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In the News
Last Updated: 07/18/2005
Terrorism and International Adjudication
Adib Samara

In the past few years the international community has seen a rise in international terrorism, and international law has been stunned with a new problem that it has not been prepared for. Without international legislation defining what constitutes international terrorism, no alternative dispute settlement bodies are prepared to deal with such a phenomenon. This paper focuses specifically on the proliferation of international adjudicative mechanisms and whether or not this momentum can promote the creation of a new international adjudicative body to cope with the rise of international terrorism as an alternative means to the War on Terrorism.


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At one time ignored by the international community, international dispute resolution has attained a growing and unparalleled magnitude in the international arena. Since World War II, and particularly in the post Cold War era, it cannot be contested that the number and activities of international courts and tribunals have increased dramatically.[i] In a world where so many peoples live side by side, and where their interests often collide, disputes are inescapable. Although most disputes do not pose significant social problems[ii] and can be left to work themselves out, others require the immediate attention of the international community to find ways to resolve them in “a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered”.[iii] However, the world has begun to witness the rise of new forms of disputes, disputes that do pose a significant threat to international security: disputes dealing with international terrorism.

 

 In the past few years the international community has seen a rise in international terrorism, and international law has been stunned with a new problem that it has not been prepared for. Without international legislation defining what constitutes international terrorism, no alternative dispute settlement bodies are prepared to deal with such a phenomenon. The international community awaits an alternative to the use of force by states in their endless efforts to combat and suppress terrorist activities. But there is another phenomena in international law that may have a potential solution, perhaps not at the present time, but in the distant future. The proliferation of international courts and tribunals results from a necessity to spawn alternatives to war as a measure to prevent conflict escalation, and the need to provide adequate means for international law to preserve the peace.[iv] Although there have been many international responses to terrorism, the question arises about how the proliferation of courts and tribunals can promote the creation of a new international adjudicative body to cope with the concerns the world faces today. This paper focuses specifically on the proliferation of international adjudicative mechanisms and whether or not this momentum can promote the creation of a new international adjudicative body to cope with the rise of international terrorism as an alternative means to the War on Terrorism.

 

Terrorism and International Law:

 

Since the 2001 September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, DC, terrorism has become the centerpiece of foreign policy and international security discourse. However, the definition of what constitutes ‘terrorism’ varies from society to society, from government to government and, to a lesser degree, even from academic author to academic author. Such diversity of definition is problematic when one strives to develop a common policy against ‘terrorism’.[v] The highly politicized nature of this discourse is one of the main inhibiting factors to the challenges that international law faces in creating a proper legal mechanism to provide an adequate solution....

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[i] B. Kingsbury, “Is the Proliferation of International Courts and Tribunals a Systematic Problem?” 31 New York University Journal of International Law and Policy 679 (1999)

 

[ii] R. Bilder, “An Overview of International Dispute Settlement, I.” Journal of International Dispute Resolution (1986).

 

[iii] Article 2(3) of the United Nations Charter

[iv] Mary Ellen O’Connell. “Introduction.” International Dispute Settlement. (2003).

 

[v] Shmid, A.P. (1993). “Defining Terrorism: The Response Problem as a Definition Problem.” In A.P. Schmid and R.D. Crelinsten (Eds.), Western Responses to Terrorism (pp.7-13). London: Frank Cass and Co.

 

Adib Samara holds a Master's degree in International Law and Settlement of Disputes from the University for Peace.


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