The Need for a Legitimacy Driven Response to Counter-Terrorism

“The Need for a Legitimacy Driven Response to Counter-terrorism” is a research paper drafted by Research Associate, Zainab Mustafa in April, 2017. The paper highlights that terrorism is a menace that has the ability to undermine the very foundations of a democratic order, necessitating swift and decisive Governmental responses to protect their citizens. Counter-terrorism measures by the State on the other hand, also have the potential to threaten democracy by limiting civil liberties and human rights and as a result, have the tendency to alienate the population. While devising counter-terrorism responses, it is crucial for policymakers to be cognizant of the need for strengthening public opinion, support and trust for State institutions. This is the essence of the legitimacy driven approach to counter-terrorism and is key for success against terrorism in the long run. [1]

The research paper discusses that the bedrock of the legitimacy based approach to counter-terrorism is the development of a strong relationship with the public based on trust. Weak relations between the Government and the population can greatly impact the State’s progress by hampering intelligence gathering and undermining the command and coordination counter-terrorism structure. Favorable public opinion and trust in State institutions provides State authorities with a margin of error that provides critical time in this struggle against terrorism.[2] Thus, States should aim to acquire public support as a top priority. The Government should be willing to make concessions and provide incentives. Otherwise counter-terrorism will only rely on the tactical skills of the forces with limited intelligence. Furthermore, costly and long-term harsh measures will continue to be implemented which will lead to the alienation of the both the domestic public and the international community.[3]

[1] Bruce Hoffman and Jennifer Morrison, A Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Insurgency (RAND) v

[2] Ibid 75

[3] Bruce Hoffman and Jennifer Morrison, A Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Insurgency (RAND)  76


Zainab Mustafa

Edited by Oves Anwar

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