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“Guerrilla” and “Terrorism” in Internal Armed Conflict

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Chapter Summary

The terms "guerrilla" and "terrorism" are used so widely by journalists, commentators, and politicians in recent times, that they have become household words. The popular distinction is particularly inappropriate for the present purpose, which is to discover the legal distinction, if any, between guerrilla warfare and terrorism in the context of the rules of international humanitarian law applicable in non-international armed conflicts. The preparatory work clarifies the close relationship between the prohibition of "acts of terrorism", on one hand, and the prohibition in Article 4(2)(a) of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 against "violence to the life, health and physical and mental well-being of persons, in particular murder as well as cruel treatment such as torture, mutilation or any form of corporal punishment", on the other.

Keywords: civilian population; guerrilla warfare; internal armed conflict; international humanitarian law; international terrorism; non-international armed conflicts



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