Sample International Relations Research Paper on International Law and Terrorism


The acts of terror have not lately emerged on the international platform since they have been in existence for long. There is a necessity for the international community to think about successful means of combating terrorism since it has turned out to be a grievous problem affecting development and peace around the world and challenging the existing regulations. The causes of terrorism are numerous with politics, economic factors, and religion being the greatest ones. Though the international community in its entirety is still seeking ways of tackling the problems of terrorism, much requires being undertaken to tackle the vice sufficiently.

International Law and Terrorism

The acts of terrorism have not recently originated on the global scale since they have been in existence for long. Though international law might not be blamed for the failure to handle the problem of terrorism with the serious it deserves, it was just following the 9/11 acts of terrorism in the US that the global community’s endeavors in combating the vice gained more vigor and focus. Similar to torture, racial extermination, piracy and other serious criminal behaviors, terrorism ought to be tackled through reinforcement of the extant international law, since it currently lacks evident legal standards (Weatherall, 2014). Since terrorism has turned out to be a great problem affecting stability and peace across the globe and challenging the existing laws, there is a need for the global community to mull over successful ways of combating it. 

Terrorism occurs as a result of numerous aspects with the greatest one being politics. A different cause of terrorism, for instance, the emergence and practices of ISIS, is the religion (Cronin, 2015). For religion to result in terrorism, it has to interrelate with other aspects, and to the extreme, for example, religious fanaticism. Moreover, religious activists may recognize as foes the nations and organizations which they are convinced that they are contrary to their religion, perspectives, and practices. On this note, they might choose to engage in terrorism as a means of demonstrating fury towards them. Another cause of terrorism that is strongly linked to the concerns of politics is the economic position. The incidence of poverty coupled with minimal or no development could lead to terrorism emanating from displeasure with government initiatives or practices of a given regime.

If the members of an organization believe that the government is not sensitive to their needs and that there is no other better alternative to drawing the focus of such a regime to their troubles, they could resort to terrorism as an approach of airing their grievances. Furthermore, the aspect of marginalization, where a given group has a feeling of being left out from the scheme of administration is closely related to such an occurrence. Most, if not all, causes of terrorism encompass the political aspect. Deficiency or denial of political involvement and tangible grievances make up a major proportion of the causal factors of the emergence of terrorists (Weatherall, 2014). However, though rather objectionable, most governments and international law assert that the reasons behind the emergence of terrorism ought to be overlooked in the deliberation of the means of combating the problem.

Though the global community in its entirety has not failed in tackling the issues of terrorism, much requires being done to sufficiently deal with the problem. Enhanced collaboration amid nations and worldwide organizations mark steps in the right direction. The greatest obstacle to the endeavors being established to deal with terrorism is the incapability of the global community to create an extensive and generally suitable description of terrorism that will include its constitutive components. The global community was dazed recently by the emergence and actions of terror undertaken by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a militant Muslim organization. ISIS is dedicated to the orders from a given Sunni group of Islam and seeks to be in command of the Muslim-populated nations close to Syria and Iraq. The group obtained significant monetary resources through controlling oil fields in Iraq, taking charge of banking institutions and offering it a huge amount of money, and soliciting finances from rich donors mostly from Sunni nations. ISIS enticed into its ranks many foreign volunteers, encompassing people from the UK and US (Cronin, 2015). The group has engaged in dreadful actions of terrorism with the purpose of realizing its political goals. 

Article 4(2) under Protocol II of the Geneva Convention states that devoid of bias to the overview of the foregoing, terrorism and threats to engage in such activities should remain outlawed at any point and in any region across the globe. Moreover, Article 13(2) under the same Protocol affirms that the innocent civilian population should not be treated as objects of attack whatsoever. In addition, activities and threats of brutality with the aim of spreading terror amid the civilian population are forbidden. Protection from acts of terror offered to civilians is reliant on whether the activities are mainly aimed at terrorizing them (Weatherall, 2014). This could leave the armed forces with much discretion of establishing the rationale behind the activities in the course of the conflict.

It was affirmed by the US that at the period of their occurrence, the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the country could not be categorized as acts of terror hence may not be taken to be within the international humanitarian law (jus in bello) directives. Nevertheless, such activities exist in the scope of jus ad bellum (a set of standards that are to be conferred with prior to engaging in warfare with the aim of establishing whether taking part in the war is allowable; whether it is a legal battle). This is because they resulted in an armed war that allowed the US to implement the right of self-protection (Cronin, 2015). Moreover, the tragic happenings resulted in the commencement of warfare between Afghanistan (that had offered refuge for al-Qaeda) and the US. In this regard, the rule of armed conflict came into being.

 All the approaches, encompassing the international law, adopted with the aim of fighting terrorism, have to identify the significance of human rights (Weatherall, 2014). The concerns of anguish, unjust prosecution, and oppression appear to be crucial in the discussions of the connection between human rights and anti-terrorism. It has been affirmed that most countries appear to bask in the conviction that in so far as efforts to counter terrorism are concerned, their activities cannot lead to terrorism. The people charged with the responsibility of protecting a country, and the ones with the accountability of combating terrorists, should not develop the mistaken feeling that the increasing incidences of terrorism necessitate their fighting back in any manner they deem fit, encompassing the violation of human rights. 

The Geneva Conventions were established with the perspective of armed war witnessed in the course of the Second World War, and the Protocols were included with the insights of the later guerilla warfare. On this note, the international law should get updated with respect to the recent terror attacks, as demonstrated by the lately devised approaches of terrorism (Weatherall, 2014). The international law should adopt the methods used by countries to combat terrorism (for instance, airstrikes undertaken by the United States against ISIS and al-Qaeda) if they are approved by the international community of States. In conclusion, since terrorism is becoming a global threat to peace, the international community should strengthen the international law or enforce other more stringent regulations to help deal with the problem effectively.      


Cronin, A. K. (2015). ISIS is not a terrorist group: Why counterterrorism won’t stop the latest jihadist threat. Foreign Aff., 94, 87-89.

Weatherall, T. (2014). The status of the prohibition of terrorism in international law: Recent development. Geo. J. Int’l L., 46, 589-591.