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 14: Terrorism and the international law of occupation

David Kretzmer

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


Terrorist acts may be carried out in times of both peace and armed conflict. They may be committed in the sovereign territory of a state or in territory occupied by that state during an armed conflict. If we take the simplest definition of terror – acts of violence against persons not taking an active part in hostilities in an armed conflict in order to spread terror among the population – such acts are already unlawful under all domestic legal systems, as well as under military law which applies in occupied territory. This chapter is concerned not with the application of domestic law or military law to terrorism but with the norms of international law that apply to terrorism in occupied territory. Territory is regarded as occupied when, in the course of an international armed conflict, it falls under the actual authority of a hostile army. Since states may not acquire territory through use of force, the occupying power does not acquire sovereignty over the occupied territory. At the same time, as the main feature of the occupying power’s authority is the inability of the legitimate government of the occupied territory to exercise governmental authority there, international law places obligations on the occupying power to fill the void on a temporary basis.

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