There is No Legal Way for the World to Fight International Terrorism

There is no universal law to struggle with terrorism, so countries try to justify their actions the best that they can

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on January 31, 2003 that the struggle with terrorism was still the major goal for security bodies of Russia. The issue of the international terrorism is still the most typical kinds of global crimes too. Terrorism imperils almost the entire international community. Modern terrorism is closely connected with illegal arms and drugs sales, as well as with money-laundering and corruption. In this connection the struggle with global crimes requires not only joint military operations (conducted by world’s leading countries). It is also necessary to change negative tendencies of the world policy, which pushes whole countries and regimes beyond the limit of the modern civilization.

The international community should decide it first – who it is going to fight with and how: if it  poverty and hunger, or those forces, that use poor and illiterate people for the sake of their interests, forming terrorist networks from them. First and foremost, one should set up the legal base for the anti-terrorist struggle. This base is supposed to be universal for all countries. Present international laws do not give a precise definition for such notions as ‘terrorism’ or ‘murder.’ This makes a person, who performed an act of terrorism in London, Paris, Moscow, New York, or Tel Aviv a national hero in Libya, Iran, Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, and so on and so forth. There is a very good example to prove that: the Chechen guerrillas issue - whether they are  terrorists or fighters for the freedom of their republic.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage stated in the middle of January that Washington considered an opportunity to add Chechen armed groups on the list of terrorist organizations. Yet, the question has not been solved positively. Igor Ivanov, Russian Foreign Minister, set out his deep disappointment regarding that fact, having accused the USA of double standards.

It is a paradox, but Russia is supposed to prove to its anti-terrorist coalition allies that the battalion of suicidal Mujahideens under Shamil Basayev’s commandment is a terrorist organization. Russia has to prove that even when those armed groups seized the music theatre in Moscow. The events that have been happening to Akhmed Zakayev in Denmark is another good example to prove that. When Russia  presented serious evidence to prove his guilt, the West considered the envoy of the fugitive Chechen president a respectable man.

However, there are other examples concerning this issue too. The United States accuse Saddam Hussein of his ties with Al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. The USA calls Hussein a terrorist on the ground of this fact. Nevertheless, those people, who follow the events in the Middle East, know that the Iraqi dictator does not have any links with Al-Qaida network. Furthermore, Saddam Hussein has not been on friendly terms with Osama bin Laden for long already. In addition to that, after Iraq occupied Kuwait, Osama bin Laden asked Saudi sheikhs to help him to attack Iraq in order to liberate Kuwait. Saddam is aware of that very well. The thing that Saddam Hussein might produce or possess mass destruction weapons is another matter. Saddam has to disarm, or the international community will have to do that for himself on the base of the UN Security Council approval.

All United Nations members will not approve the joint anti-terrorist law so far. The countries will not be connected with mutual obligations not to help terrorists, or deliver them to other countries that suffer from their activities. It will not be possible to defeat this evil, until the world community has the universal law about it. It is also vital to solve the question pertaining to social, ethnic, and religious reasons that entail terrorism. They will keep nourishing terrorism until existing problems are not solved in a political way. There will be no method to stop it.

The society is supposed to have the joint terrorist database, which would have the information about their funding mechanisms, their arms and so on. There should also be a joint coordination body that would use that information in the practical work. It would be also expedient to summarize and use legal substantiation of struggle with terrorism in various countries: the USA, Israel, Great Britain, Spain, France, Russia and others. We would like to use the examples, which were published in the newspaper the New York Times. The newspaper touched upon the practical side of the issue, particularly about the issue of brutal measures of anti-terrorism struggle and their correspondence to the international standard.
Such measures were stipulated in the secret report, which was presented to American President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954. It was particularly mentioned in the report that there were absolutely no rules in such struggle. It was said there that a country was supposed to eliminate its enemies with more exquisite and more efficient methods than those, which were applied against it. It was also added that a country's nation should understand such philosophy.

That report laid the foundation of secret American operations, for example, Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s attempted assassination and the like. However, when those secrets were unveiled in the middle of the 1970s, the public reaction prohibited special services to commit assassinations. The American Congress passed the law in 1996, which allowed to use all necessary means, including secret operations and military forces in order to undermine, disorganize, and destroy terrorists’ international infrastructures. The word ‘infrastructure’ means everything that can maintains a terrorist. This law is based on the proactive self-defense concept, which is still valid nowadays. The USA launched missiles on Afghan camps in 1998 after a terrorist blew up the building of the American embassy in Nairobi. Americans believed that Osama bin Laden was hiding there. Over 20 people died as a result of the air raid. American senior officials said that if terrorists attacked you and you responded with a bombing, it did not mean that you violated the UN Charter: “This is not a murder, this should not be interpreted as a murder. According to the UN Charter, it is legal.”

T.Prince, a professor of the Columbia University, believes that USA’s actions are called intervention. The professor applied such a notion to America’s action, trying to identify the legal base for modern wars. The professor also compared USA’s actions with so-called humanitarian interventions of the United Nations. This principle makes a sovereignty dependant on the minimum respect to human rights. A tyrant will be overthrown otherwise (like it happened in Yugoslavia). As the professor believes, the birth of the new principle of the international right was reflected in certain criteria of fair cause. That was published by the international committee for intervention and state sovereignty in February of 2002.

Things get a little bit different, when it comes to the legal substantiation of Israel’s actions. This country eliminates its irreconcilable adversaries. Israel’s policy is called ‘liquidation,’ and Israel justifies it as proactive self-defense.  G.Smitrh, the former Attorney General of the CIA, once stated that Israel should have very good reasons to prove a threat of aggression on the part of a certain person in order to justify the murder of that person. “There are doubts that Israel can apply repression against the Palestinian leader, if Israel does not have the information to prove that he is ready to attack them. A military or an intelligence operation that is especially meant to kill a certain person, raises doubts about the fact, if the international right allows such an operation to take place. In my opinion, it does not allow that,” Smith said.

Colonel Daniel Reisner, the chief of the law department of the Israeli army thinks that the international right recognizes only two states: war and peace. Israel is not in the state of war at the moment, since a war is a conflict between two armies or two states. Needless to mention that Palestine does not have an army, and it is not a state either.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called Israel’s policy a challenge to the international right, specifically to the human rights law. The UN Charter mentions that citizens of every country (both political figures and common people) are not supposed to be exposed to premeditated acts of violence in peace time (if those acts of violence are conducted by citizens, agents, or military men of another state).

As it can be seen, there is no universal anti-terrorist law in the world yet. That is why every country tries to justify its methods and tactics of struggle with this evil. However, the world community should formulate the precise definition of ‘terrorism’ and develop universal rules of this game.

MiK News Agency


Translated by Dmitry Sudakov


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Author`s name Olga Savka