Any threat to the peace: cyberspace's threat

The author of this post is Filippo Belfatto.

One day I woke up with this question. Do cryptocurrencies be considered a threat to sovereignty? I know this sounds strange but what I mean is: when I make a bitcoin transaction am I using a stuff to damage a State?
I know, the Blockchain technology allows bitcoin thus it is actually the tool. So, I have to make this assumption: without Blockchain technology wouldn’t be any question but bitcoins are still nowadays the Pop Star. In fact, bitcoins have, more or less, immediately had a crushing effect against economic systems, law systems and social relationship. For all these reasons I’m going to speak about bitcoins.
The question above is quite tricky. First of all, it should qualify the extent of “threat to a State”. In order to determine the case, I decided to use the Art. 39 United Nations Chart. The choice has some reasons: i) every single autonomous State could, with his own laws, qualify who or what is a threat; ii) cryptocurrencies exists in cyberspace, they don’t have flags, colour or regions.[1]

In the light of Art. 39 UN Chart we have to construe the expression “any threat to the peace”. During the years, the United Nations Security Council has read, with lots of resolutions, a meaning. In this sense, it would be said that “any threat to the peace” are: civil wars, human rights violations, act of terrorism and others.[2]

Now the problem is: how should I construe an international treaty like this one? I don’t want to bother you with boring legal disputes and stuff so, the answer is I have to use Art. 31 of Vienna Convention.[3] Hence, to really understand the meaning, the extent of “any threat to the peace”, we have to take into account also the ordinary value of the words. So, in almost all dictionaries the term “to threat” postulates: i) at least two subjects, the threatening and the threatened; ii) an object throughout make the iii) eventually suffered detriment.[4]

We almost have all the elements to answer the original question. On 31 January 1992, the President of the United Nations Security Council said that economic crisis, humanitarian and human crisis, social and ecological crisis are a threat to the peace. For the sake of clarity, he also stated that the absence of war between States doesn’t ensure peace and international.[5]

One fundamental attribute of every States is the exclusive use of weapons and, in general, the power of coercion. On the contrary, a State without this power wouldn’t be able to govern and protect his territory. As already said above, since 1992 the case “threat to the peace”, does not only mean a threat with weapons like nuclear bomb, but it also extends to economic and social threat.
Now, from this point of view the words: “A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution” would have a new, also legal, sense.[6]

From my perspective, cryptocurrencies could be “seen” and then qualified in two opposite way: one with State’s eyes, one with person’s eyes. So, on one hand, they may be a threat to the peace, they may be objects to make acts of terrorism or to hurt State’s property; on the other hand, instead, the person may consider cryptocurrencies like i) something digital to realize positive freedom; ii) Blockchain technology as a tool to make “real” the concept of cyberspace, for instance more like the meaning of space in legal sense.

The regulation of these digital values is State-by-State different, for instance, some States have decided that these bits may be considered pursuant to the law of capital markets. Instead, other States have sniffed that Blockchain technology could be much more disruptive and of some utility, if it is controlled by them. Of course, in some part of the World cryptocurrencies are not allowed and illegal.

Nonetheless of what I’ve just said, I have to admit that is growing a consensus on International level. In fact, States have understand that cryptocurrencies are an alternative type of regulation for human relationship. This new form of digital human relationship is a threat for States because, for instance, bitcoin hurts State’s property if the law does not effect Nakamoto’s invention.

When a person makes a transaction with cryptocurrencies to purchase the bread, a car, a house, or any other sort of goods or services State’s wealth goes out of sovereignty system. Let’s make an example: I convert 100 $ into 100 bitcoin, now with my bitcoin I’ll purchase X objects. Every single transaction that I’ve made with bitcoin will increase only sellers’ assets. The State does not “gain” nothing. So, Treasury does not earn taxation.
Taxation is fundamental for a State; tax law and the tributary system are key tools also to grant people and their rights[7].
The State could be thought as a legal person, a company; it offers and receives obligations to and from other entities, like natural people. If and when people use or modify their rights someone has to pay a cost, this expense is not always and only paid by people. For instance: individual and collective security should be thought as a cost for a State, in fact military forces have to be paid.

And yet, when people decide to exercise their demonstration’s right they make it at their own expense: they create banners, signboards, stages etc. But on the other side, also the State has some costs, first of all it has to allow the right of manifestation. Indeed the State must: pays police offices to grant the safety of the manifestation, modifies roads conditions, makes available public spaces, a number of officials have to be paid to check and approve the purpose and formality of the manifestation etc.

The last example, property right represents the State’s system expense-profit. The right is a cost because the State must create laws and jurisdictional system to develop assurance and trust in people. Let me explain this concept. Hence, the State creates the property right, it has attributes, definitions, it grants powers and duties etc.
Definitely, the property has people think about every day is not something exists in “nature”, instead it is an artefact made by laws. Thus, like an Uroboro, law system makes the property right and meanwhile all the remedies set out by laws for property protection are applied only to property-right-by-law[8].

This “laws-loop” system gives rise security and trust, people entrust the laws (if it is observed by “everyone” and it is the same for everyone) and they make use of them to develop social, economic and human relationships. As said above, an individual can purchase a good because he has faith that if something or someone will hurt his right, the laws will provide remedies. Thus, so much more laws are “well done” so much more will be the number of subjects who use them. And this is precisely the earing’s State, the profit gained by the Creator of trust[9].
This concept is materialized by taxes. Taxes are collected among all the citizens so that the cost of the laws-system is allocated among the national community.

