The subject of terrorism is both emotive and complex. The topic is problematic as it combines many human experiences, incorporating psychology, politics, philosophy, history, strategy, and the military. Terrorism is also emotive in that the acts of terror elicit tremendous feelings. Besides, those who perceive terrorism are justified have emotional feelings towards the correctness of violence (Fink, 2012). Such experiences vary from states and regions globally, making it almost impossible to have a universal definition of international terrorism. Every country in the world has its purpose of international terrorism. The challenge in determining that violence causes the lack of a universal definition of terrorism is justifiable as the term terrorism is both emotionally and politically charged. The US considers an action a terrorist act if it involves violence and threatens life and violates the US criminal laws, coerce or intimidate civilians, influence governmental policies through coercion, cause mass destructions, involve kidnapping and assassination, and any other act falling within the state categories (Shanahan, 2010).
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In this paper, international terrorism is defined as a criminal act calculated and intended to provoke violence and brutality in the general public, towards a group of people or a particular individual for political or religious purpose in any condition unjustifiable, be it the consideration of a religious, political, ideological, racial, philosophical or any other reason that may be raised to justify them. Terror groups use the act of violence to destabilize political systems they disagree with, mainly through brutal acts directed at civilians or massive destruction of public properties to harm people (Kkienerm 2018). Terrorism acts are both violent and ruthless/brutal as they use threats or acts of serious violence with the capacity to stigmatize, denigrate, dehumanize, and delegitimize those targeted, including political and religious opponents.
Plan To Build and Sustain International Cooperation on Counter-Terrorism
In the eve of globalization and the emergence of international terrorism, continually reinforcing the prevailing levels of cooperation is critical to the global counterterrorism efforts. As mentioned earlier, terrorism is a complex, non-static, and emotive phenomenon. The associated motivations, support, and financing systems, approach of attack, and target choice keeps evolving, compounding the problem of ensuring the presence of effective counter-strategies (UNODC 2018). As it stands, it is challenging to begin the investigation and prosecution of individuals suspected of conducting terrorism activities. Sometimes it is even more challenging to institute a proceeding where the suspect, the victims, principal evidence and witness, and the proceeds of the crime falls under different jurisdictions and not under the authority of the nation concerned (Vervaele et al. 2017). Even though international criminality such as terrorism has flourished with globalization, state cooperation mechanisms are still ineffective and lack cohesion.
Hitherto, global cooperation is critical for criminal justice systems facing novel forms of international terrorism and criminality. It is becoming unrealistic to confine investigations and prosecutions linked to terrorism activities with national borders. Besides, criminal gain from the laws protecting citizens with the frameworks of state sovereignty (Ganor, 2017). Combing all these factors, there is a need for a universal plan to build and sustain global cooperation on counterterrorism. There is a need to redefine the current frameworks to match the new trends in international terrorism, including developing a universal definition for global terrorism and developing universal instruments in extradition, mutual legal help and collaboration between law enforcement bodies in terrorism cases, transfer of convicts, and criminal proceedings.
Developing a Universal Definitions for Global Terrorism
The first step towards building and sustaining international cooperation on counterterrorism is to strive towards a universal definition of terrorism. As at present, there is no universal definition for terrorism, and the implications are wide-ranging. Lack of a universal definition of terrorism facilitates misuse and politicization of the term, sometimes to curtail non-terrorist, resulting in states violating the rights of their citizens or citizens of other countries, including those contained in the international human rights law they strive to counterterrorism(Vervaele et al. 2017). However, the question of whether we need a universal definition of terrorism elicits debate, with some section maintaining that terrorism is a “term of convenience” without a precise judicial meaning, but rather a convenient approach to describe some circumstances (Ganor, 2017). Vervaele likened the challenges faced developing a universal definition of terrorism to the problems faced by those who tried to create a universal definition for the concept of “minority,” “aggression,” or “people” (Vervaele et al. 2017). The observations are right insofar as they go. However, if we keep searching for terrorism activities without defining terrorism, we are more likely to encourage its condemnation than understanding the phenomenon. In place of appropriate definition, we will be confronted with the classification of terrorism behavior, a more social judgment than comprehension of a universal feature. Despite any hesitation, the world needs a universal definition of terrorism to help build and sustain international cooperation on counterterrorism, even though the need to define the concept is not harmonized with the consensus on the possible content (Ganor, 2017).
Without a precise universal definition, terrorism and related acts will remain an everyday legal battle, a phenomenon condemned by many people as repressive and shameful but understood by none (Romaniuk, 2010). The legal value for terrorism will be incantatory and instrumentally but ineffective. Because of the absence of an international definition, one can technically denounce the idea that the US or any other country has a natural right to develop laws on terrorism. Therefore, it is necessary to create a universal definition in these areas, notwithstanding the challenges of realizing it, and international law must be pushed in the same direction. The definition of international terrorism must be separated from the idea of its legitimization. A clear definition can only be instituted based on the apparent order of the global community at any given time (Ganor, 2017). It is challenging to have sustainable global cooperation on counterterrorism without a clear international definition of terrorism.
