New Article by Marina Aksenova – University of Copenhagen

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27 May 2015

New Article by Marina Aksenova

In her new article "Conceptualizing Terrorism: International Offence or Domestic Governance Tool?" recently published in Journal of Conflict and Security Law 2015, Marina Aksenova discusses the notion of terrorism as an international crime and as a governance tool. She argues that terrorism as an offence is distinct from other core international crimes, and thus fits better within the realm of domestic law and politics.

Crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide are increasingly subject to prosecutions by international tribunals. Should then terrorism, as a substantive offence, be equally prosecuted internationally? Or is it a different kind of ‘animal’? This article argues that terrorism does not belong within the realm of international criminal law. On the surface, it is the lack of internationally agreed definition of terrorism and its domestic law origins that set it apart from the notions of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. These crimes, in contrast with terrorism, are rooted in international law and denote consensus within the international community about the acts it has not tolerated since the time of Nuremberg and Tokyo processes. Digging just a little deeper, the divergence, which is best explained using the language of criminology, stems from the political nature of the war on terror. The intensification of the fight against terrorism is a response to public demand for more security. Consequently, terrorism is a policy offence utilized by states in pursuit of broader governance objectives. International criminal law is not a suitable mechanism for satisfying the need for more security because its main goal is symbolic and lies elsewhere in promoting the rule of law and fighting the culture of impunity.

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