“One man’s Freedom Fighter is Another man’s Terrorist.”

In the vein of the classic division between terrorists and freedom fighter, The Armenian Ambassador to the UN made a speech where he emphasized that in the UN’s approach to combat terrorism, “terrorism should not be equated with the legitimate struggle of peoples for self-determination.”

The challenge of definition is obvious as every fighting force views their goal as legitimate and their allies and enemies will use the terms to promote their political goals, regardless of the term’s appropriateness. Terrorism is very difficult to define and so far there is no accepted international definition, almost encouraging its use and abuse. As a lawyer, I must admit I find this confusing. Terrorism is as difficult a term to define as Genocide, yet we have a definition that was agreed upon in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Rather than wade into a fight that I’m sure I’m ill prepared for, below is the definition passed by the UN General Assembly in 1996:

Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them


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