Terrorism is an act of violence, usually done in the public sphere, which is used to incite fear in a population in order to coerce change in public opinion or a government’s position on an issue. In many parts of the world, groups wage war with their countries, either to separate from the government or to overthrow it entirely. Sometimes these people are treated unfairly by their government, and their struggles are justified. Other times, these groups use violence against both military and civilian targets, terrorizing innocent bystanders to get what they want—these groups are terrorists. Often, though, it is difficult to tell the difference.
Today, several major countries—notably the United States and United Kingdom—are involved in the “war on terrorism,” a campaign to end global terrorist organizations. Other countries, such as Indonesia, Russia and the Philippines, are struggling to put down terrorist groups within their borders. Terrorism is increasingly an international problem: large terrorist groups can stage attacks in several countries, or several groups can serve act as allies in a world-wide terrorist network. To fight global terrorism, the international community must address many complicated problems, such as state-sponsored terrorism and cooperation between states.
Today, the UN is working to stop terrorism, and to ensure that member states act fairly when doing so. But many counties are afraid that these efforts will pose problems for national sovereignty—the right of a nation to control what happens within its borders. Also, the UN must find out how it can get more money for the war on terrorism and encourage countries to share their information on terrorists worldwide.
PAST INTERNATIONAL ACTION
UN Action before September 11, 2001
In 1994, countries created the Declaration of Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism. First, the document encouraged countries to share information about global terrorist groups, giving every nation an opportunity to defend itself and to take action against terrorists within its borders. Second, it condemned countries that support terrorists. Finally, it established a basic definition of terrorism by outlawing “criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes.”
In late September 2001, the Security Council created a more specific response to multinational terrorism in the form of Resolution 1373. First, Resolution 1373 called upon member states to stop funding terrorist organizations. It also called for the monitoring of bank accounts to determine which accounts were held by terrorist groups. Those accounts were to be “frozen” so that terrorists would not have access to their funds.
All over the world, terrorist groups acquire money through criminal businesses (such as the sale of drugs or weapons) and donations from supporters. By freezing their funds, nations will limit the ability of multinational terrorist groups to act. However, many developing nations do not have the capacity to monitor all of their banks. Similarly, in many countries, it is illegal to interfere with bank accounts.
Resolution 1373 also established guidelines for dealing with the threat of terrorism. These required countries to stop supporting terrorist groups and encouraged them to strengthen laws regarding terrorism. The resolution also pushed member states make sure terrorists do not enter their borders.
These goals, however, are difficult to achieve. Many countries already have problems associated with loosely controlled borders. Many nations also have little experience with creating laws that deal with the terrorist threat. And countries are often reluctant to share information, even information about dangerous multinational terrorist groups. Sharing knowledge of this kind might reveal secrets about national security or information-gathering...
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