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Civilizing the Exception: Universally Defining Terrorism

POST-9/11 AND THE STATE OF PERMANENT LEGAL EMERGENCY: SECURITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN COUNTERING TERRORISM , A. Masferrer, ed., Springer: UK, pp. 79-100, 2012

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/68

21 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2012  

Ben Saul

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: September 11, 2012

Abstract

The first part of this chapter assesses whether there is now an accepted definition of terrorism in general international law, in the wake of a decision by the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon in 2011, which declared the existence of an international crime of transnational terrorism. This chapter concludes that there is insufficient evidence of a customary international law definition of terrorism, largely because there is too much inconsistency and divergence in the material sources of law such as international and regional treaties, national laws and judicial decisions, and United Nations resolutions. There are nonetheless good international public policy reasons for defining terrorism, to protect important community values and interests. Those policy reasons can illuminate the proper approach to the technical problem of defining the elements of terrorism, particularly in ways which do not interfere with other important global values, such as human rights and humanitarian law. In this context, the chapter explores the advantages and costs of defining terrorism in certain ways.

Keywords: terrorism, definition, international criminal law, customary international law, United Nations Special Tribunal for Lebanon, General Assembly, Security Council, security, political crime, political violence, democratic protest, armed conflict, international humanitarian law, human rights

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33

Suggested Citation

Saul, Ben, Civilizing the Exception: Universally Defining Terrorism (September 11, 2012). POST-9/11 AND THE STATE OF PERMANENT LEGAL EMERGENCY: SECURITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN COUNTERING TERRORISM , A. Masferrer, ed., Springer: UK, pp. 79-100, 2012; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/68. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2145097

Ben Saul (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New 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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