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 6: Nuclear, chemical and biological terrorism in international law

David Fidler

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


The potential for terrorists to develop, acquire or use biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear weapons has constituted one of the most important security issues of the post-Cold War period. This threat includes the risk of terrorists obtaining these weapons of mass destruction (WMD) through independent means or from governments that support terrorist groups or fail to secure WMD materials. The confluence of WMD and terrorism began to affect policy seriously in the 1990s, and fears accelerated after the terrorist violence of 9/11 and subsequent anthrax attacks. Responses to these concerns have affected international law in many ways, including giving new purposes to non-proliferation agreements; generating new treaties; triggering the novel use of Security Council powers under the Charter of the United Nations (UN); sparking human rights concerns; applying international law on the use of force in controversial ways; and generating ‘soft law’. This chapter examines the evolution of international law relevant to WMD terrorism over the past two decades, with emphasis on the current state of the law, its problems and future challenges.

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