Abstract: Over the past decade, policy makers have come to believe that transnational terrorism and rule of law are intimately linked. On the one hand, terrorism thrives in countries with weak rule of law. On the other hand, promoting and strengthening rule of law is an important instrument to counter transnational terrorism. As a result, significant resources have been and continue to be allocated to rule of law promotion in various places associated with transnational terrorism. The paper first examines the ‘safe haven’-thesis and then moves on to the ‘root cause’-thesis. The conclusion is that there is support for the safe haven-thesis, but with some serious caveats, while evidence for the root cause thesis is almost lacking altogether. The paper ends with some suggestions on how to explain the discrepancy between policy wisdom and academic research. Before all that, however, the paper demonstrates that the policy wisdom really exists and has become widespread and pervasive. Also, it pays attention to conceptual and methodological issues involved in discussing the relation between weak rule of law and terrorism.
Research colloquium, organised by the Paul Scholten Centre. This colloquium is open to all, no registration required.