Published in July 2018.
This module is a resource for lecturers
Exercises and case studies
This section contains suggestions for in-class or pre-class educational exercises, while a post-class assignment for assessing student understanding of the Module is suggested in a separate section.
The exercises in this section are most appropriate for classes of up to 50 students, where students can be easily organized into small groups in which they discuss cases or conduct activities before group representatives provide feedback to the entire class. Although it is possible to have the same small group structure in large classes comprising a few hundred students, it is more challenging and the lecturer might wish to adapt the facilitation techniques to ensure sufficient time for group discussions as well as providing feedback to the entire class. The easiest way to deal with the requirement for small group discussion in a large class is to ask students to discuss the issues with the four or five students sitting close to them. Given time limitations, not all groups will be able to provide feedback in each exercise. It is recommended that the lecturer makes random selections and tries to ensure that all groups get the opportunity to provide feedback at least once during the session. If time permits, the lecturer could facilitate a discussion in plenary after each group has provided feedback.
All exercises in this section are appropriate for both graduate and undergraduate students. However, as students' prior knowledge and exposure to these issues varies widely, decisions about appropriateness of exercises should be based on their educational and social context.
Exercise 1: Flip the classroom (see Teaching Guide)
Since the primary focus of this Module is on terrorism and counter-terrorism in an armed conflict context governed by IHL, and not a basic introduction to IHL, in order for students to derive the maximum learning benefit it is important that they are at least familiar with foundational concepts and principles of IHL prior to the class. One way of achieving this is by 'flipping the classroom', in this case requiring students to do preparatory work prior to the class so that it can be assumed that they all have an at least basic understanding of the key concepts, enabling the lecturer to focus on more specialist terrorism and counter-terrorism related issues.
- Watch a short video prior to the class, such as: ICRC (2014). Rules of war (in a nutshell); and/or
- Read introductory materials on IHL, such as: Chapter 1 'Introduction to IHL' in: Nils Melzer (2016). International Humanitarian law: A Comprehensive Introduction. ICRC.
Case study 1: Categorization of an Armed Conflict
Discuss the key principles raised by the following case study with your students:
Prosecutor v. Miloševi *
In this case, the meaning of "armed conflict" continued to be developed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Specifically, the Court considered the essential criteria for a non-international armed to exist, as opposed to "terrorism" or mere internal unrest, after an amicus curiae motion was brought arguing that no armed conflict in Kosovo existed prior to 24 March 1999 (the start of the NATO bombing campaign). As the facts of the case arose before this date, it was argued there was no case to answer for war crimes under article 3 of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. It was argued that, prior to 24 March 1999, the conflict between Serbia and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) did not involve protracted armed violence; it was only "acts of banditry, unorganized and short-lived insurrections or terrorist activities". Further, the Security Council, in its Resolution 1160 (1998), had condemned the outbreak of violence both of the Serbian "police" and the "terrorist acts" of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
Nonetheless, the Trial Chamber approved the test for the existence of an internal armed conflict in the case of Prosecutor v. Dusko Tadić ( Decision (Appeals Chamber) 2 October 1995, IT-94-1-AR72, paras. 67-70) and took into account the factors with which to assess intensity: the size of the Serbian response to the actions of the KLA; the spread of the conflict over territory; the increase in number of government forces and the type of the weapons used. The Chamber said that control over territory by insurgents was not a requirement for the existence of a non-international armed conflict. Reference was also made to the decisions of other Chambers that had considered such factors as the seriousness of attacks and whether there had been an increase in armed clashes, the spread of clashes over territory and over a period of time, any increase in the number of government forces, mobilisation and the distribution of weapons among both parties to the conflict, as well as whether the conflict had attracted the attention of the Security Council and whether any resolutions had been passed. The Chamber pointed to the fact that the KLA had a general staff that appointed zone commanders, gave directions to units and issued public statements. Unit commanders gave orders and subordinate units generally acted in accordance with those orders. Steps had been taken to introduce disciplinary rules and military police and to recruit, train and equip new members.
* Prosecutor v. Miloševi, Decision on Motion for Judgment of Acquittal (Trial Chamber) 16 June 2004,International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, IT-02-54-T.
See further, Obradovíc, Konstantin (2000). International humanitarian law and the Kosovo crisis. ICRC. 30 September. (The conflict between the KLA and Serbia as a Geneva Protocol 2 situation, not terrorism).
Case study 2: IHL, Armed Conflict and Terrorism
Discuss the key principles raised by the following case study with your students:
Italy v. Abdelaziz (Bouyahia Maher Ben) and others *
In this case the Italian Court of Cassation had to distinguish between acts of terrorism, as defined in international law, from other similar phenomena, such as actions perpetrated by fighters belonging to a national liberation movement. Italian law previously had treated such concepts as guerrilla warfare, guerrillas, wars of national liberation and freedom fighters as synonyms. Further, such terms were also employed generally to denote the acts of those engaged in struggles elsewhere against oppression and occupation, and as such, the non-State fighters should receive protection in so far as they exercise their right to self-determination.
The defendants were foreign nationals charged, along with aiding and abetting illegal immigration, with the offence of "association for the purpose of international terrorism in Italy and abroad" under article 270 bis of the Italian Criminal Code. They were accused of having recruited and sent to Iraq and other war zones, volunteers to be trained as Islamic fighters. They were also connected in Italy to a group connected to an organization called Ansar-al-Islam having headquarters in Iraq. The issue before the court was whether supporting paramilitary training in the Middle East to carry out violent acts in Iraq or elsewhere should be classed as terrorism in domestic law.
The courts of first and second instance (i.e. the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal), relying on the Geneva Convention legal regime, acquitted the defendants of terrorism as the acts in question were deemed in pursuit of a liberation conflict occurring elsewhere. The Supreme Court reached the opposite conclusion, considering the stronger definition of terrorism to be that contained in the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, as reinforced by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001) (S/RES/1373 (2001)).
* Italy v. Abdelaziz (Bouyahia Maher Ben) and others , Final Appeal Judgment 17 January 2007 , Supreme Court of Cassation (Italy), No. 1072 (Official Case No) (2007), 17 Guida al Diritto 90, ILDC 559.
See further, Aleni, Lucia (2008). " Distinguishing Terrorism from Wars of National Liberation in the Light of International Law: A View from Italian Courts." Journal of International Criminal Justice, vol. 6, issue 3, pp. 525-539.; and Cassese, Antonio (2006). " The Multifaceted Criminal Notion of Terrorism in International Law." Journal of International Criminal Justice, vol. 4, issue 5, pp. 933-958.