Terrorism has become one of the most urgent and frequently discussed issues in the global agenda over the last decade. Currently, terrorism is a factor which destabilizes gradual development of international relations. Moreover, the acts of violence are considered to be a grave threat to humanity. They influence the security of countries and their citizens, entail huge political and economic losses, and have a strong psychological impact on the population. Furthermore, terrorist activity subjugates globally the nations and lacks explicit state borders. The international nature of this hostile phenomenon determines the need for an adequate system of anti-terrorism measures. The paper discusses the threat of terrorism, the counter-terrorism treaties, and the importance of international security.
It might be difficult to give a clear definition of terrorism because this concept relates to different meanings. Terrorism can refer to politics or belong to the ordinary criminal offense. Lizardo (2008) states that terrorists are “the international state system‘s outlaws, incapable of justifying their actions, and unable to lean on tradition and custom in their attempt to engage in political violence.” Thus, people face different kinds of terrorism: individual, collective, national, and international. The nature of violence can be based on the origin, religion, gender, and social status of the group. As a result, there are various manifestations of terrorist activities which usually deprive people of their basic rights.
Undoubtedly, terrorism causes many troubles to human lives, security, freedom, values, democracy, as well as to the existence of the whole civilization. Indeed, its effects pose a bigger threat compared to accidents, war, criminal activities, or natural disasters. The major attacks “have taken about 100 innocent lives for every terrorist directly involved, and the trend in the scale of attacks may well be toward even higher numbers killed” (Hardin 2004). Moreover, it ignites dangerous and violent events which are hard to predict. Terrorist attacks often inflict serious casualties. They involve the destruction of material and spiritual values that remain damaged for a long time, sow hatred between nations, provoke war, and increase distrust between social and ethnic groups. Unfortunately, their consequences might not be resolved within a generation.
In the 21st century, security threats have increased significantly. They do not simply correspond to individual countries and national borders. “Extremist organizations such as al-Qaida, Hamas, and the Tamil Tigers engage in terrorism because it frequently delivers the desired response” (Kydd & Walter 2006). New criminal networks are usually interrelated. They are mutually organized in order to blur the boundaries between crime and terrorism. Both international community and every country should take considerable efforts aimed at combating terrorism. Nia (2010) argues that the events of 9/11 became the wake-up call to the international community. The tragic event proved the significant danger of uncontrolled violent crimes to people. The September 11 attacks in 2001 dismayed not only the American society but also global community which has been pursuing the system of ideas about national security in the world.
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The United States introduced many regulations and treaties on terrorism. After the tragic events on September 11, 2001, the administration with the support of the U.S. Congress developed international and national programs to combat terrorism inside the country and in different regions of the world. The basic concept of the programs is to boost substantially the security. That decision affected the relationship between citizens, society and state, increasing the value of the latter and creating objective conditions for the limitation of the rights and freedoms of citizens. Proposed restrictions should increase national and personal security. In the country, there is the proactive movement of citizens which includes voluntary fire brigades and intensifies the activities of neighboring communities. Obviously, the situation in the field of legal regulation against terrorism was changed after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Two months after the tragedy and the introduction of the emergency state, the U.S. President issued the decree (Military Order) on the detention, treatment and cases against non-citizens in the war against terrorism (Murphy 2003). The U.S. government combats terrorism through economic sanctions on the countries that sponsor or commit terrorist actions. These states include Syria, Libya, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Cuba, Sudan, and Afghanistan (Murphy 2003). External measures to fight violence include the adoption of special anti-terrorism laws and the interaction with other states struggling against terrorism. Trying to adequately respond to terrorist threats, the U.S. government has established and continues to maintain the national system of anti-terrorist measures at the proper level. The experience in the fight against terrorism in the United States and its legal basis give the footing for the activities of law enforcement agencies in many countries.
