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18 Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism, and International Humanitarian Law

Ben Saul

From: The Oxford Guide to International Humanitarian Law

Edited By: Ben Saul, Dapo Akande

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 16 July 2024

Terrorism — Armed conflict, non-international

This concluding chapter addresses the debate about the coverage, adequacy, and effectiveness of international humanitarian law (IHL) in regulating ‘terrorism’. IHL does not recognize any specific legal categories for, or special regime governing, terrorists and terrorist groups. Rather, the general norms of IHL apply to terrorists according to their conduct. IHL was precisely developed as a kind of exceptional or emergency law comprehensively addressing all forms of violence in armed conflict, including that which is labelled ‘terrorist’ in other areas of law. Particularly relevant to terrorism are the general IHL rules on the classification of violence as armed conflict, the categorization of persons during conflict, targeting, detention, criminal liability, and fair trial. Thus, terrorist and counter-terrorist violence may constitute a non-international armed conflict (NIAC) to which IHL applies if the violence is sufficiently intense and organized. The chapter then considers three key legal issues of particular relevance and specificity to terrorism in armed conflict.

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