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The Perspective of the Rebel: A Gap in the Global Normative Architecture

Finlay, Christopher J.

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If people have a right to rebel against domestic tyranny, wrongful foreign occupation, or colonial rule, then the normative principles commonly invoked to deal with civil conflicts present a problem. While rebels in some cases might justifiably try to secure human rights by resort to violence, the three normative pillars dealing with armed force provide at best only a partial reflection of the ethics of armed revolt. This article argues that (first) the concept of “terrorism” and the ongoing attempt to define it in international law, (second) the laws of war and their application to armed conflict, and (third) the Responsibility to Protect all obscure as much as clarify the problem. Given the prevalence of political oppression and the occurrence of civil conflicts originating in attempts to confront it, there is therefore a pressing need to establish a place for the rights of rebellion in the international normative architecture.


Finlay, C. J. (2017). The Perspective of the Rebel: A Gap in the Global Normative Architecture. Ethics & International Affairs, 31(02), 213-234.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 23, 2017
Online Publication Date Jun 9, 2017
Publication Date Jun 9, 2017
Deposit Date Sep 26, 2017
Publicly Available Date Dec 1, 2017
Journal Ethics and International Affairs
Print ISSN 0892-6794
Electronic ISSN 1747-7093
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 02
Pages 213-234
Related Public URLs


Accepted Journal Article (794 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This article has been published in a revised form in Ethics & International Affairs This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs 2017.

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