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Terrorism as a War Crime

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image of International Criminal Law Review

International humanitarian law (IHL) defines terrorism in a prima facie apolitical manner as acts or threats of violence committed by either States or non-States against certain non-combatants with the primary purpose of terrorizing them. It thus leaves some space for the use of violence by parties to a conflict, all the while holding them to respect certain fundamental principles. This distinctive brand of moral pragmatism is ideally suited to meeting the normative and moral challenge of terrorism and could prove useful to international efforts geared toward the suppression of terrorism through its influence over discourse and through direct prosecutions of the war crime of terrorism. To be effective though, certain limitations tied to the use of IHL must be overcome, relating notably to its scope of application. As the primary purpose of IHL is the limitation of chaos and human suffering, it has the potential to address the anarchy and anguish caused by terrorism.

Affiliations: 1: International Criminal tribunal for Rwanda; Centre for International Sustainable Development Law


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