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Terrorism and International Criminal Law: Questions of (In)Coherence and (Il)Legitimacy


Ben Saul


University of Sydney - Faculty of Law

November 1, 2011

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE: LEGITIMACY AND COHERENCE, G. Boas, W. Schabas, M. Sharf, eds., Edward Elgar, Forthcoming
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/87

Abstract:     
A decade after 9/11, the international field of counter-terrorism is now thick with law. But that does not mean that the law is coherent or legitimate. The birth of new rules, institutions and processes can be anarchic. New norms overlay older, pre-existing legal forms and regimes, generating normative, procedural and institutional ambiguity, fragmentation and collision. In this context, this article first assesses the state of international anti-terrorism law in relation to three notions of coherence: its internal coherence as a discrete legal regime; its relational coherence in respect of other specialised legal regimes; and its consistency of application as a key characteristic of coherence. The law’s coherence may affect its legitimacy; but legitimacy is also affected by other factors. This article next considers two such factors: the determinacy of anti-terrorism law; and the legitimacy of the legal processes and institutions surrounding it. Global anti-terrorism law is an imperfect, chaotic work in progress. The processes and institutions for managing incoherence will gradually muddle through some of the problems of ambiguity, indeterminacy, conflict and fragmentation. Sometimes the dialogue will be constructive, and at other times it will be pistols at ten paces. Much work nonetheless needs to be done to adjust the superstructures which produce and circulate the law. The reform project is urgent not least because the law continues to subordinate liberty to state interests, without necessarily making the world safer.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 29

Keywords: Terrorism, legitimacy, coherence, fragmentation, indeterminacy, selectivity, customary international law, international criminal law, international humanitarian law, human rights, international law on the use of force, financing

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K30, K33

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Date posted: November 4, 2011 ; Last revised: September 6, 2012

Suggested Citation

Saul, Ben, Terrorism and International Criminal Law: Questions of (In)Coherence and (Il)Legitimacy (November 1, 2011). INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE: LEGITIMACY AND COHERENCE, G. Boas, W. Schabas, M. Sharf, eds., Edward Elgar, Forthcoming; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/87. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1954262

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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