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Defining Terrorism in International Law$
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Ben Saul

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199535477

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199535477.001.0001

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Reasons for Defining and Criminalizing Terrorism

Reasons for Defining and Criminalizing Terrorism

(p.10) 1 Reasons for Defining and Criminalizing Terrorism
Defining Terrorism in International Law

Ben Saul

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains the policy rationale for defining and criminalizing terrorism. It discusses how much of the international disagreement about defining terrorism stems from a more fundamental confusion regarding the underlying reasons for definition. It argues that the main reason for definition and criminalization of terrorism is that terrorism seriously undermines fundamental human rights, jeopardizes the State and peaceful politics, and threatens international peace and security. It discusses that arguments for criminalization are grounded in an evaluation of the basic characteristics of international crimes, the purposes of criminology policy, and the need to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary offences. The chapter also evaluates the case for internationally criminalizing both domestic and international terrorism, and deduces a basic definition of terrorism from the policy reasons underlying its definition.

Keywords:   policy, criminalization, international crimes, criminology policy, domestic terrorism, international terrorism

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