Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



have been asked to address the topic of legal responses to state sponsored terrorism. As has been mentioned, I am chairing an American Society of International Law Committee on Responses to State Sponsored Terrorism. You may be interested to know that the mandate from the president of the American Society of International Law, Keith Highet, said that we should focus our attention on responses other than the use of armed force. I think that was wise, because the members of that particular committee would never agree in any way on the subject of military responses to terrorism. I will discuss military responses to terrorism very briefly in my remarks.

Let me tell you what I intend to do in the time that is allotted to me. I will first distinguish between private acts of international terrorism that have no state involvement, much less state sponsorship, and state sponsorship of acts of terrorism. I will then discuss some definitional problems, both of terrorism, and of state sponsorship of terrorism and address some of the points Tom Franck raised in his talk. Next, I will turn to possible responses to international terrorism. Responses to terrorism fall along a spectrum from the least coercive to the most coercive. They include the following general categories: First and least coercive, is quiet diplomacy; second, is public protest; third, is the bringing of international and transnational claims, that is, claims that are brought in United States courts but that have a transnational dimension to them; fourth, a topic that Ken Abbott will discuss in more detail later, is economic sanctions; and fifth, is military force.