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Part II Practice—Scholarly and Practitioner Accounts of UN Treaty-Making, A International Peace and Security, Ch.8B Terrorism: practitioner reflection

A Rohan Perera

From: The Oxford Handbook of United Nations Treaties

Simon Chesterman, David M. Malone, Santiago Villalpando

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 28 February 2024


A consensus still eludes the negotiation process of the Draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. Given this backdrop, this article traces the history and evolution of the UN treaty-making practice on terrorism, and examines the attempts to define and address the phenomenon of terrorism through international Conventions, which provide for the establishment of the core legal regime of “extradite or prosecute.” It explores the challenges encountered in the negotiation processes, including “definitional issues,” which consider issues such as the “political offences exception”; whether carve-outs should be made for military forces of States/national liberation movements; and the notions of “individual criminal responsibility” and “state responsibility,” the latter particularly in the context of acts of nuclear terrorism. The article follows the evolution of negotiations on these considerations, which later moves to discuss the issue not in the context of a generic definition of the term “terrorism,” but in the delineation of the precise scope of application of the Convention, by “carving out” the other applicable legal regimes. The article concludes that the Draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism is a carefully nuanced and delicately balanced package fraught with both legal and political complexities, and strategic concerns for groups of States, and underlines the need for a compromise approach and political accommodation.

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