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Terrorism and the State

Rethinking the Rules of State Responsibility

By: Tal Becker
Media of Terrorism and the State
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Published: 23-03-2006
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 304
ISBN: 9781841136271
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Series: Hart Monographs in Transnational and International Law
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £38.99
Online price : £35.09
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Loren Epson

About Terrorism and the State

Winner of the 2007 Paul Guggenheim Prize!

Today's terrorists possess unprecedented power, but the State still plays a crucial role in the success or failure of their plans. Terrorists count on governmental inaction, toleration or support. And citizens look to the State to protect them from the dangers that these terrorists pose. But the rules of international law that regulate State responsibility for preventing terrorism were crafted for a different age. They are open to abuse and poorly suited to hold States accountable for sponsoring or tolerating contemporary terrorist activity. It is time that these rules were reconceived.

Tal Becker's incisive and ground-breaking book analyses the law of State responsibility for non-State violence and examines its relevance in a world coming to terms with the threat of catastrophic terrorism. The book sets out the legal duties of States to prevent, and abstain from supporting, terrorist activity and explores how to maximise State compliance with these obligations.

Drawing on a wealth of precedents and legal sources, the book offers an innovative approach to regulating State responsibility for terrorism, inspired by the principles and philosophy of causation. In so doing, it presents a new conceptual and legal framework for dealing with the complex interactions between State and non-State actors that make terrorism possible, and offers a way to harness international law to enhance human security in a post-9/11 world.

Table Of Contents

1. Introduction
1.1 Terrorism and the State
1.2 The Law of State Responsibility for Private Acts
1.3 The Challenge of September 11th
1.4 Overview of Research
Part I: State Responsibility for Private Acts: Theory and Practice
2. State Responsibility for Private Acts: The Evolution of a Doctrine
2.1 Introduction
2.2 The Origin of State Responsibility and the General Principle of Non-Attribution of Private Acts
2.3 The Doctrine of Collective Responsibility
2.4 The Theory of Complicity
2.5 The Janes Case
2.6 The Condonation Theory and the Calculation of Damage
2.7 The Separate Delict Theory
2.8 The Presentation of the Separate Delict Theory to the ILC
2.9 Conclusion
3. The Agency Paradigm: The Principle of Non-Attribution and its Exceptions
3.1 The Principle of Non-Attribution of Private Acts and the Separate Delict Theory: The ILC Text and the Claim of Universal Application.
3.2 Recent Applications of the Separate Delict Theory
3.3 The Exceptions
3.4 Conclusion
Part II State Responsibility for Private Acts of Terrorism: Conventional Perspectives
4. To Prevent and to Abstain: International Obligations of States with Respect to Terrorism
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Towards a Definition of Terrorism
4.3 Counter-Terrorism Obligations of the State: The Duty to Prevent and to Abstain
4.4 The Standard of Care and the Burden of Proof: Determining State Responsibility for Violations of Counter-Terrorism Obligations
4.5 Conclusion
5. State Responsibility for Private Acts of Terrorism
5.1 A Distinction with a Difference
5.2 State Resonsibility for Private Acts of Terrorism before September 11: Three Theories
5.3 Use of Force as Lex Specialis
5.4 State Practice before September 11th
5.5 Conclusion
6. The Challenge of September 11th and the Academic Response
6.1 September 11th and the International Reaction
6.2 The Academic Response
6.3 Conclusion: The Dissonance between Theory and Practice
7. Inadequacies of Existing Approaches to State Responsibility for Terrorism
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Contemporary Forms of State Involvement in Terrorism
7.3 The Inadequacies of the Agency Paradigm
7.4 The Inadequacies of Use of Force Standards
7.5 The Inadequacies of Absolute or Strict Responsibility
7.6 Towards a Model of State Responsibility for Terrorism: The Inter-penetration of the Public and Private Sphere
7.7 Conclusion
Part III: State Responsibility for Terrorism: A Causal Analysis
8. Causation-based Responsibility
8.1 Introduction: Agency and Causation
8.2 A Word about Private Law Analogies
8.3 Common Sense Causation: Some Basic Principles
8.4 Echoes of Causation-based Responsibility in International Law
8.5 Conclusion
9.Causation-based State Responsibility for Terrorism
9.1 Introduction
9.2 A Causal Model of State Responsibility for Terrorism: Applying a Four-step Process
9.3 Returning to the Problem of Burden of Proof
9.4 Testing the Practical Viability of a Causal Model
9.5 Conclusion: The Policy Benefits of a Causal Model and its Status under International Law


“Not only has Becker succeeded in producing a tightly argued yet elegantly written piece of legal scholarship, but he has also convincingly shown how principles of causation can be employed to hold states accountable for private acts of terrorism. His book makes an important contribution to the law of state responsibility…one may expect that before long Becker's arguments for broadening the scope of state responsibility for private acts of terrorism will be taken up on the international stage.” –  Aurel Sari, International Affairs

“The author addresses the subject very succinctly…This book will serve as a useful source of reference for scholars, academicians and government officials working in this field.” –  Manoj Kumar Sinha, Indian Journal of International Law, vol.46, n.3

“…a tour de force in the literature on state responsibility. His scholarship is impeccable.” –  Craig Forcese, The Canadian Bar Review

“…comprehensive and clear, original and substantiated, conceptual and practical…A great international law book, Terrorism and the State is open to competing readings and, simultaneously, conveys a clear argument…Terrorism and the State is clearly the most significant contribution to the field of state responsibility since the ILC Draft Articles of 2001” –  Alan Nissel, Journal of International Criminal Justice, vol 5, no 1

“Becker is a learned and careful commentator, and international lawyers will benefit from reading his book.” –  Eric A. Posner, Political Science Quarterly

“…the bibliography is most impressive…his call for clarity and certainty in an attempt to base actions on 'sound legal foundations' is admirable…” –  Dewi Williams, Legal Studies, Vol. 27 No. 2

“'Terrorism and the State' is of great interest as it deals with present day questions. References to the late 19th century practice of State responsibility for private acts together with considerations on how the matter generally influences the relationship between public and private domains in international law prove to be particularly interesting.” –  Raffaella Nigro, Italian Yearbook of International Law, volume 16

“Aside from its important thesis, Terrorism and the State is a thorough resource on state responsibility and terrorism in international law and broaches topics whose importance grows daily.” –  Joshua Rosenthal, International Law and Politics, Vol 39 No.1

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