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Briefing Paper - State Sponsored Terrorism

Question: The Question of State Sponsored Terrorism
Chair: Yvonne Corcoran
Committee: WCDMUN2011 - Security Council
Contact: sc@wcdmun.com

Hello, delegates, my name is Yvonne Corcoran and I am Secretary General of WCDMUN2011, and I will be chairing on this year’s Security Council. State sponsored terrorism is a very detailed and complicated topic. Its solution is crucial but it is a very difficult issue to resolve.

Although a solid definition of terrorism is still an issue of debate, the United States has defined terrorism as;

"...activities that involve violent, or life-threatening acts, that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State and, appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and <if domestic>...(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States,<if international>...(C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States..." (Federal Criminal Code; Section 2331 of Chapter 113b).

An accurate definition and particular examples of state sponsored terrorism are causes of major heated political debates. A main reason for this is the fact that different countries have different perceptions of what actions constitute as terrorism, simply because of the diversity of cultures.

However, state sponsored terrorism is not to be confused with state terror, in which a state uses terror to repress its own population, or state involvement in terror, which are operations in which government personnel use terror tactics to carry out operations. Rather, state sponsorship of terrorism refers to the supply of training, supplies and other forms of support by governments to non-state terrorist organisations. The most notable type of support that these terrorist groups receive is the supply of a “safe haven” from the government. Another major factor which enables states to facilitate terrorism is the provision of false documentation; this includes not only personal identification, but also for weapon purchases and numerous other such transactions. Monetary aid is often also provided. Access to vital training facilities and expertise is included in the many other forms of state sponsored terrorism. Diplomatic services and protections are also extended to members of these terrorist groups, making the entire situation infinitely more complicated.


Iran has repeatedly been described as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Its support for terrorist groups is extremely active, most notably of the Lebanese group Hezbollah. This particular sponsorship displays one conventional reason why states sponsor terrorism; to ultimately influence politics elsewhere. This group is also sponsored by the Syrian government. Major training institutions in the Bek’aa Valley are enabled by Syrian protection and resources. Of course, there are numerous other such examples which exist in our world today. The main difficulty in resolving the issue is to do so without infringing on national sovereignty. So what is to be done?


Some previous UN action;

General Assembly passed Resolution 51/120 in 1998, establishing the Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism. Its specific mandate is to develop and elaborate on comprehensive international conventions on measures to eliminate terrorism.

Security Council established the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) through S/RES/1373 as a more focused effort to tackle and prevent attacks. This resolution also criminalised any and all financial allocations from governments which supported terrorist acts.

S/RES/1535 supports organisations working at all levels to in combating terrorism and secures international borders to prevent terrorist migration.


A few main questions to consider;

How can we ensure the transparency and co-operation needed between the United Nations and the nations of concern?

How can we make absolutely sure of states definite involvement in terrorism? Once it is confirmed, what do we do about it?

Can we prevent the sale of arms to such terrorist groups, even partially? How?

As well as the topic as a whole, you must consider your country’s position. Has your country been involved in state sponsored terrorism previously? When and to what extent? What has been done to combat it? Has your country been a victim of state sponsored terrorism? From whom? What action, if any, has your country taken on the issue? What do you feel needs to be done to deal with this?


And now the real research is up to you.  Don’t forget to have a brief policy statement prepared for conference; in Security Council, you'll need to have an individual statement prepared for each topic outlining your country’s viewpoint (etc.). Feel free to contact me with any queries at sc@wcdmun.com and to email me any resolutions that you may have, and I shall see you on March 25th. Good luck!


Useful links;









http://www.newint.org/ - very useful for relevant news.

It is wise to keep up to date with what is happening in the world, as new developments occur every day – check BBC, CNN etc.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/country_profiles/default.stm - Basic country profiles.