Table of Contents

War Crimes and the Conduct of Hostilities

War Crimes and the Conduct of Hostilities

Challenges to Adjudication and Investigation

Edited by Fausto Pocar, Marco Pedrazzi and Micaela Frulli

Most charges for war crimes are brought for violations of the rules on the treatment of protected persons in armed conflict situations. However in certain cases, they are brought for serious breach of international humanitarian law rules governing the conduct of hostilities. This book seeks to address this somewhat neglected area of international criminal law.

Chapter 17: The relevance of international humanitarian law in national case law on terrorism

Antonino Alì

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


Acts of terrorism committed during an armed conflict are prosecutable as war crimes under national and international law. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) considers that in armed conflicts there is no legal significance in describing deliberate acts of violence against civilians or civilian objects ‘as terrorist because such acts would already constitute war crimes’. In light of international humanitarian law (IHL) several international criminal tribunals have tried to elaborate the elements of the crimes of ‘terror against the civilian population’ and ‘acts of terrorism’ as war crimes. According to some international tribunals terror is a war crime under customary international law giving rise to individual criminal responsibility. The jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) refers mainly to terrorist acts committed in armed conflicts and draws the basis for such crimes from IHL.

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