The Importance of International Law in Counter-Terrorism: The Need for New Guidelines in International Law to Assist States Responding to Terrorist Attacks
Terrorism, in one way or another, touches everyone's lives. Its affect could be as small as watching media stories on the nightly news and waiting longer in a security line at the airport or as significant as losing a loved one in an attack. As individuals come to grips with living with increased terrorist violence, individual nation-states and the international community have to prepare themselves to prevent, react to, and counter terrorism. This thesis examines whether international law provides an adequate framework for states victimized by terrorism to respond within the law. It highlights how international law currently addresses terrorism and the benefits and disadvantages of applying national and transnational criminal law and international human rights law compared with international humanitarian law to terrorism. Three case studies, the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States, the 5 September 1972 attack against Israeli athletes in Munich, Germany, and the 11 March 2004 bombings of the train system in Madrid, Spain, investigate how international law has been used in actual terrorist incidents, lending insight into how international law has been interpreted and used in the face of terrorism. They also allow analysis of other factors besides international law that impact a victim-state's response. Finally, this thesis proposes criteria that can be weighed by victim-states and the international community in order to develop an appropriate response to terrorist incidents and recommendations for modifications to international law that will maintain international law's relevance as the international community fights terrorism.