Paradoxically, justifications for State torture and non-State terrorism are strikingly similar, often drawing on the same underlying logic, reasoning, ethics, politics, ideology and philosophy. This chapter explores the range of claims, justifications and excuses which have been invoked to support arguments for torture and terrorism, including ideas about the defence of human rights, asymmetry of power, the simultaneous antiquity and malleability of the law, and exceptional doctrines such as 'necessity'. While the absolute prohibition of torture in international law is appropriate and ought to be defended, by contrast there are considerable inadequacies in the legal regulation of terrorism, resulting in the complicity of international law in repressing legitimate struggles against political oppression.
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