Who cries fucks who smiles

The “civilizing” approach in solving the global terrorism problem

12/03/2015 13:48

by Grachova Viktoriia


Over the period of more than fifty years, from 1963 till 2014, States have adopted a
range of special universal treaties aimed at countering the threat of international
terrorism1. These treaties mostly rely on criminal justice mechanisms in responding to
terrorism2, focusing primarily on ensuring prosecution and punishment for terrorist
offences. Meanwhile, it is rather evident that such mechanisms do not provide a
comprehensive basis for the solution of the global terrorism problem and should be
supplemented with other measures. In this regard, the Secretary-General of the United
Nations pointed in his report of 14 April 2014 concerning the activities of the UN system
in implementing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, that while
initially many UN Member States “may have focused on their immediate need to combat
and prevent terrorism by building critical capacities in law enforcement, investigation and
prosecution, longer-term success also depends on a more thorough implementation of
pillars I and IV”3 of the Strategy, consisting, respectively, of measures to address
conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism and measures to ensure the protection of
human rights and the rule of law while combating it4. A particular importance of the pillar
I is stressed in this report since the UN Secretary-General recommends that “the
international community make a concerted and focused effort on the preventive aspects of
counter-terrorism”, what “necessarily requires addressing conditions conducive to
terrorism”5. Later on in its resolution 2178 (2014) of 24 September 2014 the UN Security
Council recognized that terrorism would not be defeated by military force, law
enforcement measures and intelligence operations alone and underlined the need to
address the conditions conducive to its spread6. Considering the above-mentioned, it is
important for international law to embrace the challenge of expanding legal regulation of
the global anti-terrorism efforts on the basis of adequate preventive measures.
For a better understanding of what measures are particularly needed it may be useful
to have recourse to the conflict paradigm which allows to view the phenomenon of
terrorism as a manifestation of underlying societal antagonisms. Since reconciling such
antagonisms requires the knowledge of the inner mechanisms of social conflicts and a
special methodology, the tools of conflict studies appear to be valuable in finding a
solution to the global terrorism problem. In this regard, a number of the East European law
scientists point at a conflict-based nature of terrorism and the need to investigate its social
and political genesis. In particular, Liliana Punga mentioned “crisis processes” in society
as conditioning terrorism and the necessity to make a thorough analysis of its “social and
political origins”7. Viktor Petrishchev views conflicts in social, economic, political,
interethnic, interreligious and other spheres as a “[b]asis of origination of terrorist
manifestations” and points that an effective strategy for combating terrorism requires “a
good knowledge of this destructive phenomenon”8. The causes of terrorism as a form of
violence can be analyzed from a micro- and macro-viewpoint: the former focuses on the
characteristics of terrorist perpetrators and potential participators in terrorist activities, the
latter concentrates on the fluctuations of terrorism in function of such societal
developments as “periods of political strife, economic conditions, and cultural-ideological
conflicts”9 etc. Still, in general, terrorism study “has become preoccupied with the
constant debate that revolves around explaining what actually constitutes terrorism and
how to counter it” instead of concentrating on “why it actually occurs”10, what seems to be
a key question in the realm of terrorism prevention. In order to answer this question and to
solve the problems which the answer would inevitably expose, terrorism per se, as Jason
Franks argues, needs to be recognized “as conflict” and the study of it needs “to move
beyond the [S]tate-centric understanding” which concentrates mainly on terrorist violence
“against the established authority or [S]tate”, into a wider and more holistic approach that
will provide access “into the deep socio-political roots of the violence”11. It seems true that
the relocation of terrorism into conflict studies would allow “to open up terrorist conflicts
to the multi-level and interdisciplinary approaches to understanding violence” and would
also “bring with it the tools of conflict resolution”12. For instance, as Jason Franks
believes, the analysis at the level of “non-state actor” provides an understanding based on
social conflict theory and suggests that terrorism is caused “by the perceived function and
utility of terrorism, unsatisfied human needs and relative deprivation”, what implies the
existence of “revolutionary or reactionary terrorism, grievance terrorism and deprivation
terrorism”13; the analysis at other levels implies the existence of “inherent” and
“devious” terrorism, “terrorism management”, “cultural, systemic, situational”, “socioeconomic”,
“ideological, identity, issue, emotional, cognitive” and “group” terrorism14.
