Blacklists and the criminalisation of conflict resolution

This project investigates the impacts of terrorist designation upon conflict resolution processes – specifically, seeking to understand the operation and effect of laws that designate non-state actors engaged in armed conflict as ‘terrorist’.

 

This project investigates the impacts of terrorist designation upon conflict resolution processes – specifically, seeking to understand the operation and effect of laws that designate non-state actors engaged in armed conflict as ‘terrorist’. The project will run from May 2012 to October 2013.

 

The focus is on understanding the impacts of proscription and designation for those who have an interest in resolving armed conflicts including NGOs engaged in peace building, civil society actors, armed groups and governments.

 

The research is a partnership between the  International State Crime Initiative and the Transnational Institute, and is funded by the Berghof Foundation for Conflict Research.

 

Case studies & research

This project will examine the impact of terrorist proscription and listing on efforts to resolve three ongoing armed conflicts:

(i) The conflict between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)
(ii) The conflict between the Somalian Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Al-Shabaab
(iii) The conflict between Israel and Hamas

The research findings will be published in a public report and policy document aimed to assisting actors who are engaging directly or indirectly with listed groups.  


Background to the Project:

The policy of proscription (that is, the act of designating a group or individual as ‘terrorist’) and the practice of targeted sanctions have become increasingly widespread techniques for managing perceived security threats. Such measures aim to disrupt groups designated terrorist by criminalising their members, cutting off their access to funds and undermining their support. Yet in practice, the policy of terrorist listing has been widely criticised by courts (both within and beyond the EU) for persistently violating fundamental rights and has had broad and significant political impacts.

One of the least acknowledged, yet most important, of the adverse effects of listing has been the impact upon conflict resolution and peace processes with non-state actors involved in armed conflicts. Proscription policies have functioned to restrict and/or criminalise both state and third party engagement with listed individuals and entities involved in armed conflicts. Conflict transformation however, is contingent on the participation of non-state actors in political processes. The ‘terrorist lists’ have played a key role in undermining peace efforts in a number of conflicts by antagonising negotiating parties and providing states with renewed legitimacy for the use of force against their opponents

Aims of project:
The questions we seek to address include:

• What are the legal and political implications of the lists for third-party engagement with listed entities and individuals?
• In what ways do the lists operate to strengthen, undermine or otherwise transform the nature of existing armed conflicts?
• Are the lists actually effective in achieving their self-stated aims?
• What are the human rights and broader political impacts of the listing regimes and how might these adverse impacts be most effectively addressed?
• How do the lists function as a pre-emptive security technique and what are the core problems of such practices from a human rights perspective?
• What opportunities exist for reforming the legal framework underpinning the proscription and targeted sanctions regimes – through policy change, strategic litigation or other means?


Methodology:
Qualitative research in the form of semi-structured interviews with NGOs, civil society actors and policy-makers working on conflict-resolution or counter-terrorism in respect to one or more of the above conflicts. Please contact the research team if you would like to find out more about the project and how to participate.

Research Team:
Dr Vicki Sentas, International State Crime Initiative & School of Law, University of New South Wales
Gavin Sullivan, University of Amsterdam
Dr Ben Hayes, Transnational Institute & Statewatch
Dr Louise Boon-Kuo, School of law, University of Sydney

Contact: terrorlists@tni.org

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