Table of Contents

Research Handbook on International Law and Terrorism

Research Handbook on International Law and Terrorism

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Ben Saul

This Handbook brings together leading scholars and practitioners to examine the prolific body of international laws governing terrorism. It exhaustively covers the global response to terrorism in transnational criminal law, the international law on the use of force, international humanitarian law, international human rights law, the law of State responsibility, the United Nations Security Council, General Assembly, UN specialised bodies, and regional organisations. It also addresses special legal issues in dealing with terrorism such as gender, religion, victims of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and customary law.

Chapter 1: The definition(s) of terrorism in international law

Marcello Di Filippo

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, public international law, terrorism and security law, politics and public policy, human rights, terrorism and security


As with many other words or concepts, ‘terrorism’ may be used in many ways, or for many purposes. In conflict situations, for instance, it may be an evocative tool apt to disqualify the adversary’s side, be it an individual, a private organization, an insurgent group, a movement of national liberation, a state or a group of states. Moreover, the history of great social and political changes in many countries and regions shows how the ‘terrorist’ of yesterday may change into the national hero of today, and how the founding father (or the enlightened revolutionary) of yesterday may become the terrorist or the criminal of today. What will be investigated here is not the label ‘terrorism’ as used in the political arena, but its legal dimension, with special regard to international law and with some references to comparative law. The emphasis is placed on the special consequences of derogating from a supposedly general framework applicable to violent activities.