9/11 Effect: 10 years of counter-terrorism

U. TORONTO (CAN) —As the world marks the upcoming 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the US, a new book scrutinizes the far-reaching impact of Resolution 1373, passed by the UN Security Council shortly after 9/11.

The resolution urged countries to define terrorism and the financial support of terrorism as serious crimes.

Kent Roach, a law professor at the University of Toronto, specifically examines the responses by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Singapore, and Indonesia in his book The 9/11 Effect: Comparative Counter-Terrorism.

(Credit: Cambridge University Press)

Key conclusions:

  • A changed balance between liberty and security with the US, UK, and Canada relying more on military and administrative detention on the basis of secret evidence and prosecutions of speech associated with terrorism—practices before 9/11 that were largely reserved for countries such as Egypt, Syria, and Israel. These less restrained alternatives to criminal prosecutions have often failed to attain legitimacy.
  • Failure of the United Nations to provide sound global leadership since 9/11, including the continued inability to reach agreement on a definition of terrorism and the use of secret evidence for terrorist blacklisting.
  • American “exceptionalism” in the form of extra-legalism—the use of dubious claims of legality (i.e. the torture memos)—to support illegal conduct, combined with comparative legislative restraint, with the Patriot Act being more restrained in many ways than comparable British, Australian or Canadian legislation.
  • Failure of western nations to engage in rehabilitation of terrorists, a technique used with success in Singapore.
  • Fundamental accountability gaps domestically and internationally, as review mechanisms have not kept pace with intensified whole of government responses to the prevention of terrorism.

    The 9/11 Effect also highlights the discovery of best practices in shaping global anti-terrorism policies, and contemplates how 9/11 has influenced international law.

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