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(410 words)

Author(s): Reuter, Hans-Richard
[German Version] Terrorism is the systematic employment of especially brutal and shocking violence in pursuit of political ends. The definition of the agent is disputed: historically, the term terrorism initially (after the French Revolution) referred to the reign of terror on the part of the state. Restriction of the term to forms of violence carried out below the level of the state is based on the observation that methods employed by the anticolonial struggle for liberation were adopted by other groups and employed in other ¶ conflicts. It would be good to distinguish between terror as a reign of violence on the part of the state and terrorism as a campaign of violence committed by agents below the level of the state. Unlike war, terrorist violence takes place from the start outside the limitations placed on the military use of violence imposed by morality and international law, especially protection of noncombatants. The function of terrorist violence is primarily to send a message. It is not primarily part of a military strategy for controlling space; it is seized upon for its symbolic psychological impact, as a way of occupying people’s minds. The sudden breach of norms is intended to provoke the enemy to unmask himself as the real aggressor; at the same time, terrorism aims to recruit sympathizers and gain the support of (potentially) interested third parties. Despite the existence of hybrid forms, we can distinguish three basic motives for terrorism: socio-revolutionary, ethno-nationalistic, and religious. At present socio-revolutionary goals inspired by Marxism have lost their power to generate terrorism, but since the collapse of the Soviet empire ethno-nationalistic terrorism has found fertile soil. The globalization of terrorism represents a new challenge: terrorist groups recruit internationally, act through worldwide networks, select their targets for their symbolic significance, and play to the eyes and ears of a global audience (Public). Since the end of the Cold War, the significance of religion as a driving force behind international terrorism has increased. Although the adherents of none of the three great world religions are immune to terrorism, Islamist terrorist groups have led the way – and not just since the mass murders of Al Qaeda’s coordinated attack on Sep 11, 2001. Terrorism that battens on feelings of political, social, and cultural marginalization and appeals to religious motivation is particularly inclined to engage in unrestrained violence, target victims indiscr…

Public Duty of the German Protestant Church

(1,118 words)

Author(s): Reuter , Hans-Richard
[German Version] I. Concept The formation of this concept goes back to the experience of the Kirchenkampf during the Third Reich and to the social significance that was ascribed to the churches in Germany after 1945. Talk of the public duty ( Öffentlichkeitsauftrag) of the German Protestant church affirms that church action is relevant not only to individual salvation but also, beyond that, to the common good. What exactly was meant by it was variable, and still is. This has to do, on the one hand, with the fact that the formula not on…

Security, Internal and External

(567 words)

Author(s): Reuter, Hans-Richard
[German Version] I. Security – from Latin securitas < s( in) e cura – subjectively means the sense of safety or freedom from apprehensio…

League of Nations

(394 words)

Author(s): Reuter, Hans-Richard
[German Version] The notion of a league of nations – drawn in part from motifs of Judeo-Christian eschatology (Isa 2:2–4) – goes back to widely broadcast plans for an organization devoted to world peace that were developed in the early 14th century (Pierre Dubois), in the 17th century (Maximilien de Sully, W. Penn), and at the beginning of the 18th century (Abbé de St. Pierre), but above all in I. Kant's philosophical tract Zum ewigen Frieden (1795; ET: Perpetual Peace, 1915). Against this background, even during World War I but especially in his Fourteen Points of Jan 18,…

Public Opinion

(1,019 words)

Author(s): Reuter , Hans-Richard
[German Version] I. General Concept “Public opinion” is one of the most ambiguous concepts in the history of political ideas and social sciences. on account of its dual empirical/normative status, the concept may refer both to a counterfactual claim and to a social reality. Its antecedent semantics ( fama popularis, vox populi, consensus gentium) may be traced throughout antiquity and the Middle Ages; in the early modern ¶ period, N. Machiavelli underlined the importance of the publica voce et fama as a condition of successful political action. As late as the 18th century…


(592 words)

Author(s): Reuter, Hans-Richard
[German Version] refers to the threat of force by which another person is to be restrained from transgressing a social norm. Deterrence as a function of the state monopoly on force becomes at first a topic of domestic political ethics in criminal law, then, in the international context, as a doctrine in security policy that intends to restrain a potential enemy from attacking by strong military means. The system of deterrence established in the East-West conflict based on the threat ¶ of use of atomic weapons of mass dest…

International Organizations

(432 words)

Author(s): Reuter, Hans-Richard
[German Version] Political science distinguishes between international governmental organizations (IGOs) and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). An IGO is a cooperating association which has been formalized in a multilateral treaty under international law by at least three states whose jointly fixed normative standards have internally led to a definition and balancing of expected mutual reactions; at the same time, the IGO functions externally by interacting with the member state…

War, International Law of

(507 words)

Author(s): Reuter, Hans-Richard
[German Version] Given the general prohibition of the use of violence in article 2 of the United Nations charter, the term international law of war covers only the body of international regulations that impose limitations on combat operations on both parties (including in some cases the UN itself) in an armed conflict that has already broken out. The modern law of war includes ethico-legal principles that were normative for ius in bello in the context of theories of a just war and have the force of customary law. Today, however, the international law of war is larg…

World Peace Order

(499 words)

