Toward a Theory of Terrorism: Human Security as a Determinant of Terrorism

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [University of Guelph]On: 09 November 2014, At: 05:21Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Studies in Conflict &amp; TerrorismPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:</p><p>Toward a Theory of Terrorism: HumanSecurity as a Determinant of TerrorismRhonda Callaway a &amp; Julie Harrelson-Stephens ba Department of Political Science , Sam Houston State University ,Huntsville, Texas, USAb Department of Political Science, Geography, and PublicAdministration , Stephen F. Austin State University , Nacogdoches,Texas, USAPublished online: 23 Nov 2006.</p><p>To cite this article: Rhonda Callaway &amp; Julie Harrelson-Stephens (2006) Toward a Theory ofTerrorism: Human Security as a Determinant of Terrorism, Studies in Conflict &amp; Terrorism, 29:7,679-702, DOI: 10.1080/10576100600701974</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. 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Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p></p></li><li><p>Studies in Conflict &amp; Terrorism, 29:679702, 2006Copyright Taylor &amp; Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1057-610X print / 1521-0731 onlineDOI: 10.1080/10576100600701974</p><p>Toward a Theory of Terrorism:Human Security as a Determinant of Terrorism</p><p>RHONDA CALLAWAY</p><p>Department of Political ScienceSam Houston State UniversityHuntsville, Texas, USA</p><p>JULIE HARRELSON-STEPHENS</p><p>Department of Political Science, Geography, and Public AdministrationStephen F. Austin State UniversityNacogdoches, Texas, USA</p><p>In this article, we investigate the relationship between human rights conditions andterrorist activity. We begin by outlining a theory for the genesis and growth of terrorismand argue that states which deny subsistence rights along with civil and political rightscreate an environment that is conducive to the development of terrorism. However, weconclude that it is the denial of security rights that is a necessary condition for thecreation and growth of terrorism. We then examine the causes of terrorism in NorthernIreland in light of this theory. Specifically, we explore the extent to which human rightsabuses contributed to the formation and growth of terrorists within Northern Ireland.We find that limits on the civil and political rights of the Catholic minority in NorthernIreland played a significant role in the genesis of terrorism. More importantly, Britishabuses of security rights increased the number of Irish citizens who supported andparticipated in terrorist activity.</p><p>The attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 11 September 2001 broughtincreased world attention to the problem of terrorism. Unfortunately, acts of both domesticand international terrorism are not new as evidenced by groups such as the BasqueFatherland and Liberty (ETA) organization, Hezballah, the Provisional Irish RepublicanArmy, and more recently, Al Qaeda. Traditionally, research into terrorist activity has focusedon the role of the individual, primarily concentrating on providing typologies of terroristsand terrorism (Rubenstein 1974; Schultz 1990; Sederberg 1994; Laqueur 1999; 2001). Thisarticle seeks to move beyond classification and develop a theoretical framework to explainthe genesis of terrorism. It develops a model contending that poor political rights and poorhuman rights conditions are fundamental elements in the origins of terrorism.</p><p>We contend that many of the previously identified causes of terrorism can be viewedin terms of human rights.1 In addressing the topic of rights, the article addresses three specifichuman rights categories: political rights, personal security rights, and basic human needs. In</p><p>Received 24 February 2005; accepted 3 December 2005.Address correspondence to Rhonda Callaway, Dept. of Political Science, Box 2149, Huntsville,</p><p>TX, 7734 2149, USA. E-mail:</p><p>679</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f G</p><p>uelp</p><p>h] a</p><p>t 05:</p><p>21 0</p><p>9 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>680 R. Callaway and J. Harrelson-Stephens</p><p>addition, external factors may serve as a stimulant to terrorist activity. For example, colonialhistories, relationship with Diaspora, and cooperation among other terrorists groups may allcombine to contribute to the success and appeal of the domestic terrorist organization. Thecase of Northern Ireland and the IRA is examined to illustrate the model. It is found thatthe troubles of Northern Ireland are rooted in the human condition. That is, the terroristactivity that ravaged the region can be attributed to the violation of human rights.</p><p>We seek to improve on previous research in two important ways. We advance atheoretical framework for understanding and explaining the development of terrorism withina state. We contend that the current study of terrorism, which focuses on individual cases atthe exclusion of any systematic exploration of the subject, is unnecessarily underdeveloped.Moreover, the theoretical framework advanced in this article will serve as a precursor toempirical investigations of the causes of terrorism. It is only by developing a generalizabletheory of terrorism that its study will advance beyond mere description and classification.Second, the article examines the intersection between two disparate areas of research:human rights, or more broadly human security and terrorism. It is our contention that thestudy of terrorism is intrinsically linked to threats to human security. When looking at thegenesis of terrorism around the world it always occurs in conjunction with the denial ofbasic human rights. Accordingly, in the war on terrorism any idea of security can only berealized if human security is explicitly included. This article contends that the basis forterrorism is found in deprivation of political, subsistence, and security rights, and thereforeany policy designed to decrease terrorism necessarily implies addressing these rights.