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Developing Universal Instruments on Counter-Terrorism
When it comes to global cooperation in criminal issues, countries enter into regional or bilateral treaties, participate by virtue of reciprocity, or ratify international conventions. However, owing to the universality of the contemporary terrorism threats, it is becoming almost injudicious to challenge it mainly through regionalism or bilateralism because the majority of terrorist activities today involve illegal cross-border activities between or among countries that may not have signed any regional or bilateral cooperation treaties (Miedico, 2020). The universal instrument on counterterrorism, which is by nature has expansive geographical scores, makes it practical for all nations to cooperate. Countries can profit from the widened scope of cooperation and even restrict or eliminate the grounds or conditions for rebuttal to cooperate when friendly with the necessary human rights values and accelerate proceedings. Interdependent forms of global cooperation on counterterrorism can be recognized from the scrutiny of legal doctrines and practices, including extradition and mutual legal support, transfer of criminal proceeding, execution of foreign verdicts, acknowledgment of foreign criminal rulings, and gathering and sharing of intelligence information between law enforcement bodies at the international levels (Nesi, 2016).
Extradition and Mutual Legal Support
The international counterterrorism protocols and conventions are global standards enforced through indirect enforcement systems of universal criminal laws, that is, through the concerned countries’ national legal systems and not the international tribunal or courts. As such, countries must integrate the obligations emanating from these treaties, including criminalization of particular terrorism acts, into national legal systems to be adapted to the necessities of national laws and, hence, enforceable. The universal law provisions are enforceable only through the nation’s legal frameworks if they are incorporated into the national laws (Miedico, 2020). Besides, countries should apply their national legal frameworks to accomplish their duties of international cooperation based on the treaties. For instance, Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) pertaining to extradition, states bring to justice through aut dedere aut judicare (extradite and prosecute) any person found participating in planning, financing, supporting, or perpetrating terrorist acts. Concerning mutual legal support, the resolution provides that mutual legal support may be requested to acquire documents that could substantiate other evidence, validating the argument that an offer was planning was underway (Hinojosa-Mart’nez, 2014).
Transfer of Criminal Proceeding and Execution of Foreign Verdicts
Another aspect of building and sustaining international cooperation on counterterrorism is by facilitating the transfer of criminal proceedings. The transfer of proceedings in international criminal matters from one state to another increases the probability of a successful and effective prosecution. With the present globalization order, it is not uncommon to have unlawful acts committed and the perpetrators and victims situated in different countries, and proceeds of criminal activities wired through financial systems of several states, and the criminal organization members also residing in another state. In such cases, it is more practical, fairer, and efficiently merges the point in one jurisdiction (Alter, 2014). The handover of criminal proceedings is a critical tool to expedite the administration of justice. It may be the only approach to facilitate international cooperation and pursue prosecution. The transfer is typically effective if one country is in a better place to carry out the proceedings and where the transfer is projected to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the prosecution in the state introducing the proceedings instead of extradition (Nesi, 2016). It is also essential for countries to recognize, accept and execute foreign judgments by other foreign states and issue verdicts in considerably matching terms minus rehearing the matter of the original proceedings as a way of enhancing international cooperation on counterterrorism (Ažubalytė, 2019).
Gathering and Sharing Of Intelligence Information at International Level
Cooperation between intelligence and law enforcement agencies is also essential in building sustainable global cooperation on counterterrorism. Resolving the cooperation among law enforcement and intelligence agencies at the international level is another avenue for sustainable international cooperation on counterterrorism. Most challenges faced at the intra-intelligence global cooperation can be transferred to inter-agency cooperation, building a global law enforcement-intelligence affiliation. There is still overall reluctance among countries globally to integrate international laws within the national intelligence frameworks (Derencinovic & Getos, 2007), hampering global cooperation of counterterrorism.
Overall, the subject of terrorism is both emotive and complex, bearing human a myriad of experiences, psychology, politics, philosophy, history, strategy, and the military. Such experiences vary from states and regions globally, making it almost impossible to have a universal definition of international terrorism. A universal definition of terrorism is vital in the efforts to build sustainable global cooperation on counterterrorism. Besides, the universality of the contemporary terrorism threats makes it almost injudicious to challenge it mainly through regionalism or bilateralism. Therefore, there is a need to develop as universal instruments on counterterrorism in extradition, legal support, transfer of criminal proceedings, and many other areas that require global collaboration on counterterrorism.
Alter, K. J. (2014). The new terrain of international law (pp. 3-31). Princeton University Press.
Ažubalytė, R. (2019). Restricting the life of a Private Person by Secret Means: the problem of (in) Quality Law. Jurisprudence, 26(2).