How Do Terrorist Threats Challenge the Current International Legal Framework? Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3207 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 17  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Terrorism

¶ … terrorist threats challenge the current international legal framework? Should the current framework of international humanitarian law be altered?

International law" is a phrase that has been used often in the post-September 11 era, and in most cases the phrase is employed in relation to the activities of terrorists, or, to the activities of governments seeking to prevent terrorist actions against their citizens and institutions. In the context of post-September 11 terrorism, the world clearly has changed and continues to change; citizen safety is a concern on a global level as never before, and the use of force against terrorism is at an all-time high. What laws apply in these stressful, dangerous times?

This paper will review existing International law, challenges to those laws, how countries have responded to terrorism vis-a-vis the implementation of new laws, the justifications used by countries to side-step existing laws, and more.

What is the Current Framework of International Law regarding Terrorism?

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On November 15, 2004, the Vice President of India, Bhairon Sing Shekhawat said there is "an urgent need to develop strong international law that comprehensively addresses the issue of terrorism" (PTI, 2004). Speaking before a conference on international law in New Delhi, Shekhawat stated that terrorism is "the biggest threat" to world peace and to democracy. And while "codifying such a law," he explained, "there should be a guard against any selective definition of terrorism, as international peace demands solutions to all forms of terrorism, including proxy war."

In truth, there are already laws against what is commonly known as "terrorism" on the books, called international treaties, "conventions," and "accords." According to the Interights organization in London, there is no "accepted definition of 'terrorism' (33), though the issue has long been the focus of international attention" (Duffy, 2001). The Title of the Interights report is "Responding to September 11: The Framework of International Law.'

Term Paper on How Do Terrorist Threats Challenge the Current International Legal Framework? Assignment

There are "no less than nineteen international conventions dedicated to terrorism in various forms," Duffy continues. There are problems with some of the conventions against terrorism, though, and those issues pop up when the state on whose territory a terrorist-related crime is committed has not bee incorporated into domestic law. The United States has enacted legislation incorporating international laws against terrorism into federal law; it is called the "Antiterrorism Act of 1990."

Section 2332 (b) of the act, according to Duffy, "covers attempts and conspiracy in connection with the killing of a national of the United States by an accused person outside the United States at the time..." And Section 2332 - "...reaches an accused 'outside the United States' who 'engages in physical violence with intent to cause serious bodily injury to a national of the United States; or with the result that serious bodily injury is caused to a national of the United States."

The Interights report (36) points out that international law allows that there are several states where criminal jurisdiction may be exercised, in the event of a terrorist attack: the state where the crimes occurred (the U.S., in the case of September 11, 2001); the state of the national of suspects (Saudi Arabia); the state of nationality of the victims (in the case of September 11 killings, there were approximately 50 nationalities represented in the World Trade Center attack); "and, for certain serious international crimes, all states, based on universal jurisdiction."

In the event that national courts prefer not to assume the role of investigating and prosecuting criminals connected with terrorist acts, other jurisdictions may become involved. One, the Security Council of the UN, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, "has broad powers to take measures for international peace and security." Also, there is the International Court of Justice (ICJ), a court associated with the United Nations, and the International Criminal Court (ICC). According to its charter statement - the "Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court" - this court was set up on July 17, 1998, by a coalition of 120 states participating in the "United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court."

Any state may - utilizing indictments, a "concise statement of the facts," and arrest warrants - bring alleged terrorist criminals to trial before the ICC. There are also "cooperative" procedures (40) that Duffy alludes to, in which several states may cooperate with the ICC (or the ICJ, in the case of the Lockerbie crime where a civilian airliner was blown out of the sky by a bomb on board) to bring criminals to trial for terrorist acts.

UN anti-terrorism Conventions (http://www.un.org/English/Terrorism.asp):1) "Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents"; 2) "International Convention against the Taking of Hostages"; 3) "International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings"; 4) International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism"; 5) "Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation"; 6) "Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material"; 7) "Protocol on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports"; 8) "Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation"; 9) "Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf"; 10) "Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection"; 11) "Arab convention on the Suppression of Terrorism"; 12) Convention of the Organization of the Islamic Conference on Combating International Terrorism"; 13) "European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism"; 14) OAS Convention to Prevent and Punish Acts of Terrorism Taking the Form of Crimes against Persons and Related Extortion that are of International Significance"; 15) "OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism"; 16) "SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism"; 17) "Treaty on Cooperation among States Members of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Combating Terrorism."]

Terrorism and the Threat of Terrorism Challenges International Law

Fighting Terrorism" as Justification to Wage War on Iraq

The Bush Administration's strategy in "attacking terrorism" has raised a great many serious questions with reference to existing international law; albeit few questioned America's attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan, the first obvious instance of the U.S. challenging international law - using the threat of terrorism as justification - was the invasion of Iraq itself. Though the administration tried to muster support from the international community, and in particular, the United Nations, little support was forthcoming (aside from loyal allies like England, Australia, etc.).

It was not surprising that the UN Security Council decided not to sanction an invasion of Iraq by the U.S., since UN weapons inspectors were in Iraq, trying to do the work they were assigned to do under the UN authority; namely, they were in Iraq in search for hidden "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD), and though they had not found any, they were still searching, and the UN was urging the Bush Administration to allow the inspection process to play itself out, prior to the U.S. launching an attack on Iraq.

Its brutal dictator's notorious cruelty notwithstanding, Iraq was a sovereign nation, and Article 2(3) of the UN Charter states: "All members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, shall not be compromised." Meanwhile, using terrorism as a justification to brush aside international law, the U.S. launched a major public relations campaign attempting to link Saddam Hussein to the terrorists responsible for the September 11 attack on the U.S., and attempting to show that, in addition to WMD, Saddam had - or was in the process of developing - an even more sinister arsenal, nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, on the subject of the "challenging of international law," the respected journal Editor & Publisher published an article (Hanley, 2003) detailing the questionable - even flatly false - claims made by Powell in his appearance before the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003, shortly before the U.S. attack on Iraq began. The article in Editor & Publisher, written by Associated Press correspondent - and 2000 Pulitzer Prize winner - Charles J. Hanley, consists of excerpts from his own 2,500-word article on Powell's Feb. 5 speech.

Powell Assertion Number One: Among the most headline-grabbing assertions Powell made in that U.N. speech was his report that "Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb. He is so determined that he has made repeated covert attempts to acquire high-specification aluminum tubes from 11 different countries even after inspections resumed." But that statement was based on inaccurate data, according to an article on CBSNews.com (Feb. 4, 2004), former CIA Iraqi weapons analyst Greg Thielmann (and foreign service officer for 25 years) who, at the time of Powell's ascension as Secretary of State, was acting director of the Office of Strategic Proliferation and Military Affairs.

In January, 2002, "Thielmann had reported to Secretary Powell's office that they (his CIA staff) were confident the tubes were not for a nuclear program," the CBS article stated. And a year… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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