Defining Terrorism in International Law

Paperback | February 14, 2008

byBen Saul

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Despite numerous efforts since the 1920s, the international community has failed to define or criminalize 'terrorism' in international law. This book first explores the policy reasons for defining and criminalizing terrorism, before proposing the basic elements of an international definition.Terrorism should be defined and criminalized because it seriously undermines fundamental human rights, jeopardizes the State and peaceful politics, and may threaten international peace and security. Definition would also help to distinguish political from private violence, eliminating the overreachof the many 'sectoral' anti-terrorism treaties. A definition may also help to confine the scope of UN Security Council resolutions since 11 September 2001, which have encouraged States to pursue unilateral and excessive counter-terrorism measures.Defining terrorism as a discrete international crime normatively recognizes and protects vital international community values and interests, symbolically expresses community condemnation, and stigmatizes offenders. Any definition of terrorism must also accommodate reasonable claims to politicalviolence, particularly against repressive governments, and this book examines the range of exceptions, justifications, excuses, defences and amnesties potentially available to terrorists, as well as purported exceptions such as self-determination struggles, 'State terrorism' and armed conflicts.While this book seeks to minimize recourse to violence, it recognises that international law should not become complicit in oppression by criminalizing legitimate forms of political resistance. In the absence of an international definition, the remainder of the book explores how the internationalcommunity has responded to terrorism in international and 'regional' treaties, the United Nations system, and in customary law. The final part of the book explores the distinctive prohibitions and crime of 'terrorism' in armed conflict under international humanitarian law.

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Despite numerous efforts since the 1920s, the international community has failed to define or criminalize 'terrorism' in international law. This book first explores the policy reasons for defining and criminalizing terrorism, before proposing the basic elements of an international definition.Terrorism should be defined and criminalized...

Ben Saul is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.91 inPublished:February 14, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199535477

ISBN - 13:9780199535477

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Concepts of Terrorism1. Reasons for Defining and Criminalizing TerrorismNature of International CrimesInternational Criminological PolicyTerrorism as a Discrete International CrimeElements of a Definition of Terrorism2. Defending 'Terrorism': Justifications and Excuses for Terrorist ViolenceCommon Justifications for TerrorismCriminal Law Defences to TerrorismCircumstances Precluding Group Responsibility'Illegal but Justifiable' TerrorismDiscretion and Law: Never Negotiate with Terrorists?3. Terrorism in International and Regional Treaty LawTransnational Criminal Law TreatiesTreaties of Regional OrganizationsAttempts at Definition in Treaty Law 1930 - 20054. Terrorism in Customary International LawUN General Assembley PracticeUN Security Council PracticeJudicial Decisions Defining TerrorismNational Terrorism Legislation5. Terrorism in International Humanitarian LawEarly Developments 1919 - 1948Second World War and Aftermath 1939 - 19481949 Geneva Conventions and 1977 ProtocolsInternational Criminal Tribunals since 1993Individual Criminal Responsibility for 'Terrorism'Customary Crimes of Terrorism in Armed ConflictUS Military Commissions and 'Terrorism'No Separate Category of 'Terrorist'Conclusion: Proving Terror, Avoiding DuplicationConclusionBibliography