Consequently, a starting point in understanding terrorism through conflict paradigm
is the awareness of its conflict-based nature what presupposes the presence of an intrinsic
source of confrontation. In this regard the Ukrainian researcher Volodymyr Antypenko
insists on the “decisive presence” of a “violent conflictness” in terrorism and considers it
as a form of “international social confrontation” based on the “differences of political,
economic, ethnic and territorial and cultural interests” of States and the groups of States,
peoples, nations, social groups and movements, resulting in a “[g]lobal terrorist conflict”
which becomes the means to remove contradictions and is able to bring disastrous effects
if it is not solved15. Both Volodymyr Antypenko and his Ukrainian follower Anna
Antypenko argue that conflict dimension of the crime of terrorism contributes to
examining it “in the frame of reference of international humanitarian law” and suggest a
theory of international legal regulation of “terrorist armed conflicts”16. At the same time,
considering the importance of the “preventive” pillar of anti-terrorism strategy, I believe
that the conflict approach to international terrorism needs to be developed in global antiterrorism
law in order to enrich it with a comprehensive concept focusing on the
eradication of the corresponding societal antagonisms. The purpose of this essay is,
therefore, to study preventive aspect of the conflict paradigm in the context of the global
legal regulation of fight against terrorism.
In general, as Peter Wallensteen points, a conflict “contains a severe disagreement
between at least two sides, where their demands cannot be met by the same resources at
the same time”, what is an “incompatibility” – a key element to the existence of conflict17.
The additional elements are “actors” and “action”, and a complete definition characterizes
conflict as a “social situation in which a minimum of two actors (parties) strive to acquire
at the same moment in time an available set of scarce resources” (the notion of resources
covers “all kinds of positions that are of interest to an actor”)18. Manifest conflict requires
both incompatibility and action, but even if there are no actions although it is possible to
discern incompatibilities, there is a latent conflict19. The Ukrainian researcher Anatoliy
Ishmuratov defines conflict as a “manifestation of the imbalance of interests”, a
“disagreement” between parties, when each of them attempts to promote its position or its
goals solely20. It is also viewed as a “malady of communication”, an “unfair, unjust,
incomprehensible play”21. The dynamics of conflict is represented by “latent”, “manifest”,
“latent aggressive” and “manifest aggressive” phases, and the latter constitutes a
“[b]attle” phase, at which aggressive plans are being realized; it is the phase of
“declaration of war” and its main strategy is “destruction”, “hatred”, “fanaticism”22.
Considering this, terrorism appears to be a manifest aggressive phase of social interaction,
linked to the incompatibility of interests of its parties, the existence of profound
contradictions between them. Conflict resolution, in turn, presents a “situation where the
conflicting parties enter into an agreement that solves their central incompatibilities,
accept each other’s continued existence as parties and cease all violent action against
each other”23. Therefore, solving terrorist conflict requires acceptance, agreement and
non-violence. Since prevention of conflict is a much better way to avoid disturbance of
relationships than “reconciliation after a fight”24, an effective anti-terrorism strategy
should prioritize social prevention of terrorism, seeking to identify and eliminate those
factors of social interaction (political, economic, cultural, religious etc.) which bear the
potential of terrorist conflict. At the same time, by settling existing incompatibilities it is
also possible to neutralize those factors which have already transformed into terrorist
In 1970s the UN General Assembly made an effort to examine the root causes of
terrorism, in particular, this issue was handled by the Ad Hoc Committee on International
Terrorism established by its resolution 3034 (XXVII) of 18 December 197225. Between
1972 and 1991 the General Assembly consistently defended the need “to grasp the context
within which terrorism thrives”26. In the “Working paper on underlying causes of
international terrorism” presented in the report of the Ad Hoc Committee of 17 April 1979
there have been named “colonialism”, “racism, racial discrimination”, “aggression, use of
force contrary to the Charter of the United Nations”, “occupation of foreign territories”,
“interference in the internal affairs of other States”, “policy of expansionism and
hegemony”, “persistence of an unjust and inequitable international economic order”,
“political, social and economic injustices and exploitation”, “poverty, hunger, misery,
frustrations” etc.27, although not all the delegations supported the approach reflected in the
Working paper28. By the 1990s the focus of the UN General Assembly’s anti-terrorism
acts shifted decisively from measures “to prevent” international terrorism to measures “to
eliminate” it29. In 2004 the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change convened
by the UN Secretary-General pointed to the imperative to develop a global strategy of
fighting terrorism that “addresses root causes and strengthens responsible States and the
rule of law and fundamental human rights”30. The first element of such strategy was called
“Dissuasion, working to reverse the causes or facilitators of terrorism, including through
promoting social and political rights, the rule of law and democratic reform; working to
end occupations and address major political grievances; combating organized crime;
reducing poverty and unemployment; and stopping State collapse”31. Still, in the United
Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted by the General Assembly on 8
September 2006 the UN Member States resolved to undertake measures aimed at
addressing “the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism”, including but not limited
to prolonged unresolved conflicts, dehumanization of victims of terrorism, lack of the rule
of law and violations of human rights, ethnic, national and religious discrimination,
political exclusion, socio-economic marginalization and lack of good governance32.
