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Why should States cooperate through the universal counter-terrorism instruments when many regional counter-terrorism agreements are already available?

Stuart Repon-Ness

Mar 4, 2023

Stuart Repon-Ness

Nineteen universal counter-terrorism instruments cover conventions and protocols such as the 1963 Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed On Board Aircraft (Aircraft Convention), the 1991 Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection (Plastic Explosives Convention), and the 2014 Protocol to Amend the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board  Aircraft (Protocol to Aircraft Convention) (International Legal Instruments against Terrorism, n.d.) with the direction of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, particularly the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Maritime Organization, and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the international community has been developing universal legal instruments to prevent terrorist acts since 1963 (Universal counter-terrorism legal instruments, n.d.). 

The worldwide regime against terrorism is mainly comprised of the universal counter-terrorism instruments, which also serve as a crucial framework for international collaboration in this area (ibid) and offer several benefits that regional and subregional organizations have over national organizations in helping to implement UN Strategies (Rosand., et al., 2008). They include having access to local knowledge and expertise that makes them well-suited to create strategies that take into account cultural and other contextual considerations, as well as to launch initiatives specific to a given region or subregion or take other steps that support and expand on overall counter-terrorism goals (ibid).

Additionally, given the circumstances of global terror, states must exert effective jurisdiction over offenders. States must also make arrangements for the efficient use of international cooperation procedures. This is a requirement for official and informal law enforcement and judicial cooperation, which results in the prosecution of accused offenders or their extradition to a state that wants to prosecute them (Avakov, 2018). States must take every precaution to thwart terrorist acts in order for international law to be effectively implemented. This includes developing laws, regulations, and investigative procedures that reflect a proactive mindset while upholding fundamental freedoms and human rights (ibid).

In the 2007 UN Security Council (5779th Meeting), it was outlined that global cooperation in the fight against terrorism is needed now more than ever, with the Chairman of the Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee, Mr. Verbeke detailing the successes of the sanctions programs also known as UN Resolution 1269 (1999), however still required work and cooperation from all states (United Nations Security Council, 2007). While the majority of speakers focused on the specific work of the three Committees and voiced their concerns about it, the representative of Qatar emphasized that all States agreed that fighting terrorism was necessary and emphasized the need for a precise definition of the term ‘terrorism’ as well as the avoidance of ‘double standards’ (ibid). In contrast, Professor Anthony Cordesman (2015) argues that the rhetoric of cooperation in counter-terrorism comes easily. The reality comes hard. The definitions of a terrorist and a lawful government opponent vary greatly amongst nations. While every country at least professes to oppose terrorism as they each understand it, they disagree about what constitutes terrorism, how to define terrorism, how to prioritize terrorism against other threats, and who qualifies as a terrorist.

Because no one takes them seriously, broad agreements and declarations of good intentions are occasionally possible. They live through the meeting that develops them and the public relations department that promotes them. However, they die when they come into contact with reality, like many exercises in the diplomatic language (ibid).

In conclusion, while this paper recognizes that each country has its own agreements available, it equally argues that international cooperation is vital for effectively utilizing the framework and UN Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  However, the ongoing dispute on what constitutes terror from country to country will continue to plague the process and level of cooperation required for effective global safety.

Bibliography n.d. Universal counter-terrorism legal instruments. [online] Available at: <,by%20individuals%20and%20groups36and%20require%20the%20States%20that> [Accessed 11 October 2022].

Avakov, A., 2018. 1 Status of the Universal Anti-Terrorism Conventions and Protocols as well as other International and Regional Legal Instruments related to Terrorism and Cooperation in Criminal Matters in the OSCE Area. [online] OSCE, p.3. Available at: <> [Accessed 11 October 2022].

Cordesman, A., 2015. Cooperation in Counter-terrorism: Rhetoric vs. Reality. [online] Center for Strategic and International Studies. Available at: <> [Accessed 11 October 2022].

n.d. International Legal Instruments against Terrorism. UNODC.

Rosand, et al., 2008. The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Regional and Subregional Bodies: Strengthening a Critical Partnership. Center on Global Counter-terrorism Cooperation, pp.6-7.


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