top of page

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Combat ISIS: Legal, Political, and Socio–Economic

Dr. Alaa Al Aridi, Vilnius University Faculty of Law, examines the international legal obligations of ISIS and the legality of countermeasures by States against it in accordance with the United Nations charter, International Humanitarian law and International Human Rights law.

Security Council Considers Threats to International Peace and Security, 2018


Starting as a branch of Al Qaeda and transforming to a new phase of armed group, imposing a territory control and governance as a state and then proclaiming itself as a Caliphate in the prophetic Islamic Method, ISIS has clearly challenged the international law from different approaches. The aim of this article is to address the problem imposed by ISIS and combat it from an interdisciplinary approach, therefore it examines the international legal obligations of ISIS as well the legality of countermeasures by states against it in accordance with the United Nations charter (Use of force and Self-Defense), International Humanitarian law, International Human Rights law. On the other hand legal or military means are not the only solution, but rather complementary political, economic and sociological measures will be fruitful with the long struggle to combat ISIS ideology. ISIS is a hybrid non-state armed group and cannot be targeted except by hybrid means.


In recent years a shift in warfare has been clearly recognized, and the rise of non-state armed groups with new means of confrontation has destabilized the international order and challenged the international peace and security. Variety of examples of such groups can be mentioned, but still the most significant group that attracted the universal attention was what is so called the Islamic State (ISIS). The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/Levant, ISIS/ISIL, has smartly invested the sectarian division, poor Iraqi governance and military capabilities, Syrian civil war and the destabilized region to capture Mosul in Iraq and expand its operation to Syria declaring a Caliphate in June 2014 in accordance to Islamic Law (Sharia Law), ruled by god deputy of Earth the Caliph Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the fifth Successor of prophet Muhammad that they claim his roots goes back to the same family tree of the prophet(2) .

From my point of view, ISIS that started as a branch of al Qaeda in Iraq by the late Abu Musaa’b al Zarqawi at 2004 and flourished to be what’s so called Caliphate, is just a new Hybrid phenomenon, it is a nonstate armed actor, with a clearly expressed agenda based on religious ideological and historical acts aiming to gain political victories. Moreover it reflects a multinational business, a terroristic group with transnational criminal actions, part of it network, part organization and part movement. But for sure it doesn’t qualify the statehood level according to different reasons as it doesn’t fulfill the Montevideo criteria(3), nor the doctrine of international recognition. As simply conquering and subjugating people does not necessarily mean an acceptable definition of statehood as it used to be in previous centuries. ISIS is a Hybrid group that requires Hybrid response to combat.

According to this short introduction, My Study will examine combating ISIS from different approaches and the challenges it constitutes to International law and order. Starting from the Legality to use force against non-state armed group in particular ISIS, then the Role of IHL, IHRL and Islamic law in dealing with the behavior of it, and how would International criminal court respond for crimes committed?. Moreover, what Political, Economic and sociological countermeasures can be adopted to defeat the ideology and power of ISIS.

Combating terrorism also requires a long-term comprehensive approach that combines security and development policies parallel to legal measures in confrontation.

1. The legality of the military intervention against ISIS

ISIS has been involved since the outbreak of the Syrian and Iraqi conflict in several terroristic attacks beyond the borders of the conflict. Attacks targeted Beirut by two suicide bombers at 12th of November 2015(4) , Paris attacks 13th of November 2015 that were described by President Francois Hollande as an “Act of War” organized by the Islamic State militant group(5) , after that San Bernardino Attack considered by the FBI as an act of terrorism(6) , in addition to more than 100 attacks held responsible by ISIS or its affiliates from 2015 till date. Challenging by that the legality to use of force as a self-defense by those targeted states against ISIS, especially that the airstrikes by the coalition that started after those attacks has targeted ISIS military forces in Iraq and Syria. Bearing in mind that, International law permits such use of force in other’s state territory with latter’s consent, Security Council authorization or self-defense triggering article 51 of UN charter(7).

Access and download the full article here.

Dr. Alaa Al Aridi presented this study at the 4th International Conference of PhD Students and Young Researchers: Interdisciplinary Approach to Law in Modern Social Context. 21 – 22 April 2016 Vilnius University Faculty of Law Vilnius, Lithuania.


bottom of page