The UN’s efforts in preventing and combating terrorism
The OSCE efforts in preventing and combating terrorism
The UN and the OSCE are international and regional intergovernmental organizations correspondently, which were created at specific times for specific reasons. Although, nowadays prevention and combating terrorism is on the policy agenda of these two organizations it was not so at the time of their creation. Because these organizations differ in many respects it probably means that they also use different approaches in preventing and combating this evil. One can certainly ask ‘why evil ’? The answer is very simple – everybody admits that terrorism is bad but neither politicians nor academicians have agreed on one common definition of terrorism, which would be acceptable for all parties. What is terrorism, against which the organizations and states are fighting?
“The word terrorism first appeared during the French Revolution (1789-1799). Some of the revolutionaries that seized control of France adopted a policy of violence against their enemies. The period of their rule became known as the Reign of Terror.” Today, the situation is such that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” and this widely known cliché creates major obstacles for the international community in the struggle against terrorism. Defining terrorism is indeed essential because as Ustinov correctly points out, “…earlier it was a problem of theoreticians now it is a problem of the practical men because a definition determines the means of solving a certain conflict situation.”
Although it is a common practice in the international law to provide definitions of the used terms in international agreements it is not the case with ‘terrorism’ definition in the UN or OSCE documents. Therefore, in this particular research the meaning of terrorism is derived from the neutral source, i.e. glossary of the University for Peace. So, terrorism is:
“Violent actions inflicted upon secondary targets that may be conducted by an individual, group, or government with the wider purpose of attracting attention, gaining support, or forcing concessions from the primary target on personal or political issues. Perpetrators of terrorism normally select, either purposefully or indiscriminately, illegitimate secondary targets (i.e., non-combatants and civilians) and target them with bombings, hijackings, and other violently coercive methods.”
So, the aim of this particular research is to find out which approaches the UN and the OSCE use in preventing and combating terrorism and to understand what are the advantages and disadvantages of these organizations in terms of reaching their goals.
The method of research is limited to text-based analysis, which includes review of legal documents of the UN and the OSCE as well as scholarly writings on the topic.
The hypothesis of this research is the following. Given the fact that the UN’s documents are legally bounding to the member-states unlike those of the OSCE it seems that the UN is more successful in preventing and combating terrorism. However, whereas the UN uses a legalistic approach to solving this problem the OSCE makes efforts to identify and address root causes, which give rise to terrorism. Taking into account that two organizations closely cooperate with each other in this field it seems that they nicely complement each other. However, since a number of terrorist attacks does not decrease but, on the opposite, increases every day it appears that the organizations should work out a multidimensional strategy in preventing and combating terrorism, which would include a combination of legal, social, economic, cultural, political, and military means.
The UN’s efforts in preventing and combating terrorism
The United Nations Organization was established in 1945, during time of the end of WWII when humanity suffered to such extent that it needed mechanisms, which would prevent another World War. However, military security was not the sole objective of the organization. The states agreed to cooperate on issues relating to refugees, children, culture and nature preservation, development etc. Terrorism was not on the agenda of the UN in 1945 and, therefore, initially there was no special unit set up for preventing and combating terrorism per se.
However, since 1963 until 1999 states managed to adopt 12 legal documents relating to terrorism. These 12 conventions and protocols represent a framework of the UN efforts in preventing and combating terrorism. However, whether this basis is good enough or not is a different question. Ideally, one should make deep analysis of these documents before making conclusions whether this basis is good or not. However, due to limitations of this research, I would just list these documents to get an overall impression about them and I would use a short analysis of them done by the UNDC. So, these documents are:
1. Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft (1963) entered into force in 1969;
2. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft (1970), entered into force in 1971;
3. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, (1971), entered into force in 1973;
4. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, (1973), entered into force in 1977;
5. International Convention against the Taking of Hostages (1979), entered into force in 1983;
6. Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, (1980), entered into force in 1987;
7. Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation, supplementary to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, (1988), entered into force in 1989;
8. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, (1988), entered into in1992;
9. Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf, (1988), entered into force in 1992;
10. Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection, (1991), entered into force in 1998;
11. International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, (1997), entered into force in 2001;
12. International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, (1999), entered into force on in 2001.
It appears that these 12 documents definitely do not touch upon many issues related to fight against terrorism and more comprehensive documents ought to be adopted in order to deal with this threat to peace and security in a more comprehensive way. “Most [of these documents] are penal in nature with a common format. Typically the instruments used are as follows: 1) definition of a particular type of terrorist violence as an offence under the convention; 2) requiring State Parties to penalize that activity in their domestic law; 3) identifying certain bases upon which the Parties responsible are required to establish jurisdiction over the defined offence, 4) creating an obligation on the State in which a suspect is found to establish jurisdiction over the convention offence and to refer the offence for prosecution if the Party does not extradite pursuant to other provisions of the convention. This last element is commonly known as the principle of "no safe haven for terrorists". It has been stressed by the Security Council in Resolution 1373 of 28 September 2001, as an essential anti-terrorism obligation of Member States.”
 Kegley, p.52.
 Ustinov, p.8.
 Miller, p. 41.
- ISBN (eBook)
- ISBN (Book)
- File size
- 490 KB
- Catalog Number
- Institution / College
- OSCE Academy