The Current Legal Framework of the Use of Force against Terrorist Organizations

AuthorPetra Perisic
PositionAssistant Professor, PhD, Faculty of Law University of Rijeka
The Current Legal Framework of the Use
of Force against Terrorist Organizations
Abstract: Events that took place on 9/11, when symbols of American nation were destroyed by
hijacked civilian airplanes, r aised the issue of the effectiveness of the currently existing legal
framework which regulates terrorist activities. Prior to that event, dealing with terrorist activities was
mostly regulated by conventions, many of which were ratified by no more than couple of states.
However, it became questionable whether these instruments are sufficient to fight terrorists who are
not only immune to a threat of s anctions, but are even ready to sacrifice their lives. After the attacks
took place, the United States launched agains t Afghanistan an armed action, ending up in a more than
a decade long occupation, holding Taliban regime responsible for the attacks undertaken by Al-Qaida.
The United States r esponse to the 9/11 raised an important question: what is the legal response to
terrorist attacks? This article explores the current legal framework of the use of force in response to
terrorist attacks, especially with regard to distinguishing terrorist acts which are attributable to a
certain state, from those which are undertaken by a t errorist group, not associated with any particular
Keywords: international law; war on terror; self-defense
1. Introduction
Invisibility and unpredictability of terrorist acts make terrorism one of the greatest
fears of practically every state, especially those which have a history of combating
terrorism on their soil. Terrorism, as a means of acquiring mostly religious,
political and ideological goals, is no novelty in the modern age. But in spite of the
fact that terrorism represents a serious and a long-existing problem in international
community, it seems that international law rules do not address it in a satisfactory
manner. Attempts have been made, but the lack of consensus among states has
resulted in many issues on terrorism remaining open.
Assistant Professor, P hD, Faculty of Law University of Rijeka, Hahlic 6, Rijeka, Croatia. Tel.:
+385.51.359.500; Fax: +385.51.359.593. Corresponding author:
AUDJ, vol. 9, no. 3/2013, pp. 18-30

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