IRRC No. 253

Prohibition of terrorist acts in international humanitarian law

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This paper deals with the provisions of contemporary international humanitarian law which prohibit “terrorist acts”, commonly referred to, simply, as “terrorism”.Since the paper is mainly of a descriptive nature, experts in international humanitarian law will learn little that is new. But if it succeeds in highlighting one specific aspect of the well-known obligations and prohibitions set forth in the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols—namely, the absolute and unconditional ban on terrorism—the objective will be attained. A few basic facts will then have been recalled which should make it somewhat easier to tackle the complex questions as to the essence and legal bounds of guerrilla warfare.

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