Foreword: Combating International Terrorism

By Nanda, Ved P. | Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, September 29, 2002 | Go to article overview

Foreword: Combating International Terrorism


Nanda, Ved P., Denver Journal of International Law and Policy


This symposium issue of the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy comprises much of the most timely thinking on international terrorism from a legal perspective. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the United States and the international community are addressing the challenge of combating terrorism through enhanced domestic (1) and international efforts. (2) The United States responded by enacting the USA Patriot Act (3) and providing for the establishment of military commissions for the detention and trial of alleged terrorists, (4) creating a Department of Homeland Security, (5) imposing immigration restrictions, and further tightening security measures. (6) And in the boldest of its responses, the US entered into war in the attempt to prevent weapons of mass destruction believed to be present in Iraq from being used against our territory by the Iraqi government or rogue terrorist elements.

International measures have included adoption of new conventions such as the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism of June 3, 2002, (7) which provides for regional use of a variety of legal tools that have been employed effectively in the past against terrorism and transnational organized crime. The Inter-American Convention, building upon a number of multilateral and bilateral instruments already in place, is aimed at increasing the effective communication between the governments of the Organization of American States and provides for financial intelligence units for gathering terrorist financing information, measures improving the communication between law enforcement authorities, mutual legal assistance, and improved exchange of information for border controls. Accelerated efforts have also been undertaken toward implementing the 1997 Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, (8) which imposed binding legal obligations on parties to prosecute or extradite terrorists and provides an international framework for cooperation among states directed toward prevention of terrorism and punishment of offenders. And the 1999 Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, (9) which criminalized financing of terrorist activities and established an international legal framework for cooperation in preventing such financing and punishing offenders, has also been given further impetus.

Perhaps the most significant development was the adoption by the UN Security Council of its Resolution 1373 on September 28, 2001. (10) In this resolution, the Security Council stressed its determination to prevent acts of terrorism (11) and called for all "States to work together urgently to prevent and suppress terrorist acts," (12) to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism, and to "find ways of intensifying and accelerating the exchange of ... information." (13) It also formed a committee to monitor its implementation (14) and directed the committee to establish a work program in consultation with the Secretary General on specific tasks under the program. (15) States were asked to report in 90 days on the steps they had undertaken to implement the resolution.

Earlier, on September 12, 2001, the Security Council had adopted Resolution 1368, (16) which unequivocally condemned "in the strongest terms the horrifying terrorist attacks" of the previous day and regarded such acts "as a threat to international peace and security." (17) The resolution "called on all States to work together urgently to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers, and sponsors of these terrorist attacks and stressed that those responsible for aiding, supporting or harbouring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these acts will be held accountable." (18) Also noteworthy was the report of the General Assembly's Sixth Committee's working group, which was earlier constituted to develop measures to eliminate international terrorism. (19)

To illustrate the efforts of international organizations, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have accelerated their work on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.

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