Hence, the State makes this system and in exchange individuals must use money. Rights, for example property right, are purchasable, are modifiable but only throughout a medium. This medium must be fungible and shared (also note that individual hasn’t the property of this thing) among all individuals[10].
I’ve just described this medium that is no less than State Money[11].

In the light of what I’ve already said about Art. 39 United Nations Chart, I think that, from States point of view, cryptocurrencies are a threat to peace and to their law, economic and social systems.
On the contrary, I see power in the position of individuals. Maybe for the first time again in centuries humans have in their hands a real weapon against Leviathans. Please reader don’t misunderstand me, I don’t want to say that cryptocurrencies are an anarchic thing. I think they are something over ad different. Maybe for the first time in human history people have something to use to make trust-less relationships all around the world. Nowadays the World is bigger than humans, but humans can make relationships all over the World without a third party (State).

In the end, and I must admit this scares me, people, if they want so, could use cryptocurrencies to “threat to the peace” of all States. And this is possible, for the first time in history without too much efforts, with a digital technology. The threat to States is now from the cyberspace which seems more like a “real” space where people and “other things” live. So, threatening (humanity) could threat threatened (States) with an economic damage. But not only, throughout Blockchain technology is possible that in future States will be replaced by cloud communities.

  1. For further information see United Nations Chart: “Article 39
    The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security”. The text and many other information are available at: ↩︎

  2. For further information see : Mónica Lourdes de la Serna Galván, “Interpretation Of Article 39 Of The Un Charter (Threat To The Peace) By The Security Council. Is The Security Council A Legislator For The Entire International Community?”. Available at: [last access: 06/04/2019, hour: 17:37]. In regard of the spoken above construe, the Author says that: “However, through all the UN Charter there is also no definition of this term, so in order to determine an act as a threat to the peace an interpretation of this term has to be done in conformity with the general rules of interpretation stated in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties” (pag. 148). ↩︎

  3. Here the original text of art. 31 Vienna Convention: Interpretation of Treaties:

    1. A treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose.
    2. The context for the purpose of the interpretation of a treaty shall comprise, in addition to the text, including its preamble and annexes:
      (a) Any agreement relating to the treaty which was made between all the parties in connexion with the conclusion of the treaty;
      (b) Any instrument which was made by one or more parties in connexion with the conclusion of the treaty and accepted by the other parties as an instrument related to the treaty.
    3. There shall be taken into account, together with the context:
      (a) Any subsequent agreement between the parties regarding the interpretation of the treaty or the application of its provisions;
      (b) Any subsequent practice in the application of the treaty which establishes the agreement of the parties regarding its interpretation;
      (c) Any relevant rules of international law applicable in the relations between the parties.
    4. A special meaning shall be given to a term if it is established that the parties so intended.”.
      Vienna Convention is availabe at: 1155/volume-1155-i-18232-english.pdf.
  4. Ex multis let’s see: Dizionario della Lingua Italiana, Treccani 2018, “Spaventare qualcuno, promettendogli qualcosa di male; frequentemente con la specificazione del mezzo usato o del male promesso”; The Oxford dictionary, Oxford University Press: “a statement of an intention to inflict injury, damage, or other hostile action as retribution”; The Black Law Dictionary, Bryan A. Garner: “A communicated intent to inflict harm or loss of another or on another’s property”. ↩︎

  5. The original text is available in “Presidential Statement S/23500,” 31 January 1992, p. 11, “[…] the absence of war and military conflicts amongst States does not in itself ensure international peace and security, the non-military sources of instability in the economic, social, humanitarian and ecological fields have become threats to peace and security”. Available at:{65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9}/PKO S 23500.pdf. ↩︎

  6. “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, 2008 of Satoshi Nakamoto, available at: I think these words would have been read in junction with these others: “[…] but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending”. ↩︎

  7. For further information see: “The Cost of Rights. Why Liberty Depends on Taxes”, New York, 1999, by Cass Sunstein and Stephen Holmes. ↩︎

  8. For instance the owner can sue the thief, judges decide the amount of compensation for the tort etc… ↩︎

  9. Please read note 6 to understand better the concept. Trust is fundamental in social relationships as well as in citizen-State relationship. So there is a direct proportion between the number of individuals who use the laws system and the earn (taxes) gained by States. In fact, laws must be fair, clear and precise; these characteristics will improve the appeal of the system as well as its “appeal” to be user friendly. ↩︎

  10. Contrary to State Money, individuals have the property of cryptocurrencies. This is possible due to the algorithm of Bitcoin and the Prof-of-Work. But, for more and specific information please see: “Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain” Oreilly & Associates Inc, 2017, by Andreas M. Antonopoulos. ↩︎

  11. I have to admit that I thought and I’m wondering if it is possible to qualify State Money as private money (of course the owner of this good is the State). For the sake of clarity, if you want explore this idea and you need more information, please see: “Denationalization of Money”, Institute of Economic Affairs 1978 and “Law, Legislation and Liberty”, Routledge 1979 by Friedrich Hayek. ↩︎