This module is a resource for lecturers


The previous three Modules ( Modules 3-5) examined the principal legal instruments governing regional and international criminal justice/human rights approaches to countering terrorism. As it was observed, criminal justice approaches, underpinned by the rule of law, should be the normal response to terrorist threats and crimes. Building on the core objectives and sources of international humanitarian law (IHL) explained in Module 3, this Module focuses on issues of particular relevance to counter-terrorism efforts within an armed conflict setting. In particular, it focuses on recent and currently contentious issues that have arisen in respect of non-State actors such as Al Qaida and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), namely in response to the classification of different types of conflict and applicable bodies of rules; and, the existence and implications of the categorization of persons as combatants, protected persons or criminals (some use the term 'unlawful combatants').

Learning outcomes

  • Understand foundational International Humanitarian Law concepts and principles relevant to counter-terrorism operations in an armed conflict situation.
  • Explain the correct legal classification of conflict situations and associated classification of non-State actors within these situations, and the legal implications of such classification.
  • Examine some of the principal contentious issues that can arise in an armed conflict setting in relation to non-State terrorist actors.
  • Consider the notion of terrorism in an armed conflict setting, including specific related rules of International Humanitarian Law.
  • Explain the relationship between International Humanitarian Law and international human rights law, including the concept of lex specialis.
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