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Terrorism / International humanitarian law

IHL – sometimes also called the Law of Armed Conflict or the Law of War – prohibits most acts committed in armed conflict that would commonly be called "terrorist" if they were committed in peacetime. In this context IHL applies to both regular armed forces and to non-state armed groups. Acts of terrorism in other situations may be subject to other bodies of law,  in particular domestic criminal law. Read full overview



  • Use of nuclear and radiological weapons by terrorists?

    The hurdles for terrorists to get a nuclear weapon are extremely high. The probability of terrorist use of such a weapon is therefore extremely low. In contrast to the nuclear weapon case there are in principle no insurmountable obstacles to the acquisition and use of radiological weapons by a well-organized terrorist group, even though such an action remains high-tech and thus very difficult.

    30-09-2005 | International Review of the Red Cross | Christoph Wirz, Emmanuel Egger

  • Casting light on the legal black hole: International law and detentions abroad in the "war on terror"

    In the deprivation of liberty by agents acting outside the sovereign territory of their State, the prevention of violations of fundamental norms and values is particularly important.

    31-03-2005 | International Review of the Red Cross | Silvia Borelli

  • Interesting Times for International Humanitarian Law: Challenges from the “War on Terror”

    Article published in "the Fletcher Forum of World Affairs", vol. 27:2, Summer/Fall 2003

    01-07-2003 | The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs | Gabor Rona

  • Acts of terror, "terrorism" and international humanitarian law

    This article examines the international humanitarian law applicable to acts of terror. All acts of terror committed during international or non-international armed conflicts are prohibited without exception. In addition, the author argues that State responses to terrorist acts are also regulated by international humanitarian law when carried out during an armed conflict.

    30-09-2002 | International Review of the Red Cross | Hans-Peter Gasser