On Friday 20 November, The Hague Institute hosted a panel discussion on the Global Terrorism Index 2015. The Index 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. After welcoming remarks by Richard Ponzio, Head of the Global Governance Program at The Hague Institute, key findings of the Index were presented by Steve Killelea, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Institute for Economics & Peace.
The presentation began with the finding that the number of deaths attributed to terrorism in 2014 were nine times higher than in 2000; this year’s report further showed an 80% increase in terrorist-related fatalities between 2013 and 2014. While the Index illustrates a dramatic increase, only 0,5% of terrorism-related deaths since 2000 occurred in the West (excluding the large September 11th terrorist attacks). Instead, the vast majority of terrorist attacks occurred in states committing political violence or experiencing violent conflict. The presentation discussed related issues, such as foreign fighters, Boko Haram having caused the highest number of terrorist-related fatalities by a single organization in 2014, and the diverse income sources of the Islamic State.
During the panel discussion to follow, Mark Singleton, Director of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, commended the Global Terrorism Index for putting complex issues on terrorism into clearer perspective. He drew particular attention to the finding that most terrorist attacks in the West are executed by lone wolfs and are politically motivated; he further concurred that there is no single profile that encompasses foreign fighters. He ultimately concluded that many counter-terrorism responses are inappropriate, due to a lack of research about terrorism and its symptoms.
Lia van Broekhoven, Executive Director of Human Security Collective, commented on the causes of and responses to terrorism. Referring to the findings of the Global Terrorism Index that most terrorist attacks occur in states experiencing political violence and exclusion, she noted that measures against terrorism must address both push and pull factors, that is confront disrespect for human rights and social injustice. Furthermore, she argued that ruling out interaction with terrorists groups hinders reconciliation and the negotiation of peace. She also reiterated the importance of building resilient communities and the role of civil society.
Dr. Eamon Aloyo, Senior Researcher in the Conflict Prevention program at The Hague Institute, addressed how conflict prevention relates to countering terrorism. In light of the findings of the Index that 88% of terrorist attacks occur in states experiencing violent conflict, Dr. Aloyo posited that responses to terrorism should include preventing and ending violent conflict. He continued by highlighting the role of the Responsibility to Protect in response to terrorism, noting an overlap between some types of mass-atrocities and some types of terrorism, as well as the importance of rebuilding in post-conflict situations.
The panel discussion was followed by a questions and answers session.
The presentation on the Global Terrorism Index 2015 and the subsequent discussion highlighted the different aspects, modalities and causes of terrorism, as well as responses to terrorism. The Hague Institute will continue to contribute to debate and discussion of this phenomenon through its Conflict Prevention, Rule of Law, and Global Governance programs.
Listen to the discussion here: