Terrorism as a Legal Concept

ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK OF LAW AND TERRORISM, G. Lennon and C. Walker, eds, Routledge, UK, 2015

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 15/85

20 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2015  

Ben Saul

University of Sydney - Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 23, 2015

Abstract

There is a long and contested history of moral and political disapproval of ‘terrorism’. It is only fairly recently, however, that concepts of terrorism have taken legal form. Most national laws avoided reference to ‘terrorism’ before 2001. Instead most states responded to political violence by utilizing ordinary criminal laws and security offences, and occasionally emergency laws, supplemented by the domestic implementation of numerous transnational treaty offences (such as hijacking or hostage taking). Special ‘terrorism’ laws were most common in states confronting national liberation or separatist violence between the 1940s and 1980s, those that experienced extreme left-wing or other political violence in the 1970s and 80s; and occasionally in states affected by religious violence in the 1990s. It was only after 9/11 that most states considered enacting ‘terrorism’ into domestic law, but to this day national laws remain highly variable, reflecting fundamental moral disagreements over when it is legitimate to use political violence.

Keywords: Terrorism, extradition, international criminal law, war crime of spreading terror, United Nations and counter-terrorism, terrorism as a customary international crime

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K30, K33

Suggested Citation

Saul, Ben, Terrorism as a Legal Concept (September 23, 2015). ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK OF LAW AND TERRORISM, G. Lennon and C. Walker, eds, Routledge, UK, 2015; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 15/85. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2664404

Ben Saul (Contact Author)

University of Sydney - Faculty of Law ( 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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