Thereby, the perception of underlying causes of international terrorism within the
UN seems rather blurred. But what is clear is the need to analyze them in a global context,
and certain scientists blame the shortcomings of the global system for creating a breeding
ground for international terrorism. In particular, it is stressed that under globalization the
principles of “equality” and “justice” are violated, the single rules of play in economic,
political, cultural spheres are absent, and “individualism, selfishness, the fight for survival
and the cult of force” have come to the foreground33. In this connection some researchers
regard terrorism as a result of the existing flaws of the global system, as a sign of crisis
within the international community and a specific resistance to globalization34, and
suggest that effective terrorism prevention requires changes within the global system and
international community, “tant sur le plan interne des Etats que sur le plan des relations
interétatiques”35. Consequently, it may be useful to conduct a specific study of the causeand-
effect relationship between globalization and international terrorism as a social
conflict within the framework of the United Nations. On the basis of it the UN General
Assembly could adopt the Agenda for addressing underlying causes of international
terrorism in a globalized world, which would be a valuable supplement to the United
Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. To have an in-depth discussion of the root
causes of terrorist conflict within the UN does not necessarily mean to provide
justification for acts of terrorism, as critics may caution, on the contrary, the abovementioned
general conflict model, consisting of “incompatibility”, “actors” and “action”,
does not involve “violence” as its inalienable part, presupposing that social conflicts can
be manifested and settled through a non-violent action. In addition, it is important that in
the debate over the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism it was
suggested to change its name to “United Nations Convention on the prevention and
suppression of international terrorism”36, however, this requires substantial changes in it,
since initially the draft convention hasn’t focused much on the prevention of international
terrorism in the broad sense37. The adoption of the above-mentioned Agenda could
facilitate the elaboration of the appropriate legal provisions on global prevention of
international terrorism which should be incorporated into the future Convention in order to
reinforce its “preventive” side.
Solving conflicts involves compromising, and terrorist conflict resolution requires a
social compromise, founded on seeking mutual benefit and reaching agreement through
mutual concessions. Such compromise is always value- and morality-based, what is
particularly significant, since violent social strategies usually reveal a deep value and
morality crisis. As social science literature claims, modern civilization has started to forget
such notions as “unique human nature”, “universal values of culture”, and “the signs of the
world spiritual crisis” are showing up, what results in a growing “military, religious,
political confrontation between peoples”38. Within the framework of this discourse
terrorism is regarded as a tool for searching the ways “to renovate human nature in a
violent form”39, what makes value and morality conflict an additional element of
terrorism. In order to cut negative trends which cause and characterize terrorism the global
anti-terrorism efforts need to be guided by the “civilizing” approach. This approach is
founded on the recognition of a conflict-based nature of terrorism and corresponding need
in comprehensive humanistic tools to reconcile the antagonisms inherent in the
international social development. This presents one of the ways to provide solid ground for
coexistence and cooperation within the international community and create a more secure
and democratic world. The aim of this approach is to bring international community to a
thorough analysis of terrorism-generating factors which would allow to identify and to
implement political, economic, social, cultural, ethnic, racial, religious and moral longterm
development strategies contributing to a world-wide rejection of terrorist violence as
a non-civilized tool. In particular, as Philippe Richard underlined, “[u]n progrès dans la
pratique générale des Etats en matière de lutte contre le terrorisme ne pourra être obtenu
que lorsque [...] le recours au terrorisme sera considéré comme illégal par tous les Etats”40,
but shaping the universal rejection of terrorist violence goes beyond recognizing it as an
illegal practice.
