Human Rights and Humanitarian Law as Competing Legal Paradigms for Fighting Terror

Yuval Shany

in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780191001604
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729447 | DOI:

Series: Collected Courses of the Academy of European Law

Human Rights and Humanitarian Law as Competing Legal Paradigms for Fighting Terror

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This chapter surveys various developments and counter-developments of the first decade of the 21st century relating to identifying the governing legal paradigm of the ‘war against terror’. Part 1 describes the jurisdictional struggle between the two principal legal paradigms that purport to regulate the international fight against terror: the law enforcement and the armed conflict paradigms. Arguably, many disagreements concerning the lawfulness of specific counter-terrorism, such as targeted killings or detention without trial, are actually disagreements on the applicable legal framework and the stories on the nature of the threat of terrorism that is being offered. Part 2 considers the emergence of a mixed paradigm which borrows contents from both human rights law and humanitarian law. It argues that such normative crossover illustrates the difficulty of maintaining rigid paradigmatic distinctions in light of the complexities of the fight against terror; but also that some key differences in emphasis between the two paradigms nonetheless remain. Most significantly, it is argued that the development of a new mixed paradigm merely recontextualizes pre-existing jurisdictional struggles over the proper legal framework to govern the fight against terror. Part 3 concludes.

Keywords: international humanitarian law; international human rights law; legal paradigms; war against terror; law enforcement; armed conflict

Chapter.  11952 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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