6 Dec 2010

The Emerging International Law of Terrorism

In the wake of the recent rise in acts of terrorism and those which can more particularly be described as those of international terrorism, where the destructive actions are designed and garnered across national boundaries, a recent paper on SSRN makes an attempt to examine "whether contemporary terrorism and counter-terrorism responses have led to a new or emerging public international law of terrorism." Ben Saul in the paper titled "The Emerging International Law of Terrorism" discusses the recently emergence amongst the international law front of the specific rules to deal with terrorism.

The abstract of the paper, an apt introduction to its contents, states;
Until recently, terrorism been addressed under existing frameworks of the law on the use of force, humanitarian law and human rights law, or under sectoral treaties dealing with particular offences. This article asks whether there is now an emerging ‘international law of terrorism’ or ‘global anti-terrorism law’ of which it is possible to speak with increasing confidence, just as one can speak of specialised (or self-contained) regimes on the law of the sea, or of human rights, or international environmental law. It identifies key recent patterns in response to contemporary terrorism: (1) new or emerging anti-terrorism norms (in the criminal and financing fields) which can be properly called international anti-terrorism law; (2) an increasing clarification or particularization of general norms in their application to terrorism, usually without generating ‘new’ law as such; and (3) the continuing application of unaltered general norms to the problem of terrorism. While the focus is on developments in international criminal law and anti-financing law, the article also broadly charts the key trends in the law on the use of force, humanitarian law and human rights law.
The paper goes on to examine the "conceptual definition of Terrorism " in the context of International Criminal Law and explores the future trends in this area of international law in as much as the law is required to deal with various niche aspects such as terrorist financing,;international use of force against terrorists; the conflict with international humanitarian law; etc. to conclude that "the successful conclusion of the UN Draft Comprehensive Terrorism Convention might go some way towards consolidating and progressively developing a field of global anti-terrorism law and enhancing the effectiveness and clarity of counter-terrorism efforts. Such a 'framework‘ convention would establish conceptual agreement on the definition of terrorism and exceptions to it, as well as setting out principles for resolving conflicts between anti-terrorism norms (including the sectoral treaties) and between other international norms and anti-terrorism norms (particularly as regards international criminal law, humanitarian law, Security Council measures, and human rights law)."

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