PROFILE: Legal’s UK delegate Manuela Kurkaa

The Legal committee's UK delegate Manuela Kurkaa


The United Kingdom is leading the legal discussion on terrorism, and we’re undoubtedly in good hands. The Guardian spoke to UK delegate Manuela Kurkaa, who in between committee sessions was coordinating a working paper with her fellow European delegates.


“One of the greatest challenges we’re facing is focusing on the legal aspect of terrorism, and not the policy aspect.  If we achieve that, I think we will have a very interesting resolution in the end,” says the UK delegate.


Kurkaa knows what she’s talking about. An experienced delegate, she comes from an international affairs and political science background. She listens carefully and pays detailed attention to her surroundings. When talked to, Kurkaa looks confidently into the eyes of others.


If the eyes are indeed the window to the soul, then the United Kingdom is blessed with a strong and caring representative. A true Britton leader.


According to Kurkaa, the Legal committee is steadily heading towards defining terrorism in an appropriate and considerate way.


“We’re discussing how to better approach the subject, what a terrorist is and what rights do they have, as well as the obligations states have when dealing with terrorists.”


When asked about improvements, the UK delegate said committee members need better coordination amongst themselves.


“We have to work together through the United Nations and Interpol in order to better identify terrorist threats and deal with them accordingly,” Kurkaa says.


The problem with the word ‘terrorism’, of course, is that it often invokes sensationalism and fear mongering, which can then lead to justifying further legislation on surveillance and intelligence gathering, as seen previously in many of our ally Western countries, such as the US.


Kurkaa, however, assured that this is not the case in the Legal committee.


“We believe that surveillance and information gathering are a part of the national jurisdictions of the states and when a terrorist crime is committed within a state, and it doesn’t affect any other state, then it’s up to that specific state to deal with the problem. If it becomes an international problem, then other states will intervene.”


Ultimately, the Legal committee’s UK wants a broad definition of terrorism that can hold its ground over the passage of time. She mentions cyber-terrorism as the most rapidly emerging form of terrorism.


Kurkaa says she’s honoured to represent the United Kingdom, and praised her partner for her hard work.


The UK’s delegate is highly supportive of such multilateral negotiations and conferences, emphasizing that they are where she learns the most.


“I’ve learned more from being a delegate than I have in many of my classes. You learn more about leadership style, public speaking, policies that work and don’t work” Kurkaa says.


“You also learn a great deal about negotiation, and the skills acquired are highly applicable to the real world.”


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