Home | Comment & Analysis    Saturday 1 February 2020

Implication of terrorism on human rights and peace


By Ukongo Benson Athia

The term “terrorism” thus, draws its meanings from the term terror. Literally, the term “terrorism”, which has been facing the world since the World War II, is yet to acquire an acceptable universal definition of its meaning, given the prevalent debates and disagreements over its globally admissible meaning and scope. However, terrorism remains a largely condemned international crime, given the tone the United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA)’s 56/1/of 12 September 2001, a reaction to the 11th September 2001, attacks on US, which held that ‘it’s heinous terrorism, that more than 3,000 people were killed in New York, Washington D.C, and Pennsylvania, and thus the member states cooperation to prevent and act of terrorism’. One could not adequately express the word counter-terrorism, without first disclosing the word, “terrorism”. One scholar, William Shinkels, reiterated that ‘terrorism has been offered a definition by as ‘refolding unfolding’.

Counterterrorism measures, that have been employed by the States and the international community as a whole, are neither immune from inconsistency with human rights, humanitarian law, nor have these stopped, prevented or mitigate the problems of terrorist attacks. Sanctions, blacklisting’s have deployed as examples of remedies in counteracting terrorists.

In contrast, Véronique Dudouet held that ‘although described as ‘smart’ sanctions against targeted individuals, blacklists, have in fact an opposite effects on the environment in which they operate, by turning the unarmed activists and their communities into terrorists. She further added that ‘until 2008, Nelson Mandela, the international peace prize winner, requires a special waiver to enter into the United States territory, due to his former designation by the defunct South Africa apartheid regime prior to 1990.

Counterterrorism, on the other hand, means here, a corresponding response to the danger. Ever since the Second World War, no common definition of terrorism had been concretely agreed by the scholars, regionally or internationally. Despite the difficulty, the vice, this threatens every corner of the world. Terrorism presents its impacts on the world at alarming consequences. It places every state and person in particular, in into uncertainty and fear. The failure to define it accurately exposes the world to the dangers of placing the wrong steps in counteracting its commission.

The United States Federal law, for instance, refers to terrorism as the ‘premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against the non-combatant targets, by subnational groups, or clandestine agents usually intended to influence an audience. The law further defined international terrorism, to mean terrorism involving the citizens or the territory of more than one Country.

Due to lack of universally acceptable definition of terrorism, one of the scholars, by name of Lefebvre, described the most repressive society ’société terroriste’. And Martin Crenshaw maintains that terrorism takes place in the service of the State and against the State. The Department of State of the United States equalled the countries with gross human rights violators to the international terror states. Expansively, why not also include, the threats of cutting financial donations to the West to the developing countries, as financial terrorism? Do your own findings. It’s highly suspected here, that the uncertainty regarding the unanimous understanding of the terrorism creates difficulty in designing counterterrorism measures, resulting into failures in prevention and stopping of terrorism itself. It’s further, expected that upon the completion of this study, the distinctive meaning of the terrorism may be achieved and introduced into the existing debates around the world.

The available literary works on terrorism and counterterrorism indicated that no consensus had been reached globally on what truly constitutes terrorism. The fact that no uniformity; on the meaning of the term ‘terrorism’, makes the research in terrorism and the counterterrorism, confusing but valuable to some extent. It’s in the interest of the research, that eventually along with the on-going debate, the thesis will stir more debate and introduce different approach on the terrorism definition, its countermeasures and harmonize the impacts of counterterrorism on the humanity.

William Schinkel had offered a valuable distinction between terror and terrorism, in which case he avers that ‘terror refers to action, designed to spread fear by states, and hence it works ‘top-down’. He added that it’s not the states that need to be influenced but the people. According to William, through terror, a state causes shock by its institution, by inducing fear to remain in control. Richard Cobb, presents the additional characteristic of terror, by emphasizing that, ‘to be effective, the Terror had to be uncertain, sudden; mysterious, it had to strike with surprise and speed’.

Shinkels stated that the United States had a mention in its policy of the Department of State global terrorism that the term terrorism does not have a unanimous definition because; the United Nations had been incapable of agreeing on its definition (….). Efforts at the UN in 1970 to adopt a comprehensive treaty banning terrorism could not reach any conclusion as they got bogged down in the debate about the underlying causes of terrorism and efforts to distinguish acts taken in the struggle for national liberation. The universal failure to agree on what terrorism is, makes all countries define it differently, and sometimes wrongly misinterpreting it due to transplanted definition.

The continuous debates to label certain acts as terrorist and others not, brings into light the degree more confusions and doubts into the possible future, unanimous agreement on what terrorism means and how best counterterrorism measures could be drawn based on known meaning and causes. In the UK, as a counterterrorism measure, arranging meetings where a real or professed member of the proscribed organizations will speak, is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. Aware of the huddles surrounding the common understanding of terrorism globally, there has been a massive misapplication of the counterterrorism measures, which have eventually impacted on the global human rights principles and the humanitarian law. Véronique Dudouet observed that ‘clear indication of a failure of sanctions regime to eradicate terrorism is the fact that virtually, all groups that have been proscribed in the past decade are still active with (debatable) exceptions to Tamil, Iranian and Basque armed forces.

