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Terrorism: Does Conflict Resolution Have a Role?

Should efforts be made to talk to terrorists?  This important question has been largely overlooked by governments, militaries and members of the peace and conflict resolution communities.

The dominant working assumption today is that terrorists are irrational; indeed, that they no longer wish to come to the table to discuss their demands, they "want to destroy the table itself".  Increased security measures, enforcement, and hostile engagement to neutralize them follows.

CIIAN is generating research and dialogue on the following questions:

The definition of terrorist

Insurgents, freedom fighters, rebels, terrorists. What is the internationally adopted working definition of terrorist? What has changed in the definition? What are the implications for current policy and practice? What corrections should be made?

What drives contemporary terrorists?

Are the motives of today's terrorists always negative? Are their actions rational in any sense? Does their cause ever have legitimacy?

Lessons from History

What does past experience with known terrorist groups offer today (e.g. IRA, FLQ, Biner-Minhoff Group)? 

How can terrorists be dealt with more effectively?

Are terrorists beyond engagement through dialogue? Can soft and hard power be combined effectively? Is there a role for conflict resolution practitioners?


Key Background Documents and Related Research

Download Word Document Icon A Summary of Key Articles

Download PDF Document Icon Tactics for Preventing & Countering Violent Extremism

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