International Convention on Terrorism
TOPIC: General Studies 3:
- Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism
Calling terrorism “the worst form of violation of human rights”, India has decried attempts by some countries to prevent a unified international response to the threat. Despite terrorism being acknowledged as one of the foremost global challenges, any meaningful collective response to address this menace continues to be thwarted by some.
The entire South Asia region, has been impacted by the activities of terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamat-Ud-Daawa and others. The growing interlinkages between terrorist groups, cross-border operations including terror financing networks, propagating ideologies of hatred through exploitation of modern technologies and funding arms and weapons have certainly left no country aloof from the impact of terrorism.
India has thus, lamented the inability of the UN to adopt a legal framework to combat international terrorism, saying this “lacunae” is impacting enforcement efforts to destroy safe havens for terrorists and their support networks.
India’s Position on Fighting Terrorism
- India considers that the intricate linkages and networks that unite terror groups can only be challenged through concerted international cooperation and efforts by way of extradition, prosecution, information exchange, and capacity building.
- There is an urgent need for the world to come together in fighting terrorism, especially financing of terror-related activities and create conditions which do not encourage such acts.
- The international community needs to work together to expose and destroy the linkages that exist between terrorists and their supporters. There is need also for an international mechanism to ensure accountability and justice, enhanced dialogue and broaden understanding amongst Member States.
At the UN General Assembly., Ms. Swaraj said, “…On the one hand, we want to fight terrorism; on the other, we cannot define it. This is why terrorists with a price on their head are celebrated, financed and armed as liberation heroes by a country that remains a member of the United Nations. Cruelty and barbarism are advertised as heroism.”
India’s Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT)
India had proposed to the UN a draft document in 1996 on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) with the belief that it would provide a strong legal basis for the fight against terrorism and would be in the interest of all Member States to have a multilateral and collective dimension of counter terrorism effort.
- To have a universal definition of terrorism that all 193-members of the UNGA will adopt into their own criminal law
- To ban all terror groups and shut down terror camps
- To prosecute all terrorists under special laws
- To make cross-border terrorism an extraditable offence worldwide.
Despite India’s efforts to push a global intergovernmental convention to tackle terrorism, the conclusion and ratification of the CCIT remains deadlocked, mainly due to opposition from three main blocs – the US, the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), and the Latin American countries.
All three have objections over the “definition of terrorism” (the most divisive of the issues) and seek exclusions to safeguard their strategic interests. For example, the OIC wants exclusion of national liberation movements, especially in the context of Israel-Palestinian conflict. The US wanted the draft to exclude acts committed by military forces of states during peacetime.
Thalif Deen described the situation as follows: “The key sticking points in the draft treaty revolve around several controversial yet basic issues, including the definition of ´terrorism´. For example, what distinguishes a “terrorist organisation” from a ‘liberation movement’? And do you exclude activities of national armed forces, even if they are perceived to commit acts of terrorism? If not, how much of this constitutes ‘state terrorism’?”
Although consensus eludes towards adoption of the terrorism convention, but discussions have yielded three separate protocols that aim to tackle terrorism: International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, adopted on 15 December 1997; International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, adopted on 9 December 1999; and International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, adopted on 13 April 2005.
The definition of the crime of terrorism which has been on the negotiating table of the Comprehensive Convention since 2002 reads as follows:
“1. Any person commits an offence within the meaning of this Convention if that person, by any means, unlawfully and intentionally, causes:
(a) Death or serious bodily injury to any person; or
(b) Serious damage to public or private property, including a place of public use, a State or government facility, a public transportation system, an infrastructure facility or the environment; or
(c) Damage to property, places, facilities, or systems referred to in paragraph1 (b) of this article, resulting or likely to result in major economic loss,
…when the purpose of the conduct, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act.”
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has resolved to fight terrorism, separatism and extremism with a renewed vigour in the next three years, and called for a unified global counter-terrorism front under the coordination of the U.N.
- SCO would work to stop the spread of terrorist ideology and eliminate factors and conditions that facilitated terrorism and extremism, acknowledging that there can be no justification to any act of terrorism or extremism.
- Called for “effectively fulfilling” the requirements of specialised UN Security Council resolutions to counter any forms of financing of terrorism and providing material and technical support to it
- Talked about the growing threat from foreign terrorists who returned to their countries or find shelter in third countries to continue their terrorist and extremist activity within the bloc.
- The member states will work to improve the information exchange mechanisms regarding these people and their movements, and speed up procedures to extradite foreign terrorists in accordance with the national legislation of the SCO member states and boost international cooperation both on the political level and between the security services.
- Reaffirmed their concern about the risk of weapons of mass destruction ending up in the hands of terrorist groups
- SCO also discussed the special role of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure in the fight against “the three evils” — terrorism, extremism and separatism — to ensure regional security.
- The leaders advocated the strengthening of the international legal framework to counter this threat and support the initiative to draft an international convention against chemical and biological terrorist attacks at the Conference on Disarmament.
Connecting the Dots:
- What are the sources of terror financing? Examine the nexus between terrorism and organised crime. What steps have been taken to stifle terror financing in India? Discuss.
- Terrorist organisations and organised crime cartels have not only appropriated each other’s methodologies but have also developed a symbiotic relationship. Do you agree? Illustrate.