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date: 23 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Calls to legally define “terrorism” arose in the context of the extradition of political offenders from the 1930s onwards, with many unsuccessful efforts since then to define, criminalize, and depoliticize a common global concept of “terrorism.” It was only after the terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001 that many states began enacting national “terrorism” offences, spurred on by new obligations imposed by the United Nations Security Council. National laws remain nonetheless very diverse. At the international level, an elementary legal consensus has emerged that terrorism is criminal violence intended to intimidate a population or coerce a government or an international organization; some national laws add an ulterior intention to pursue a political, religious, or ideological cause. There remain intense disagreements amongst states, however, on whether there should be exceptions for certain “just” causes and, as a result, the conceptual impasse continues, even if it has narrowed.

Keywords: terrorism, definition, international law, extradition, political offenders

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