Military / Armed Conflict Approaches to Countering Terrorism (Module 6, UNODC University Module series: Counter-Terrorism)

Military / Armed Conflict Approaches to Countering Terrorism (Module 6, UNODC University Module series: Counter-Terrorism)

The series of Modules on Counter-Terrorism Education, developed within the Education for Justice (E4J) initiative, aim to provide a relevant and valuable resource for lecturers teaching courses on counter-terrorism in universities and academic institutions across the world. The Modules seek to enhance students’ understanding of terrorism, its implications and related issues by providing foundational knowledge on relevant international, regional and national instruments and approaches. To increase their effectiveness, the Modules aim to connect theory to practice, encourage critical thinking, and use innovative interactive teaching approaches such as experiential learning, case studies and group-based work. The Modules are multi-disciplinary and can be integrated in a series of courses ranging from law to international relations, sociology, anthropology, criminology and many other disciplines. Whilst the primary focus is on the United Nations instruments, the Modules leave room for diverse perspectives and lecturers can easily adapt them to different local and cultural contexts.

Counter-Terrorism_module_overview_imageModule 6. Military / Armed Conflict Approaches to Countering Terrorism

The previous three Modules ( Modules 3-5) examined the principal legal instruments governing regional and international criminal justice/human rights approaches to countering terrorism. As it was observed, criminal justice approaches, underpinned by the rule of law, should be the normal response to terrorist threats and crimes. Building on the core objectives and sources of international humanitarian law (IHL) explained in Module 3, this Module focuses on issues of particular relevance to counter-terrorism efforts within an armed conflict setting. In particular, it focuses on recent and currently contentious issues that have arisen in respect of non-State actors such as Al Qaida and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), namely in response to the classification of different types of conflict and applicable bodies of rules; and, the existence and implications of the categorization of persons as combatants, protected persons or criminals (some use the term ‘unlawful combatants’).

Learning outcomes

Understand foundational International Humanitarian Law concepts and principles relevant to counter-terrorism operations in an armed conflict situation.

Explain the correct legal classification of conflict situations and associated classification of non-State actors within these situations, and the legal implications of such classification.

Examine some of the principal contentious issues that can arise in an armed conflict setting in relation to non-State terrorist actors.

Consider the notion of terrorism in an armed conflict setting, including specific related rules of International Humanitarian Law.

Explain the relationship between International Humanitarian Law and international human rights law, including the concept of lex specialis.

The full module is avaliable at UNODC website

TopicForeign Terrorist Fighters, Organized crime, Law enforcement


Themes: Foreign Terrorist Fighters, Organized crime, Law enforcement