations, trainings and exercises in the field of cyber security.

Date: 10 February 2017