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Legislating from a Radical Hague: The United Nations Special Tribunal for Lebanon Invents an International Crime of Transnational Terrorism


Ben Saul


University of Sydney - Faculty of Law

June 16, 2011

Leiden Journal of International Law, 2011
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/35

Abstract:     
In 2011, the Appeals Chamber of the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon purported to identify a customary international crime of transnational terrorism and applied it in interpreting domestic terrorism offences under Lebanese law. This article argues that the Tribunal's decision was incorrect because all the sources of custom relied upon by the Appeals Chamber – national legislation, judicial decisions, regional and international treaties, and UN resolutions – were misinterpreted, exaggerated, or erroneously applied. The Tribunal's laissez-faire attitude towards custom formation jeopardizes the freedom from retrospective criminal punishment, subjugating the human rights of potential defendants to the Tribunal's own moralizing conception of what the law ought to be. The decision is not good for international law or public confidence in its institutions and processes.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 25

Keywords: customary international law, international criminal law, retrospective punishment, terrorism, UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K30, K33

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Date posted: June 17, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Saul, Ben, Legislating from a Radical Hague: The United Nations Special Tribunal for Lebanon Invents an International Crime of Transnational Terrorism (June 16, 2011). Leiden Journal of International Law, 2011; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/35. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1865564

Contact Information

Ben Saul (Contact Author)
University of Sydney - Faculty of Law ( email )
Faculty of Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.usyd.edu.au/about/staff/BenSaul/index.shtml
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