Boko Haram and the Ambivalence of International Legal Response

  • John-Mark Iyi


There is a tendency to describe Boko Haram as a domestic terrorist group. While this may have been true in the origin and early phase of its evolution and whereas its seat of power is located in the northeast of Nigeria, it is beyond doubt now that Boko Haram is an international terrorist group. In this chapter, I argue that it is no longer relevant to maintain the ‘domestic terrorism’ and ‘international terrorism dichotomy’ with reference to Boko Haram. I argue that Boko Haram possesses the international characteristics and meets the criteria to qualify as an international terrorist group, and maintaining such distinction does not contribute to our understanding and legal response to Boko Haram as a terrorist group. This chapter concludes by highlighting the impending ‘apocalypse’ objective of global jihadists and proposes areas for future research to deepen our understanding and response to the growing threat of terrorism in Africa in general and in West Africa in particular.


  1. Adibe J (2017) On the purported merger of Christian and Islamic studies in schools. In: Debating Nigeria: a collection of essays. Adonis-Abbey, London, pp 135–136Google Scholar
  2. Akanji OO (2007) The politics of combating domestic terrorism in Nigeria. In Okumu W, Botha A (eds) Domestic terrorism in Africa: defining, addressing and understanding its impact on human security. Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria, pp 55–64Google Scholar
  3. Amaliya M, Nwankpa M (2014) Assessing Boko Haram: a conversation. J Terroirsm Res 5(1):81–87Google Scholar
  4. Cassese A (2006) International criminal law. In: Evans MD (ed) International law. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 719–52Google Scholar
  5. Connell S (Summer 2012) To be or not to be: is Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organisation. Glob Secur Stud 3(3):87–93Google Scholar
  6. Flory M (1997) International law: an instrument to combat terrorism. In: Higgins R, Flory M (eds) Terrorism and international law. Routledge, London, pp 30–39Google Scholar
  7. French SE (2003) Murderers not warriors: the moral distinction between terrorists and legitimate fighters in asymmetric conflicts. In: Sterba JP (ed) Terrorism and international justice. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 31–46Google Scholar
  8. Grassiani E, Ben-Ari E (2011) Violence operators: between state and non-state actors. Stichting Etnofoor 23(2):7–15 (State/Violence)Google Scholar
  9. Haines S (2012) The nature of war and the character of contemporary armed conflict. In Wilmshurst E (ed) International law and the classification of conflicts, 1st edn. Oxford University Press, pp 9–31Google Scholar
  10. Onuoha FC, George TA (2016) The Abuja bombings: Boko Haram’s reaction to President Buhari’s actions. Afr Secur Rev 25(2):208–214Google Scholar
  11. Thomson V (Summer 2012) Boko Haram and Islamic fundamentalism in Nigeria. Glob Secur Stud 3(3):46Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John-Mark Iyi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of JurisprudenceSchool of Law, University of VendaThohoyandouSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations