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Definition Of Terrorism

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The importance of a legally binding definition of terrorism
Terrorism is a tool that is used by many actors including states. It is usually defined as violent acts toward civilians to achieve political, religious or ideological goals. In both the international system and academic sphere however, terrorism is a contested term without a legally binding definition. The United Nation since the 1970’s has been unable to formulate or negotiate a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. The problem is a result of the ambiguous and subjective nature of the term terrorism. The disagreement over a legally binding definition is one that centers around state sponsored terrorism and the inability to create a clear criterion of what actions are viewed as terrorist. Without a legally biding definition, there is no set of rule or characteristic that sets the standards for states and other actors to abide by. It allows each state to create a definition that best benefits their cause as well as blurring the ethical uses of certain weapons or tactics. Lastly it makes it harder to successfully pursue, prosecute and convict accused terrorist. A legally binding definition will thus give a clear understanding of what is being targeted.
It is hard to come up with a legally binding definition because terrorism is a very subjective issue. The United Nation has found it difficult to achieve such feat precisely because each state has a different opinion in what they believe constitute terrorism. As George Bruce states in his article Definition of Terrorism: Social and Political effect, “Social structure and order, governance of society and politics are dependent on good communication, and good communication requires agreement on definit...

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...ot only gives states the ability to prosecute the terrorist under war crime laws but it also regulated the tactics a state can use in combating terrorism. The negative effects stated by Schaf in my view strengthen the argument even more. It gives terrorist organization legitimacy in the eyes of the state and this is precisely what most terrorist organizations are aiming for. Furthermore it forces terrorist organizations themselves to finally follow a criteria that would that would deem them important and legitimate with certain right while simultaneously distancing them from attacking civilians. Schaf made a big point about how any military personnel or installation would become fair game. This I believe helps equal the playing field against the states ability to collect Intel and furthermore an attack on combatants would be more welcomed than attacks on civilians.
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