Terrorism and armed conflict : insights from a law and literature perspective
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Leiden Journal of International Law, Vol. 24, no.1, 2011, p. 1-21
This article examines some selected issues relating to terrorism and international humanitarian law (IHL): the characterization of the nature of armed conflicts in which armed groups, qualified as ‘terrorist’, are involved; terrorism as a war crime; and the determination of the status and treatment (including detention) of terrorist suspects apprehended in the course of an armed conflict. The analysis emphasizes the importance of legal categories and legal qualifications of factual situations for the purpose of determining the applicable law as well as the crucial importance of taking societal practice into account when evaluating the state of the law in any given area. The main focus of the article, however, is on providing a few basic insights, drawn from the law & literature movement, on international humanitarian law and terrorism. Short of any epistemological ambition, literature is used as a remainder that the law is not a set of neutral rules, elaborated and applied independently of context and historical background; that the human condition remains central; and that legal regulation cannot be oblivious to it. Finally, mention is made of interpretive techniques, developed in the field of literary studies, that may help establish social consensus on the interpretation of IHL grey areas.