Self-defence against terrorism in the post 9/11 world

Garwood-Gowers, Andrew (2004) Self-defence against terrorism in the post 9/11 world. Queensland University of Technology Law and Justice Journal, 4(2), pp. 167-184.

View at publisher


In 1986 the then United States Secretary of State George Shultz asserted that:

It is absurd to argue that international law prohibits us from capturing terrorists in international waters or airspace; from attacking them on the soil of other nations, even for the purpose of rescuing hostages; or from using force against states that support, train and harbor terrorists or guerrillas.

At that time the United States’ claim of a right to use military force in self-defence against terrorism2 received little support from other states.3 The predominant view then was that terrorist attacks committed by private or non-state actors were a form of criminal activity to be combated through domestic and international criminal justice mechanisms. The notion that such terrorist acts should be treated as ‘armed attacks’ triggering a victim state’s right of self-defence was not accepted by the majority of states. To suggest, as Shultz had done, that a state not directly responsible for terrorist acts could have its territorial integrity violated by military action targeting terrorists located within that state, was a controversial proposition in 1986. However, some fifteen years later, when the United States and a coalition of allies launched a military campaign in Afghanistan following the 11 September 2001 (hereafter ‘9/11’) terrorist attacks, there was virtually unanimous international support for the use of force.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

228 since deposited on 05 Jul 2011
9 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 42372
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: international law, self-defence , terrorism, non-state actors
ISSN: 1445-6230
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 Queensland University of Technology & Andrew Garwood-Gowers
Deposited On: 05 Jul 2011 21:34
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2011 09:37

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page