Terrorism has destabilized governments; jeopardized international peace and security; threatened social and economic development; caused mass displacement; violated human rights; and eroded principles of democracy and good governance. Regrettably, the same can be said of some counterterrorism measures of the last twenty years. The seemingly endless war against an ever present ‘existential threat’ of ‘new terrorism’ has undone significant progress made in maintaining peace and security since establishment of the United Nations. My primary research question accordingly involves asking whether counterterrorism measures effectively embody the very phenomena they attempt to constrain if such measures fail to fulfil the objective and purpose for which they were designed. In other words, whether, counterterrorism measures can be construed as a distinct form of state terrorism at the global level if they undermine the preservation of free, plural and democratic societies.
Using statutory and comparative analyses to examine substantial changes in international law on the one hand, along with legal hermeneutics and methodologies in critical terrorism studies to expose the underlying objective, aim and spirit of laws ordering the international realm, on the other, this doctoral dissertation makes at least two important contributions. First, the reconceptualization of counterterrorism measures as terrorism challenges the moral and legal foundations upon which the most tyrannical and pervasive initiatives rest. This provides the crucial conceptual clarity needed to either break away from such measures or devise mechanisms to iterate, invigorate and/or expand the binding-ness and scope of protection of preemptory norms of international law. Second, this project intends to provide tailored public security law reform recommendations reflecting related changes in international law norms. In this regard, the objective and purpose of the UN Counter Terrorism Strategy, particularly its Pillar II (Measures to Address Conditions Conducive to the Spread of Terrorism) and the purpose and principles of the United Nations pursuant to the UN Charter, will serve as the principal regulatory framework.
Finally, by clarifying undertheorized aspects of the challenges posed by the internationalization of counterterrorism measures on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, this project sits at the intersection of the first and third axes of the Department’s research agenda, specifically: ‘Theoretical Foundations and Doctrinal Structures’ and ‘Fundamental Rights, Rule of Law, Democracy’.
Research outcome: doctoral dissertation at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law (2020–22).