Thursday, October 08, 2009

UN Starts Online Course On How To Fight Terrorism

Personally, I was hoping for something a little more hands-on:

The United Nations crime-fighting agency and its partners have launched a six-week online training course to provide Member States with crucial technical assistance for strengthening judicial and police cooperation against terrorism.

So what kind of material can you cover online that will help make a dent in today's terrorist groups?
Fifty applicants from 45 countries will work through the highly interactive online platform, which offers a comprehensive and interactive approach to best practices in judicial and police cooperation on counter-terrorism issues.

Topics to be covered include measures to prevent terrorist acts; exchange of police information; mutual legal assistance in criminal matters; and the search for and extradition of terrorists.

...In 2002, the General Assembly approved an expanded programme of activities for the UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch focusing on helping States in the legal and related aspects of counter-terrorism.

This especially targets the ratification and implementation of universal legal instruments against terrorism and strengthening the capacity of national criminal justice systems to apply the related provisions. In addition, the Branch provides substantive input on counter-terrorism issues to intergovernmental bodies, coordinating its work with relevant other actors.[emphasis added]
Just how 'highly interactive' a program can be that seems focused more on paperwork than anything else is left to the imagination. The idea seems to be to approach terrorism as a criminal issue with an emphasis on legal procedure.

Al Qaeda is no doubt quaking in their boots.

Of course, there is one item that the article does not mention, though I assume it will be covered on the first day of class: the lack of a UN definition of terrorism.

True, UN Security Resolution 1566 does seek to define terrorism as:
criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act...
However, there still remains no standard universally accepted definition. The reason in part is obvious:
The prime reason is the standoff with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). It seeks to insert into the Convention: "The activities of the parties during an armed conflict, including in situations of foreign occupation....are not governed by this Convention." Or, as the Pakistani delegate describes the standoff on behalf of the OIC, there is a need "to make a distinction between terrorism and the exercise of legitimate right of peoples to resist foreign occupation." In October 2007 the Coordinator of the informal negotiating meetings which had been organized "to move the process forward" circulated a document in which she named the outstanding issues. The OIC demand was on the top of the list, namely, "the importance not to affect the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination."
Besides, the UN itself seems to contradict its own definition above with UN Resolution 3236, which:
recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to regain its rights by all means in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations [emphasis added]
No wonder the class is 6 weeks long.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad
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