Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Louis R. Beres

First Page



This Article examines contemporary definitions of terrorism and determines that they are inadequate. The author describes five specific types of problems with current definitions and offers an appropriate scholarly remedy. This Article concludes, inter alia, that the United States should reject narrow, geopolitical definitions of terrorism. Instead, it should articulate and apply a single unambiguous standard that incorporates the requirements of just cause and just means. Absent evidence of these two elements, the insurgent use of force should be regarded as terrorism. This clearer and more objective definition will enable the United States to approach and address adversarial uses of force in a more effective manner.