The definition of terrorism can be considered rather controversial. Thus, multiple legal systems and governmental organizations tend to use different definitions of this phenomenon in their native legislation. Thus, until now, the international community has not formulated a common, universally agreed and legal definition of terrorism. Nevertheless, its more common definition underlines that terrorism is a political, ideological and/or religious violence committed by no-state actors.
The task of this reaction paper is to define terrorist conspiracies and international standards of incitement analyzed in Chapter 4 in Understanding the Law of Terrorism by McCormack (2007).
This chapter discusses the specific aspects of the two abovementioned phenomena. Thus, the paper will make an attempt to define incitement and conspiracies, discuss some categories of conspiracies, when the objective has no criminal character, as well as look at the main types of incitement that can be applicable to the criminal law theory.
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Keywords: terrorism, conspiracy, incitement
Reaction Paper: Chapter 4
This paper will seek to clarify the specific features and elements of terrorism, define terrorist conspiracies and the international standards of incitement through the prism of social conflicts and increasing aggression (both: internal and external).
According to the international law and criminal legislation of most democratic countries, terrorism is considered as a crime against humanity. Its common definition underlines that terrorism is a political, ideological and/or religious violence committed by no-state actors. However, there is no criminal law definition of terrorism in the framework of the international community.
In his book Understanding the Law of Terrorism (2007), McCormack presents his position concerning the key points of such phenomenon as terrorism. Chapter 4 of the book is devoted to conspiracies and incitement as the main features in regard to terrorism. Much information for proper understanding of these phenomena is being presented in the chapter in a logical and clear structure.
The author mentions Part I of the Criminal Law Act of 1977 in England, which represents a partial codification of the common law of criminal conspiracy and the basic features that are essential for the formation of the judicial practice. Based on the definition presented by McCormack (2007), conspiracy is a specific agreement between two or more actors that is achieved in order to perform some unlawful actions.
However, such definition has some essential differences when compared to other offences, for example, concerning the determination of the objective of the offence. For example, speaking of an incitement and an attempt, one needs to understand that the objective itself can be already considered being an offence. In such a case, the agreement to commit an offence is a part of this crime.
Another important aspect to be taken into account concerns the categories of conspiracies when the objective would not have a criminal character, which are conspiracies on commitment of tortuous acts; conspiracies to injure; and conspiracies connected with public moral and decency.
The next part of Chapter 4 of the book offers a definition of incitement and discusses its specific aspects. These norms are mostly described in Part I of the 1977 Act (conspiracy) and the 1981 Act (attempts). Due to the regulations of the presented normative documents, incitement is viewed as an offence, according to the common law, to solicit others to commit a crime (McCormack, 2007).
The plan to commit a crime (speaking about terrorism) could exist only as an idea in the mind of a person until others are incited to join it. Thus, in this case, the level of social danger increases dramatically. There is no doubt that there is a high risk of committing terrorist actions in case of incitement.
In addition, there is a need to underline that the term incitement has different meanings and can be applicable to different types of offence.
There are three main types of incitement that can be applicable to the criminal law theory. First, there exists an incitement to an illegal action that takes place. Here, it is possible to speak about genocide, discrimination or violence. Thus, in such a case, incitement becomes a part of illegal action (directly or through conspiracy). Second, there could be an incitement to an illegal action that actually does not take place. This case is
connected with the idea of committing a crime. However, a subject to the main question, what could be considered incitement, is determined by the uncontroversial perspective of free speech. Nevertheless, some speech constituting incitements could be sanctioned even in the United States, where there are strong grounds and specialists that are ready to provide protection in this area. Third, incitement could be used in order to create a certain state of mind in a specific segment of the population. For example, those who can be led by racial hatred, racism or xenophobia may be under the impact of such incitement. Special attention is paid to the fact that the third kind of incitement is the most problematic one from the point of view of freedom of expression.
While analyzing incitement and conspiracies in the framework of terrorism, it becomes obvious that they make this crime even more socially dangerous. Such actions tend to attract the attention of people and unite them under the same motives in order to commit a crime.
Thus, it is one of the most important tasks of the criminal law to determine the tools and mechanisms that can assist in predicting both incitement and conspiracies in order to decrease the level of terrorism.