This paper has three aims. The first is to introduce the semantic and political implications of defining terrorism within the United Nations: what would a definition of terrorism in such an international organization mean? Is it even acceptable? What would such an agreement imply? The second aim is to determine the concrete reasons of the failure, that is to say, the very contradictions it highlighted. The last aim of this paper is to analyse how the UN can act (and actually acts) against terrorism after such a failure: in the new global trend of securitization implied by the so-called war for terror, what would be the role of the UN, and which value would have the definition of terrorism in such a context?
[...] The University of Chicago Press WALTER, C., Notion of Terrorism in National and International Law', paper presented at the Max Planck Society Conference on Terrorism as a Challenge for National and International Law, Heidelberg SKUBISZEWSKI, K., ‘Definition of Terrorism', Israel Yearbook on Human Rights, For example: The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents (1973), the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages (1973), the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997) Neil Haffrey, United Nations and International Efforts to Deal with Terrorism” , in Pew Case Studies in International Affairs, Case 313, The resolution qualified as acts of terrorism: ‘Criminal acts, including (those( against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking hostages, with the purpose to provoke state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act, which constitute offences within the scope of and as defined in the international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism, are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other similar nature ( ).', S/RES/1566, Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts October 2004 ANNAN, K., In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all (A/59/2005), pp.25-26 Press Release GA/L/3276: Sixtieth General Assembly, Sixth Committee, 4th Meeting, 07/10/2005 TIEFENBRUN, S., Semiotic Approach to a Legal Definition of Terrorism', in International Law Students Association of International and Comparative Law, vol p.365: disadvantage of not listing specific acts as ‘terrorist acts' is that the decision will be left up to policy makers to determine who is and who is not committing ‘terrorist acts'. [...]
[...] Acts of war have been denounced as terrorism too, as Kuwait did in 1996: “Kuwait had suffered the ugliest forms of terrorism at the hands of Iraq, and was still suffering from them. Iraq continued to detain more than 600 Kuwaiti prisoners, including women, children and the elderly.” The representative of Iraq immediately answered: “Referring to the statement by Kuwait, he said Kuwait was one of those countries financing the outlaw gangs which carried out terrorist acts in various parts of Iraq, with the aim of destabilizing the country and forcibly changing its government. [...]
[...] However, developing a universal normative framework around a consensual definition of terrorism would permit to counterbalance the distribution of power between the General Assembly and the Security Council, but this is not likely to happen. Indeed, until the 1990s, terrorism was dealt with almost entirely by the General Assembly, which approached it as a general international problem rather than one relating to specific events or conflicts. After then, the Security Council began to take on the question of terrorism in response to specific events. [...]
[...] The definition supported by Kofi Annan and by the President of the General Assembly aims at reaching a consensus between States by muting moral and political elements and preferring a larger definition in which terrorism refers above all to acts of violence committed on civilians. Thus, whatever the cause would be, the targeting of innocent civilians would be illegal. In other words, as a rule, no national liberation movement or rebel group should be a priori exempted or condemned of culpability for terrorism by mere reason of its status as national liberation movement or rebel group. [...]
[...] According to Derrida: most powerful and destructive appropriation of terrorism is precisely its use as a self-evident concept by all parties involved!” However, the term “terrorism” has entered political debate and legal discourse, in national and international legislative and executive regimes; the coexistence of both the vagueness and the large diffusion of the term makes today necessary to develop a coherent legal definition of terrorism. To achieve this goal, a synthetic and universal definition of terrorism would need to avoid the semantic trap that regards the ‘means' (terrorism) in terms of the end. [...]
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