Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism

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The Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism is a proposed treaty which intends to criminalize all forms of international terrorism and deny terrorists, their financiers and supporters access to funds, arms, and safe havens. The negotiations of this treaty are currently[when?] under way has been[clarification needed] under negotiation at the United Nations General Assembly's Ad Hoc Committee established by Resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996 on Terrorism and the United Nations General Assembly Sixth Committee (Legal). The negotiations are currently[when?] deadlocked.

Deadlock[edit]

Currently, the negotiations of the Comprehensive Terrorism Convention are deadlocked because of differences over the definition of terrorism. Thalif Deen described the situation as follows: "The key sticking points in the draft treaty revolve around several controversial yet basic issues, including the definition of ´terrorism´. For example, what distinguishes a "terrorist organisation" from a 'liberation movement'? And do you exclude activities of national armed forces, even if they are perceived to commit acts of terrorism? If not, how much of this constitutes 'state terrorism'?"[1]

Proposed comprehensive definition of terrorism[edit]

Being a criminal law instrument, the definition of terrorism to be included in the proposed Convention must have, in the words of Carlos Diaz-Paniagua, the coordinator of negotiations on the proposed convention, the necessary "legal precision, certainty, and fair-labeling of the criminal conduct - all which emanate from the basic human rights obligation to observe due process."[2] It cannot be a political definition.

The definition of the crime of terrorism which has been on the negotiating table of the Comprehensive Convention since 2002 reads as follows:

"1. Any person commits an offence within the meaning of this Convention if that person, by any means, unlawfully and intentionally, causes:

(a) Death or serious bodily injury to any person; or
(b) Serious damage to public or private property, including a place of public use, a State or government facility, a public transportation system, an infrastructure facility or the environment; or
(c) Damage to property, places, facilities, or systems referred to in paragraph1 (b) of this article, resulting or likely to result in major economic loss,

when the purpose of the conduct, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act."[3]

This definition is not controversial in itself; the deadlock in the negotiations arises instead from the opposing views on whether such a definition would be applicable to the armed forces of a state and to Self-determination movements. The coordinator of the negotiations, supported by most western delegations, proposed the following exceptions to address those issues:

"1. Nothing in this Convention shall affect other rights, obligations and responsibilities of States, peoples and individuals under international law, in particular the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and international humanitarian law.

2. The activities of armed forces during an armed conflict, as those terms are understood under international humanitarian law, which are governed by that law, are not governed by this Convention.

3. The activities undertaken by the military forces of a State in the exercise of their official duties, inasmuch as they are governed by other rules of international law, are not governed by this Convention.

4. Nothing in this article condones or makes lawful otherwise unlawful acts, nor precludes prosecution under other laws."[4]

The state members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference proposed instead the following exceptions:

"2. The activities of the parties during an armed conflict, including in situations of foreign occupation, as those terms are understood under international humanitarian law, which are governed by that law, are not governed by this Convention.

3. The activities undertaken by the military forces of a State in the exercise of their official duties, inasmuch as they are in conformity with international law, are not governed by this Convention."[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thalif Deen, POLITICS: U.N. Member States Struggle to Define Terrorism, IPS 25 July 2005.
  2. ^ Robert P. Barnidge, Non-State Actors and Terrorism: Applying the Law of State Responsibility and the Due Diligence Principle 2007, p. 17.
  3. ^ United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996, Sixth session (28 January-1 February 2002), Annex II, art. 2.1.
  4. ^ United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996, Sixth session (28 January-1 February 2002), Annex IV, art. 18.
  5. ^ United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996, Sixth session (28 January-1 February 2002), Annex IV, art. 18.