Occasions have been found, when immigrants, are subjected to aggressive border controls, deportation and arrests, for being suspected to have been either in the territory of terrors (though not themselves) or in possession of some links with the terrorist groups. The United Nations’ powerful body, the Security Council, through its resolution 1373, dated 28th September 2001, requires all the members of the United Nations to set up measures that enable the identification of the terrorist during immigration and ensure the prevention of the abuse of passport, as well as the status of asylum seekers, must be verified. By its Resolution 1373 of 28 September 2001, the United Nations Security Council declared that: “acts, methods and practices of terrorism are contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations and that knowingly financing, planning and inciting terrorist acts are also contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations”.

Argo Avakob, rightly argued ‘effective implementation of the international legal frame requires states to make every effort to prevent terrorist attacks. Legislations, regulations and investigation techniques have to reflect a proactive approach while ensuring respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. As no meaning had been agreed, counterterrorism measures are then designed by the states and applied discretionarily.

Hans-Joerg Albrecht clearly outlined the terrorist criminal motive to include ‘subjective elements such as the purpose of seriously intimidating a population, unduly compelling a government to perform or abstain from performing an act or seriously destabilizing fundamental political, constitutional, economic and social structures of a country or an international organization.

Such, systematic suspicions, based on the country of origin of the suspected terrorist placed great burdens on the innocent people, who may find themselves victimized without sufficient proof than having been allowed an exit into the third country of choice. It is extremely ridiculous to conclude that all humans in the territory of Al Shabab or Boko Haram are, to that extent, terrorist. Why not level terrorism as an ideological response to some stimuli. Often than not, the country’s interference into the external affairs of a de jure or a de facto sovereign makes the affected country suspicious of its sovereignty seizure and thus becoming violent. I have been critically developing three serious concerns here posed by terrorism and its countermeasures. The first is to figure out the degree of vulnerability of the world to the acts of terrorism. The fact that most terrorisms occur with surprise to the victim states, leave the world in worry, notwithstanding the readiness and preparedness, to counteract the vice. The second question global responds to the problems dubbed as “counterterrorism”. The question was so chosen after it emerged that, in the presence of counterterrorism measures, terrorism continued to threaten world peace and security. It is from here to find out whether or not in response to counterterrorism, the terrorists deploy the anti-counterterrorist measures. Otherwise, success findings of the meaning of terrorism enable the world to design strategies to minimize and or prevent terrorism.

My third concern question features the degree of exposure to human rights and humanitarian principles between terrorism and its counterterrorism measures. In particular, the exploration is to find out the extent to which certain actions of the states may amount to the hostility to innocent persons. To this end, it will also be important to know whether the terrorists themselves are the victims of their own ignorance, convictions or beliefs. There’s more need to study terrorism since it’s so crucial that, it intends to produce the original knowledge on terrorism and counterterrorism, its impacts on humanitarian obligations of the world. And after all, to analyze the means of harmonizing the global or states’ counterterrorism measures with humanitarian demands by the international community.

The uncertainty eventually, throws doubts unto the claim of being against terrorism, selling sophisticated weapons to suspected terrorists and opting to generalize certain countries as terrorists, including the children and poor women. The dangerous plans President Donald Trump of the United States of America, to fence off Mexico are few of the bad examples of exposed are the vulnerable citizens of this world, especially the refugees and economic immigrants. Somewhere around the world, I asked a trusted and respected Somali national, as to why they as Somalis, through African customs and its elders, to sit down with Al Shabab? This does not mean that brokering peace is an instant support their radical views and dangerous acts against humanity. Rather restrictions on definition and scopes, which should be directed towards finding a common grounds of bringing lasting peace to Al Shabab, Somalia and other regional countries. Halting all operations against the terrorists, stand the best foundation to initiate the peace. You could not bombard someone you want to engage in peace talks and he or she will entertain any proposal. I then, simply say, after all, most of your people are Muslims and if Shari’a law (from Al Shabab’s perspective) is what all would agree to run your country, then go for it, provided it pacifies the region and Somalia, in particular. We did not reach a complete conclusion. It could highly be suspected that, destabilization that beautiful country since 1991, might have been a project to engage in the illegal trade of human trafficking, drugs and money laundering, through the non-existence of the functional government to run the seaports.

The author is a South Sudanese Lawyer. He holds the Bachelor of Laws and Master of Law, majoring in international law. Though a member of South Sudan Bar Association, the views expressed supra are purely the views of the author. It does not, whatsoever reflects the views of any private or public institution and society, to which the author may belong. Reachable at: ukongo2004@gmail.com

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