We continue our Series and exchange of views on the conflation of armed conflict and terrorism with a guest post by Professor Ben Saul, of the University of Sidney Law School.
The ICRC’s report on IHL and the challenges of contemporary armed conflict makes three critical points about terrorism. First, existing IHL is reasonably capable of regulating violent methods of war which are commonly described as terrorism. There is thus little apparent benefit from superimposing an additional regime of counter-terrorism law on armed conflict.
Secondly, the international legal suppression and criminalization of terrorism interferes in incentives under IHL – such as they are – for armed groups to comply with IHL, because if treated as terrorists they have little to lose by violating IHL and gain little by respecting it.