The Legal Response of the League of Nations to Terrorism
Journal of International Criminal Justice, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 78-102, 2006
20 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2011
Date Written: August 18, 2011
Terrorism was first confronted as a discrete subject matter of international law by the international community in the mid 1930s, following the assassination of a Yugoslavian king and a French foreign minister by ethnic separatists. The League’s attempt to generically define terrorism in an international treaty prefigured many of the legal, political, ideological and rhetorical disputes which came to plague the international community’s attempts to define terrorism in the fifty years after the Second World War. Although the treaty never entered into force following the dissolution of the League itself, the League’s core definition has been highly resilient and has influenced subsequent legal efforts to define terrorism. While the League’s 1937 Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Terrorism is often referred to obliquely in international legal discussions of terrorism, the drafting of the Convention has seldom been intensively analysed. By closely examining its drafting, this article elucidates how the drafters of the Convention agreed on a definition of terrorism, and why they rejected alternative definitions. In doing so, it hopes to refresh and enliven current international debates about definition in the wake of the United Nation’s sixtieth anniversary year, which saw renewed emphasis placed on the quest for definition.
Keywords: League of Nations, Terrorism, International Law, Definition, International Criminal Court, International Crime
JEL Classification: K10, K14, K30, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation