Action Against Host States of Terrorist Groups

Lindsay Moir

in The Oxford Handbook of the Use of Force in International Law

Published in print January 2015 | ISBN: 9780199673049
Published online June 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780191760204 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

Action Against Host States of Terrorist Groups

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This chapter examines the problems that could arise when a state invokes self-defence to justify action against terrorist groups in another state. It first considers indirect armed attack against armed groups and the controversy surrounding the use of self-defence where armed groups are controlled by a foreign state, with particular reference to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisprudence. It then discusses the possibility that an armed attack could occur, permitting a forcible response in the context of international law, without attribution to a state by citing the Nicaragua case in which the ICJ pronounced that self-defence is permissible against a host state in effective control of an armed group. The chapter also looks at the case of Afghanistan and its relationship to Al Qaeda as an example of a state’s claims of self-defence against terrorism.

Keywords: self-defence; terrorist group; armed attack; armed group; International Court of Justice; international law; Nicaragua; Afghanistan; Al Qaeda; terrorism

Article.  8637 words. 

Subjects: International Law

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