The Islamic Law of Rebellion and its Potential to Complement Public International Law on the Use of Force

Mohamed Elewa Badar, Mohammad Sabuj

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Political interest in territorial integrity and state sovereignty has always been to the fore in decisions made by governments faced with those who rebel. Thus, rebellion has been situated as an integral part of internal armed conflict rather than expanding it as part of external or international armed conflict. In this way, public international law has not only limited its scope of application but also failed to provide an effective legal framework for rebels who are not categorised as a party to international armed conflict. The enormous political support for “state sovereignty” and lack of necessary political will to recognise the right of rebellion at international level has played a vital role in this failure.

Attempts to overcome the failure have never been effectively successful due to the fear of ruling authorities that recognition of the right of rebellion might provide legitimacy to opponents and put their authority at risk. The political power has always triumphed over the necessity to recognise the right of rebellion and this has resulted in the under-development of this area of law. Furthermore, the rebels have denied their accountability for asymmetrical use of force against state authorities based on their disadvantageous position under public international law. This unequal position between rebels and state authorities has created a “gap” in the current international legal framework.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-390
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of International and Comparative Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Use of force; rebellion; persecution; self-determination; Islamic law; public international law; international humanitarian law

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