Notably, it is necessary to strengthen the promotion of the concepts of justice and
equality in international relations, first of all, in international economic relations. Needless
to say, the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States, the Declaration on the
Establishment of a New International Economic Order and the Programme of Action on
the Establishment of a New International Economic Order adopted in 1974 and aimed at
providing just and equitable basis for the international economic development41 haven’t
been successfully implemented. Such fundamental principles of those documents as
mutual and equitable benefit, no attempt to seek hegemony and spheres on influence,
promotion of international social justice etc.42 are not fully working, deep income
inequalities within countries and a wide economic gap between developing and developed
ones are persisting etc. In its World Economic and Social Survey 2010 the Department of
Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat recognized that “the pattern
of uneven development brought about by globalization so far has been sustainable neither
economically nor environmentally, nor has it been feasible politically” and offered ideas
on how the international community could achieve “a more balanced and sustainable
globalization and a safer, more prosperous and more just world for all”43. In particular, the
Department suggested means of “retooling the existing aid, trade and financial
architectures” and pointed to the need “to strengthen the global coordination of economic
decision-making”44, which requires appropriate legal regulation and implementation.
An important resource which can be an antidote to political or economic injustices
is dialogue – a concept which denotes the communicative interaction between some
interlocutors where no party can claim to have the first or the last word45. In the political
context, as Fred R. Dallmayr points, this translates into a policy of multilateralism or
multilateral cooperation, which is the opposite of any absolutism or empire, and the
rejection of absolutism or empire constitutes “a precondition of just peace”46. One of the
key elements in solving terrorist conflict is improving global communicative interaction
by means of dialogue among civilizations. This kind of dialogue is aimed, inter alia, at
attaining the objective of identifying and promoting “common ground among civilizations
in order to address common challenges threatening shared values, universal human rights
and achievements of human society in various fields”47. Accordingly, as Fabio Petito
claims, the international situation imposes on us a “moral obligation to pursue a politics of
inter-civilizational understanding”, and engagement into an intercultural dialogue is
“crucial for peace”, as it cannot be ignored that since September 11, in the very year
designated by the United Nations as the “Year of Dialogue of Civilizations”48, global
political violence and conflicts have reached a critical new level49. While examining the
global political discourse of dialogue of civilizations Fabio Petito even speaks of an
“alternative model of world order”, having “multipolarity as its spatial orientation and a
new cross-cultural jus gentium as its normative order”, which is a “thick” dialogically
constituted normative order based on a “genuine” and “enriched” universality50. Still, in
order to ensure that the global discourse of dialogue of civilizations moves beyond general
and rhetorical statements and assumes a clearer and concrete political agenda51 the concept
of such dialogue should be deeply entrenched and developed in international law,
including its peremptory rules.
The concept of inter-civilizational dialogue reflects the core values and principles of
the global ethic, such as humanity, reciprocity, trust, liberty, justice, rationality, sympathy,
legality, civility, rights and responsibility52, essential in promoting rejection of terrorist
violence in the world. In particular, the real prevention, as Ralph E. Stephens argues,
“begins with inculcating values and desires in the population for an open and safe society
in which individuals would consider the use of terror for any reason to be unethical and
thus unacceptable, for themselves as well as for everyone else”53. The culture of nonviolence
based on the global ethic seems to be a cornerstone in the global terrorism
prevention and it implies the need to promote the culture of peace in whole. The UN
General Assembly has adopted a number of important acts on this subject such as
Declaration on the Preparation of Societies for Life in Peace of 15 December 197854,
Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace of 13 September 199955,
Resolution 68/125 of 18 December 2013 “Follow-Up to the Declaration and Programme
of Action on a Culture of Peace”56 etc. The UN General Assembly regards the culture of
peace as a set of values, attitudes, traditions and modes of behaviour and ways of life
based on respect for life, ending of violence and promotion and practice of non-violence;
respect for the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of
States and non-intervention; commitment to peaceful settlement of conflicts; respect for
and promotion of the right to development; adherence to the principles of freedom, justice,
democracy, tolerance, solidarity, cooperation, pluralism, cultural diversity, dialogue and
understanding at all levels of society and among nations etc.57. The decades of evergrowing
violence which, ironically, followed the adoption of the Charter of the United
Nations as the world’s blueprint for maintaining peace and security, prompt that
international law must provide valid means to defend and promote its fundamentals,
notably, the ideal of international peace, unless we accept that modern international order
is to be crushed down by an eruption of elemental violence, like ancient Pompeii has been
destroyed by Vesuvius.
