Chapter 15: Terror and terrorism in armed conflicts: Developments in international criminal law
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International humanitarian law (IHL) and in particular the Geneva Conventions (GCs) and their Additional Protocols (AP I and AP II) prohibit attacking a civilian population with the intention of spreading terror and committing acts of terrorism during armed conflicts. While the relevant norms are primarily addressed to the parties of the conflict, grave breaches of IHL constitute war crimes and entail individual criminal responsibility: however, terror and terrorism are not explicitly mentioned in any of the grave breaches provisions. This chapter discusses the content and scope of the criminalization of terrorist acts committed against civilians in armed conflicts as applied mainly by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). Besides being considered aggravating factors related to convictions for other crimes, acts of terrorism and the spreading of terror among the civilian population have been also charged as specific war crimes. The ICTY in Gali_ and Milo_evi_ made important legal findings regarding the constitutive elements of the crime of ‘terror against the civilian population’.

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