Rethinking terrorism in international law : an enquiry into the legal concept of international state terrorism

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Todeschini, Vito
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This thesis investigates the concept of international state terrorism with a view to providing a legal definition thereof. It proposes to qualify certain uses of state armed force in the light of the category of international terrorism. The latter is understood as the commission of violent acts aimed at spreading terror among a population in order to achieve political goals, and is usually identified as an activity solely perpetrated by non-state actors. However, in international relations states do resort to terrorism against other states. That is to say, armed force is at times used to coerce another state’s government by means of directly targeting its population. This use of force relies on large-scale violations of human rights and should be tackled specifically. The paradigm at stake is proposed drawing on existing documents and academic studies. Elements are derived, on the one hand, from the definitions of peacetime and wartime terrorism; on the other hand, from the legal definition of aggression and the analysis of war-like use of force. The overall aim of the research is both to provide a substantive definition of international state terrorism and to identify which legal consequences it would entail in terms of international responsibility
Second semester University: Maastricht University
international law, state responsibility, state-sponsored terrorism, terrorism