Journal Article

Conceptualizing Terrorism: International Offence or Domestic Governance Tool?

Marina Aksenova

in Journal of Conflict and Security Law

Volume 20, issue 2, pages 277-299
Published in print July 2015 | ISSN: 1467-7954
Published online April 2015 | e-ISSN: 1467-7962 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jcsl/krv002
Conceptualizing Terrorism: International Offence or Domestic Governance Tool?

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  • Military and Defence Law
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  • Use of Force, War, Peace and Neutrality

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Crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide are increasingly subject to prosecutions by international tribunals. Should then terrorism, as a substantive offence, be equally prosecuted internationally? Or is it a different kind of ‘animal’? This article argues that terrorism does not belong within the realm of international criminal law. On the surface, it is the lack of internationally agreed definition of terrorism and its domestic law origins that set it apart from the notions of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. These crimes, in contrast with terrorism, are rooted in international law and denote consensus within the international community about the acts it has not tolerated since the time of Nuremberg and Tokyo processes. Digging just a little deeper, the divergence, which is best explained using the language of criminology, stems from the political nature of the war on terror. The intensification of the fight against terrorism is a response to public demand for more security. Consequently, terrorism is a policy offence utilized by states in pursuit of broader governance objectives. International criminal law is not a suitable mechanism for satisfying the need for more security because its main goal is symbolic and lies elsewhere in promoting the rule of law and fighting the culture of impunity.

Journal Article.  10222 words. 

Subjects: Military and Defence Law ; Public International Law ; Police and Security Services ; Terrorism and National Security Law ; Use of Force, War, Peace and Neutrality

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