The Role of the United Nations in the Prevention and Repression of International Terrorism

  • Paul J. Rabbat


The role of the United Nations (UN) in the prevention and repression of terrorism, which has progressively developed over the last decades, has been significantly accelerated since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. While having identified terrorism early on as an issue needing to be addressed, the development and widespread adoption of concrete measures aimed at combating this phenomenon within the UN framework have historically been severely hindered by geopolitical realities as well as marked differences in the strategies espoused by the organization’s Member States. As a result of these difficulties, the historical approach taken by the UN in addressing the issue of terrorism has been the development of a pragmatic piecemeal legal framework, aimed at criminalizing certain “terrorist acts” subject to widespread agreement. With the passing of the decolonization period and the end of the Cold War, some of the substantive legal and political issues of contention surrounding terrorism have subsided heralding the advent of an environment more conducive to agreement.

The principle catalyst for change has, however, been the events of 11 September 2001 that have illustrated both the scale of the global threat posed by terrorism as well as the need for a comprehensive strategy to combat it. The UN has been at the vanguard of the push to develop this new strategy and has established a multi-faceted anti-terrorism framework. Despite the fact that the best known and most controversial UN initiatives against terrorism are primarily those of a coercive nature stemming from the adoption of binding Security Council resolutions, UN action against terrorism is by no means limited to these measures.

This chapter aims to shed light of the various institutions and mechanisms within the UN structure that contribute to the combating of terrorism and to provide a summary appraisal of their effectiveness.


United Nations Security Council Terrorist Attack International Criminal Secretary General 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Formerly Head of International Criminal Law SectionMPI for Foreign and International Criminal LawFreiburgGermany

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