Bad News and Less Bad News in the Global Terrorism Index 2016

On Thursday 17 November, The Hague Institute partnered with the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) to launch and present the findings from the Global Terrorism Index 2016. The annual Index, published by IEP, is the world’s leading metric for policymakers in their efforts to track and understand how to measure the impacts and underlying drivers of terrorism. The Index scores 163 countries over the past 16 years, aggregating the number of terrorist incidents, number of fatalities, injuries and the amount of property damage and then weighting the results over five years with the highest weighting being the most recent year.

In his welcoming remarks, Dr. David Connolly, Head of Research at The Hague Institute, noted the continued increase of terrorism globally. The transnational spread of terrorist incidents, noticeably in Western Europe, illustrate the pressing challenges posed by terrorism to societies across the globe. Aside from the societal impact of terrorism, Dr. Connolly noted, terrorism also costs billions to world economies.

The Hague as a city is actively engaged with addressing the threat of terrorism, Ingrid van Engelshoven, Deputy Mayor of The Hague, explained. The Hague has seen instances of radicalization and is currently facing the challenges posed by fighters returning from Syria. In order to facilitate rehabilitation and reintegration of these fighters, and to head off radicalization, we need to understand fundamentally the impacts and underlying motivators of terrorism. To this end, van Engelshoven noted, The Hague will set up the Humanity Hub, where the growing need for cooperation will be put into effect to tackle global challenges.

Presenting the Index, Daniel Hyslop, Research Director at IEP, explained the motivation behind indexing terrorism. The world has become a less peaceful place, in no small part due to increased terrorism – the fastest growing type of violence. The findings of the Index are complex: the overall number of terrorism-related deaths from terrorism are down, even though 2015 is still the second deadliest year on record, and there has been an intensification of terrorism where it occurred. Additionally, OECD countries have witnessed a 650% increase in terrorism.

As with previous editions of the Index, it is important to note that nearly 72% of deaths from terrorism occur in 5 countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria. Similarly, four terrorist groups caused approximately 74% of total deaths from terrorist acts. These groups are Boko Haram, ISIL, the Taliban, and al-Shabaab. While both ISIL and Boko Haram have been hollowed out by regional and international coalitions, they have managed to shift their focus transnationally. Where ISIL has increasingly targeted Western Europe, Turkey and Libya, along with many other countries, Boko Haram has spread its violence into neighboring countries like Chad and Niger.

The Index presents key insights into drivers of terrorism. The majority – over 90% – of attacks occur in countries affected by conflict and political violence. In OECD countries, most attacks are perpetrated by lone wolf terrorists or a small number of individuals. Influencing factors are socio-economic in nature, such as opportunities provided for youth, belief in the electoral system, criminality and access to weapons. In OECD and non-OECD countries alike, acceptance of the rights of others, relations with neighbors and the likelihood of political terror are influencing factors in terrorism.

The findings of the GTI, as well as the drivers of terrorism the report describes, were discussed by a panel consisting of Daniel Hyslop; Dr. Alastair Reed, Acting Director of The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) in The Hague; and Ms. Amy Cunningham, Senior Advisor at the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF). The discussion was moderated by Dr. David Connolly.

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