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From Byron to the Islamic State : exploring the figure of the ‘Foreign Combatant’ in international law (1907 - present)

Abstract : The figure of the ‘foreign combatant/volunteer’ has been haunting international law for quite some time now. A hybrid actor ranging between the romantic adventurer, the committed idealist, the racist, right-wing mercenary and recently the international terrorist, ‘foreign fighters’ have actually proved extremely difficult to systematize within the formal categories of law. Notably, these categorizations are also the result of highly contextual and deeply politicized assessments of whom is to be considered a ‘good’, or ‘lawful’ foreign fighter. As such, they have worked as to exclude other foreign fighters present in the battlefield, together with delegitimize political adversaries in tense ideological struggles in the context of non-international armed conflicts. By taking a detour in three distinct moments in the recent history of civil war, this thesis aims to show how different ‘figures’ of the foreign combatant have actually informed and keep informing the legal conversations of state representatives, policymakers, international lawyers and national courts in very different times and places. These ‘figures’, it is here contended, linger at the back of the various decisionmakers’ arguments and positions, flooding and shaping their legal imaginaries. They form an ambivalent repertoire which can be revived and used each time to characterize the rightness or the wrongfulness of foreign fighters’ causes, contributing to make of the ‘foreign combatant’ a very ambiguous category whose legacy will not cease to haunt international law.
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Submitted on : Thursday, May 5, 2022 - 2:37:06 PM
Last modification on : Friday, May 6, 2022 - 3:38:48 AM


  • HAL Id : tel-03659957, version 1



Alberto Rinaldi. From Byron to the Islamic State : exploring the figure of the ‘Foreign Combatant’ in international law (1907 - present). Law. Institut d'études politiques de Paris - Sciences Po, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019IEPP0052⟩. ⟨tel-03659957⟩



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