People research news Return to previous page
Article Released Thu-11th-August-2005 13:42 GMT
Contact: Timo Kivimäki Institution: NIAS -- Nordic Institute of Asian Studies
 Development Cooperation as an Instrument in the Prevention of Terrorism. Timo Kivimäki (ed.). Danish Foreign Ministry, Copenhagen. 2003

The objective of the book is to look into the causal relationships between poverty and lack of democracy on the one hand, and terrorism on the other.

Development cooperation may contribute to prevent violent fundamentalism and terrorism. It can also reduce the risk that counter-terrorism causes violence in the developing world. When it is used as one of the instruments available to deal with the causes of terrorism, development cooperation can be integrated into a more comprehensive strategy of counter-terrorism.
It is possible to integrate the fight against terrorism as an objective or a cross cutting issue in development assistance, but there are risks associated with such a strategy.
The foreign policy and development assistance strategies of Denmark now have a special focus on linking development cooperation with conflict prevention and the fight against terrorism.
Many of the existing interventions of Danish development cooperation already contribute to the reduction of the causes of terrorist violence, and in many cases existing approaches could be modified to optimise the strategy against terrorism and extreme fundamentalism. However, there are also new opportunities for development interventions that could be designed specifically to fight violence and prevent terrorism. New interventions in relation to Arab countries and Muslim communities, institutions, and organizations are already under way.

CAUSES OF EXTREME FUNDAMENTALISM AND TERRORISM
There is as structural setting that can expose developing countries to terrorism. The characteristics are:
• Considerable groups in developing countries and some of the more developed Arab countries are deprived economically, socially and politically and terrorists often perceive them as their ‘constituencies’.
• Interestingly, in an international comparative perspective, Islamic people are economically deprived while Islamic terrorists and their supporters are, on average, better off than their compatriots.
• Certain states lack ability or willingness to control the opportunities that terrorists or violent groups may exploit for political purposes.
• There is a lack of opportunities for non-violent political participation and/or protest.
• The ‘underdog’ has no opportunities to challenge the opponent(s) by using conventional military means.

The process of development of terrorist violence has five steps that can be addressed by the donor community. These steps are links in a causal chain of terrorism:
• Link 1: Emergence of a contradiction that is conducive to stimulate perceptions of unfairness and/or injustice. Often, objective grievances cause the antagonism between the Western countries and the ‘terrorist constituencies’ to arise.
• Link 2: Development of a conviction that the dispute cannot be solved peacefully or by using conventional means of combat. For example, according to an American study based on an extensive opinion poll, more than two thirds of Palestinians feel that terrorist means serve the Palestinian political purposes better than negotiations, diplomacy or politics.
• Link 3: Development of a political culture that is tolerant towards terror and normalization of fundamentalist violence. Unlike what is often reported in the Western media, terrorist strategies are not marginalized in most of the areas where terrorism develops. The ‘terrorist constituencies’ do not necessarily see terrorist strategies as being fundamentally different from those of the United States or Israel. In fact, an extensive opinion poll undertaken in most of the predominantly Muslim countries shows that only a minority of people feel that terrorism – suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets – is never justified.
• Link 4: Wherever there is a culture of tolerance towards terrorism, there is a risk that extremist groups will start organizing for terrorism. This is likely to take place where there are grievances and indigenous support for radicalism. On the other hand, international terrorist organizations, most notably Al Qaeda, tend to build their infrastructure (training camps, head quarters etc.) where the level of governance is low (i.e. in failed states) or where they have sympathetic host countries (i.e. in rogue states).
• Link 5: Finally, there is a development of a “conflict trap” where attacks of revenge fuel further strikes, i.e. the logic of conflict itself feeds the process of escalation.

Associated links

Journal information

Publications of the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Funding information

Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Keywords associated to this article: Terrorism, poverty, democracy
Create Account...