Another component of terrorism prevention is tolerance, recognized as a “necessity
for peace and for the economic and social advancement of all peoples”58. Its meaning,
defined in the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance adopted by the General Conference
of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 1995, includes
respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of the world’s cultures, the forms
of expression and ways of being human; recognition of the universal human rights and
fundamental freedoms of others; accepting the fact that human beings have the right to live
in peace and to be as they are59. Tolerance is not concession, condescension or indulgence;
instead, it conveys the idea that one is free to adhere to one's own convictions and accepts
that others adhere to theirs, and that one's views are not to be imposed on others60. It is
crucial that tolerance contributes to the “replacement of the culture of war by a culture of
peace” and it is to be exercised by “individuals, groups and States”61. Tolerance in the
sphere of ethnic, racial, cultural, religious and other “sensitive” social relations is able to
eliminate risks of discrimination and marginalization, stimulate sound social interaction
and create opportunities for conflict prevention and conflict resolution on the basis of
social compromise.
Considering the above-mentioned, it is logical that the UN General Assembly
emphasizes in its Resolution 68/276 of 13 June 2014 that tolerance, dialogue among
civilizations, the enhancement of interfaith and intercultural understanding and respect
among peoples, including at the national, regional and global levels, are among the most
important elements in combating terrorism62. Yet, terrorism is also may be linked to the
“lack of human security among an increasing number of people in the world”, what makes
it necessary to put “individuals and their wellbeing into the centre of our concern”
because, as Wolfgang Benedec points, "people who enjoy decent living conditions and
democratic rule are less likely to generate terrorists or sympathise with them”63. The
concept of human security dares to make an individual a major element of the security
paradigm what challenges the traditional security model based on the State’s coercive
competence, since in the modern world “[p]ower cannot maintain itself solely through
power, especially through the power of the armed force”64. The UN General Assembly
defined human security as an “approach to assist Member States in identifying and
addressing widespread and cross-cutting challenges to the survival, livelihood and dignity
of their people”, indicating that this notion includes the right of people “to live in freedom
and dignity, free from poverty and despair” and calls for “people-centred, comprehensive,
context-specific and prevention-oriented responses that strengthen the protection and
empowerment of all people and all communities”65. Governments retain the primary role
and responsibility for ensuring the survival, livelihood and dignity of their citizens, while
the role of the international community is to complement and provide the necessary
support to them66. Human security requires “greater collaboration and partnership among
Governments, international and regional organizations and civil society”67, which is
particularly important in the context of the global anti-terrorism efforts. At the same time,
I strongly believe that the anthropocentrism of the modern security paradigm must be
complemented with the principle of high moral and civic responsibility of an individual,
on the basis of which each of us should consciously act as a member of global community.
This involves willingness to adjust one’s life, one’s rights and needs to the needs and
interests of the whole human civilization, based on the imperatives of its survival and
The main conclusion following from this essay is that universal strengthening and
development of the concepts of justice and equality, dialogue among civilizations, culture
of peace, social tolerance and human security in international law seems to be a promising
tool for global social prevention of terrorism and its elimination. This brings with it hope
that global terrorist conflict could be finally solved by means of civilizing. The nature of
the above-mentioned concepts unequivocally suggests that the success of this task
primarily depends on the viability of the United Nations Charter values, which must be a
critical foundation for building secure, democratic and prosperous world. This task, in
particular, imposes a big challenge on the drafters of the comprehensive convention on
international terrorism if they aspire to a truly “comprehensive” outreach of the future
Convention. It is worth noting, that global terrorism not only poses a threat to human
civilization, as it is broadly acknowledged, but also, ironically, puts its ability to function
as “humanistic” and “civilized” to the test. International law should actively explore
preventive aspect of the conflictological paradigm in order to provide an honorable
solution to the global terrorism problem.


published on https://www.diritto.it/docs/36906-the-civilizing-approach-in-solving-the-global-terrorism-problem?ref_id=12231&ref_key=9c76dbad9fd238345bb0b32d9e1542cb

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