However, as explained in Part IV, there are a number of substantive gaps and practical shortcomings in this legal framework.
Although these have been partially overcome in what might be described as a ‘new generation’ of counter-terrorism conventions concluded since the 1990s, it remains the case that efforts to prosecute terrorist suspects may be frustrated where there is a lack of international cooperation.
As is appropriate, the views of Australias former chief law officer, Phillip Ruddock, are also presented.
It provides a balanced commentary on legal reform in Australia in response to the events on September 2001 and beyond.
New laws specifically designed to forestall terrorist activity have been a key response.
describes these laws and debates both their effectiveness and impact on civil liberties.
Some terrorist acts have, for instance, been incorrectly characterised as ‘acts of war’. Definitional ambiguity also allows some armed conflict situations, such as the ongoing military engagement by US-led forces in Iraq, to be described in crude terms as part of the ‘war on terrorism’. Moreover without a definition of terrorism, the ubiquitous expressions ‘war on terror’ and ‘war on terrorism’ can have no more than rhetorical content and may be employed to inhibit valid dissent, de-legitimise political opponents and trample upon human rights. Various branches of international law have a bearing on international efforts to suppress terrorist violence.
As explained by Devika Hovell in her contribution to this thematic issue, international legal principles relating to the use of armed force have been relied upon by states in limited circumstances to justify military action in response to terrorist attacks. However, such responses remain highly exceptional and of questionable long-term effectiveness. Instead, a variety of alternative non-military strategies constitute the chief methods for suppressing terrorism.
How can we ensure national security against people unafraid to kill themselves along with their victims - people who, self-evidently, will not be deterred by traditional laws which punish offenders after their crimes are committed.