International law, as a discipline, is obsessed with crises, requiring reinterpretation of its basic principles to cope with them. Through this process of reinterpretation, it also creates new rules. Terrorism is one such ‘crisis’ which has impacted the international legal framework on the use of force, making it deviate from its basis established by the United Nations Charter. This thesis conducts a macro analysis of the changes in the legal framework for combating terrorism after 9/11 and the Arab Spring. It focuses on the Syrian conflict as a case study, analyzing the major actors and their different legal justifications. The Syrian conflict is a clear prototype of the changes that started to take place after 9/11. The development in the legal framework governing the use of force happened in three dimensions. The first is the broadening of existing rules (such as favoring a purpose-oriented interpretation of self-defense to include new forms such as anticipatory and pre-emptive self-defense). The second dimension is the creation of new rules through state practice that replaced existing codified ones, in an attempt to avoid the deadlock of the Security Council (SC) veto. For example, the “unwilling and unable” standard is used to justify unilateral interventions without the SC authorization to fight terrorists in other states. A third dimension is the gradual decline of the use of collective security under the UN system, giving way to unilateral action by States.


Law Department

Degree Name

LLM in International and Comparative Law

Graduation Date


Submission Date

January 2016

First Advisor

Moussa, Jasmine

Committee Member 1

Beckett &Hani, Jason & Sayed


85 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item


For persistent assistance and encouragement, I thank my beloved husband Abdelkawy who always is there to help and support. I also acknowledge the support of Ford Foundation, Building the Next Generation Program.