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There are many active participants of the international anti-terrorist cooperation. Moreover, both universal and regional members contribute tremendously to the progress of the international process of terrorism prevention. In fact, they managed to form intersystem branch of law devoted to the elimination of escalating violence. The combination of national and international laws aims at preventing, suppressing, and combating terrorism. It stimulates the establishment and activities of both national and international counter-terrorism systems. Since the beginning of the struggle against terrorism, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom have initiated new radical legislative basis providing unprecedented power to police and intelligence agencies. Thus, they have the rights to hold and question people, who might know information related to terrorism (Wolfendale 2007). The development of international standards is one of the most important areas of international cooperation in the fight against crime. “The Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, adopted in Tokyo in 1963, is considered to be the first international treaty against terrorism” (O’Donell 2008). The international standards is a set of specific rules, both mandatory and recommendatory, which govern the relations between states.
The centerpiece of the fight against terrorism belongs to the United Nations (UN). The organization designed international standards that can be divided into two large groups. The first group includes standards of contractual origin that appear in the international agreements. Standards related to the second group are mainly advisory. In most cases, these resolutions are followed by the principal organs of UN, primarily the General Assembly and the Security Council. “The Security Council is a guardian of international peace and security” (Vark 2009). It consists of fifteen member states and acts on behalf of the members of the United Nations, maintaining international security and peace.
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“Since 1963, the international community has elaborated 19 international legal instruments to prevent terrorist acts” (‘International legal instruments’ n.d.). In fact, the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) helped to design the specific regulations of fighting terrorism. The treaties related to civil aviation, international protection of officers, taking hostages, nuclear material, marine navigation, explosives, terrorist bombings, financing terrorism, and nuclear terrorism (‘International legal instruments’ n.d.). The efforts of the international community to prevent and reduce the financing of terrorism determine the fight against its aspects. Without doubt, the members of peace movement conduct required procedures at the international and regional levels.
Terrorism impacts directly human dignity depriving people of the opportunity to enjoy the right to life, liberty, and physical integrity. In addition, it could destabilize the government, undermine the functioning of civil society, and create a threat to peace, security and socio-economic development. Consequently, it affects the possibilities of realization of human rights. “The need to counter the threat of terrorism is claimed to both justify and require radical infringements of civil liberties such as the right to privacy, the right to due process, and the right not to be detained without just cause” (Wolfendale 2007). Violation of human rights and principles of law forces the authority to take drastic measures to combat terrorism. Unfortunately, the guardians of peace might resort to torture and ill-treatment often ignoring legal and practical regulations, including regular independent monitoring of detention centers. Those suspected of being involved in terrorist activity could become the victims of torture and other serious violations of human rights. Thus, while combating terrorism, it is crucial to remain rational and follow international legal obligations, including a promise not to extradite.
An independent judiciary in some countries has raised many questions. The review of cases of civilians in emergency courts affected the efficiency of the regular judicial system. The global fight against terrorism must be on the basis of respect for human rights and the rule of law. As a result, national counter-terrorism strategies should be formed. They would help to prevent acts of terrorism, prosecute those responsible for the criminal acts, promote and protect human rights and the principles of law. LeGloannec, Irondelle, and Cadier (2013) emphasize that “in the context of securitization, migration flows are said to carry risks, facilitating the movements and activities of terrorist groups.” Nations should ensure the possibility to guard human rights of their citizens and other persons. They should take positive action for their protection against the threat of terrorism and bring the guilty to justice.
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In conclusion, the threat of terrorism remains relevant. The global community should continue its fight because not all states have joined the main international anti-terrorist convention. The society tries to solve this problem as well as the current economic crisis and political instability. During the period of radical transformations, social contradictions exacerbate. Moreover, new conflicts arise, the usual way of life breaks, and crime situation worsens. Every form of terrorism has become a real threat not only to separate countries but also to the entire world community. Therefore, the scale of terrorism and its transnational character force governments to establish an international system which will counter it and coordinate the efforts of different countries on a long-term basis. Thus, the creation of international organizations to reduce the acts of violence is highly important for the international security.