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Unilateral Responses To International Terrorism: Self-Defense Or Law Enforcement?

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Chapter Summary

Most of the terrorist activities today have international linkages, which call for multilateral responses to cope with the problem. Yet, the international community has not reached a consensus on the comprehensive definition of terrorism apart from general or specific condemnations of terrorist acts by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. In order to fill the gaps (lacuna) existing in international law, some States have resorted to unilateral forcible actions, either in the form of the exercise of the right of self-defense or of extraterritorial enforcement of domestic law. The right of self-defense is recognized in Article 51, and allows a State to defend against "an armed attack" coming from another State. Similar to many extraterritorial law enforcement actions, the US/UK operations in Afghanistan could well be considered as opposable to the latter under general international law, even if they may not be considered fully legal.

Keywords: armed attack; domestic law; extraterritorial law enforcement action; international community; international law; Security Council; self-defense; terrorism



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