What can explain variation in the willingness of countries to alter their domestic anti-terrorism legislation, in order to incorporate international law regarding terrorism into their domestic legal systems? Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the United Nations and the United States pushed for a stronger international legal regime to counter terrorism – a legal regime that would allow states to use domestic courts to prosecute those who support terrorism. Although UN and U.S. anti-terrorism efforts were intended primarily to address the threat from transnational terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, I argue that governments facing ongoing domestic insurgencies were more likely than other governments to alter their domestic anti-terrorism laws following September 11th. For these governments, new anti-terrorism law offered enhanced tools for detaining and prosecuting members of domestic insurgent groups, as well as a means of delegitimizing these groups by identifying them as “terrorists”. In addition, countries with strong political ties to the United States were more likely to revise their domestic anti-terrorism laws in an effort to maintain good relations with the United States. This paper examines these arguments using an original data set comparing domestic anti-terrorism legislation pre- and post-September 11, 2001, for all countries in the world.
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