Author(s): Reuter, Hans-Richard
[German Version] The project of a world peace order has been on the political agenda since the early 20th century, when a classic war between states twice transmogrified into a world war. After 1945 realization of a world peace order was blocked initially because world peace was enforced by a balance of mutually assured destruction (Deterrence) between the two imperial powers, the United States and the Soviet Union. When the confrontation of the Eastern and Western blocs ended in 1989/1990, implem…


(535 words)

Author(s): Reuter, Hans-Richard
[German Version] I. Concept and History – II. International Criminal Law I. Concept and History The German term Völkermord refers to a variety of actions undertaken to annihilate various social groups; the element of “murder” need not be fulfilled nor a ¶ “people” be the sole victims. The term “genocide,” coined by Raphael Lemkin (from Gk γένος/ génos: kind, people, tribe; Lat. caedere: to annihilate, kill) is more precise. Prompted by his study of the Turkish mass murder of the Armenians (Turkey), the persecution of the Assyrian Christians in Iraq at th…

Church Politics

(595 words)

Author(s): Reuter, Hans-Richard
[German Version] I. The term “church politics” usually means either the politics of the state (or a party or social organization) toward the churches, or internal church politics. In a pluralistic community, the former meaning falls under ¶ the heading of religious politics and will therefore not be considered here. In both uses, the origins of the term (though not of the phenomenon itself) are intimately connected with the tendency toward mutual emancipatio…

United Nations

(831 words)

Author(s): Reuter, Hans-Richard
[German Version] I. Origin Soon after the outbreak of World War II, the collapse of the League of Nations led to plans for a new world peace organization, as described in the Atlantic Charter, the joint declaration of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill publis…

Conscription/National Service

(2,668 words)

Author(s): Reuter, Hans-Richard | Ennuschat, Jörg
[German Version] I. Concept and History – II. Current Legal Situation – III. Ethics – IV. Conscription/National Service of Ministers I. Concept and History 1. Concept Conscription refers to a system of military recruiting based (in contrast to voluntary military ser¶ vice in an army of professional and/or regular soldiers) on the public, legal duty of all citizens capable of serving. Depending on the respective composition of the state's military, conscripted military service can be performed either in militia units or in a standing mobile troop. 2. History The basic notion of conscription is old; in pr…

Church Taxes

(1,135 words)

Author(s): Marré, Heinier | Reuter, Hans-Richard
[German Version] I. History and Law – II. Theological Assessment I. History and Law 1. In Germany – and with some variation also in Switzerland a…


(906 words)

Author(s): Bräunlein, Peter J. | Reuter, Hans-Richard
[German Version] I. Religion and Mythology The evolution of language and the intelligent use of tools and weapons ran parallel courses. Technologically, weapons for hunting and weapons of war were initially identical. Weapons as funerary goods go back to the Upper Paleolithic (Burial: I; Dead, Cult of the: I). The deadly power of weapons explains their unique place in the history of religion. Specially designed knives are used in sacrificial rituals (Human sacrifice, Sacrifice, Ritual killing); their crafting and use is reserved to religious s…

Conscientious Objection

(1,284 words)

Author(s): Grube, Andreas | Reuter, Hans-Richard | Hennig, Martin
[German Version] I. Law – II. Ethics – III. Practical Theology I. Law The right to conscientious objection in Germany, which long existed only as a special privilege granted to the members of the historic peace churches (e.g. the Mennonites in Prussia; see II below), today enjoys special constitutional protection through art. 4 III of German Basic Law (“No one may be forced into armed military service against his conscience”) as the most common example of freedom of conscience (Fr…

Resistance, Right of

(2,921 words)

Author(s): Link, Christoph | de Wall, Heinrich | Reuter, Hans-Richard
[German Version] I. History Ever since classical antiquity, the theory of resistance and the right of resistance have been linked inseparably to the understanding of sovereignty and its limits in both civil society and the church. 1. In the Germanic tribal kingdom of Western, Central, and Northern Europe, t…

Holy War

(1,736 words)

Author(s): Weippert, Manfred | van Ess, Josef | Reuter, Hans-Richard
[German Version] I. Ancient Near East and Old Testament – II. Islam – III. Ethics I. Ancient …


(3,738 words)

Author(s): Reuter, Hans-Richard | Rüpke, Jörg | Rosenberger, Veit | Otto, Eckart | Holmberg, Bengt
[German Version] I. Social Sciences 1. Concept. War is conflict between large groups, peoples, nations, and states conducted by force of arms. The more precise definition of the term and its differentiation from peace are disputed. Behavioral science tends toward a broad definition: war is a specifically human form of intergroup aggression, functional in the context of competition for scarce resources; in it the use of weapons decreases our instinctive inhibition against killing. The theory that war is…

International Law

(3,761 words)

Author(s): Hillgruber, Christian | Reuter, Hans-Richard | Schiemann, Gottfried | Otto, Eckart | Krawietz, Birgit
[German Version] I. Conception – II. Greco-Roman Antiquity – III. Ancient Near East and Israel – IV. Church History – V. Fundamental Theology – VI. Ethics – VII. Church in International Law – VIII. Islam I. Conception 1. Legal conception International law is the quintessence of the legal norms that regulate sovereign relations between the international legal subjects. International legal subjects are primarily states, traditionally also the Apostolic See, the international organizations created by the states on a contractual b…
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