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Does International Law Apply to the Islamic State?

Towards a More Comprehensive Legal Response to International Terrorism


Ms. Holli Edwards

Release Date:

January 2017

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• Growing populations and International law does not adequately address transnational terrorist groups like the so-called Islamic State, because it fails to recognize contemporary forms of conflict and these groups’ hybrid statelike and non-state-like nature.

• Legal and practical difficulties hinder international law’s effectiveness, including definitional issues affecting the legal obligations of terrorist groups and states’ armed forces, obstacles to prosecuting terrorists under international law, jurisdictional issues impeding the extradition of accused persons, and the uncertain application of customary international law.

• The recent joint Spanish-Romanian proposal for the creation of an international counter-terrorism court represents a promising step towards bolstering international cooperation and developing international law to deal better with the issue of terrorism.