</p><p>The rest of the article is presented in four parts. The first section examines the difficultyin defining terrorism and the resulting lack of consensus within the study of terrorism. Thesecond section advances the theoretical framework on the relationship between humanrights violations and terrorism. The section begins by discussing human rights conditionswithin the state and its influence on the formation of terrorist activity. It then examines theinfluence of external factors on the formation of terrorist activity. This section is concludedwith a model of human rights and terrorism. A case study of Northern Ireland is presentedin the third section and is intended as an initial test of the model developed in section two.Here, we provide a brief historical overview, concentrating on key events in the formationof the IRA, and then turn attention to examples of violations of specific rights in orderto examine the applicability of the theoretical model. This section is concluded with adiscussion of important international factors that helped shape the development of terroristactivity. The fourth and last section offers a discussion of the implications of the case study,the articles conclusions, as well as suggestions for further research.</p><p>Defining Terrorism and State of the Field</p><p>A review of the literature addressing the definition of terrorism reveals the difficulty inadvancing the study of the subject. First, there is little consensus on the definition itself.For example, terrorism has been defined as politically motivated violence by small groups(Rubenstein 1974), covert violence by a group for political ends (Laqueur 2001), politicalviolence that includes a climate of terror (Wilkinson 2003), and a synthesis of war andtheater . . . perpetuated on innocent victims . . . in the hope of creating a mood of fear, forpolitical purposes (Combs 2003, 10). Although many of the definitions contain similarelements (violence, political motives, innocent victims), a precise or measurable definitionis lacking. Each definition requires a normative judgment on the part of the reader thatinevitably leads to the much often quoted, one mans terrorist is another mans revolutionary,even to the extent that a great deal of time and effort has been expended in trying to make</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f G</p><p>uelp</p><p>h] a</p><p>t 05:</p><p>21 0</p><p>9 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>Toward a Theory of Terrorism 681</p><p>the truly reprehensible politically respectable (Cooper 2001, 887). The result, as Schultz(1990, 49) points out, is a literature that is descriptive, prescriptive and obliquely emotivein form. This leads to the second endemic problem in the terrorist literature, the overlynormative nature of the research.</p><p>Most definitions of terrorism involve normative judgments that create a barrier toempirical research. Rubenstein (1974) suggests that the word terrorism involves judgment,which necessarily implies illegitimacy. Laqueur (1999) points out that although guerrillahas a positive connotation, terrorism almost always has a negative meaning. It is hereinrecognized that many of the subfields of social science cannot escape a dose of normativeovertones. For example, researchers of human rights would generally argue, in a normativemanner, that states should not engage in human rights violations. However, at some stagethe research of any topic must move forward into testable hypotheses. The problem withthe normative nature of terrorism, the vagueness of the definition, as well as a lack of consen-sus regarding a definition of terrorism is that this precludes any additive as well as cumulativeresearch in the field (Zinnes 1976). In fact, OBrien (1998) argues that scholarly researchon the causes of international terrorism has all but escaped rigorous empirical analysis.</p><p>Given these inherent problems, we utilize the definition provided by Bueno de Mesquita(2000, 339) who defines terrorism as any act of violence undertaken for the purpose ofaltering a governments political policies or actions that targets those who do not actuallyhave the personal authority to alter governmental policy. As such, terrorism is designed tospread fear and anxiety (terror) through a population so that it will, in turn, put pressure onits leaders to change policies in a way favored by terrorists (Buena de Mesquita 2000, 339).The benefit of Buena de Mesquitas definition is that it avoids the normative pitfalls of otherdefinitions of terrorism. According to this definition, terrorism can be distinguished fromother forms of conflict by its target. Terrorism involves conflict where non-governmentalentities target civilians, as opposed to other forms of conflict where the targets are elementsof the government. The researcher does not have to make a normative judgment regardingthe difference between an independence movement and terrorism, but instead must identifythe target.2 This definition allows for conceptual independence for empirical research ofthe causes and effects of terrorism.</p><p>Most research on the causes of terrorism focuses on the individual level of analysis,particularly the psychological and sociological causes (Rubenstein 1974; Crenshaw 1981;Sederberg 1994; Combs 2003). Scant research examines state or system causes of terroristsactivity in spite of the plethora of media and popular attention to these types of conditions(Crenshaw 1981; Ross 1993). In attempting to discuss political, social, or economicconditions influencing terrorism, the bulk of research consists of case studies (Crenshaw1981; Whittaker 2001), primarily on the basis that no general theory of terrorism has beenformulated. In fact, Crenshaw (1995, 5) suggests that in regards to terrorism a generaltheory based on conditions is impossible because the final decision depends on judgmentsindividual political actors make about these conditions. This article argues that this isprobably true about many issues in political science, sociology, and the other social sciences.If one is devising a theory of why certain regimes violate human rights, ultimately it is up tothe individual political actors to make some judgment about the conditions within the statethat makes violating human rights seem worthwhile. Similarly, if one discusses foreignpolicy, decisions to use force, or international relations in general, one could always deferto particular judgments of the different state leaders. If this premise is accepted, the future ofresearch on terrorism will forever remain in the infancy stage. Moreover, failure to develop atheoretical framework regarding terrorism prevents researchers from ever hoping to predictand forecast terrorist activity. On the other hand, an overarching theoretical framework</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f G</p><p>uelp</p><p>h] a</p><p>t 05:</p><p>21 0</p><p>9 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>682 R. Callaway and J. Harrelson-Stephens</p><p>would facilitate future empirical testing and allow one to draw broad generalizations aboutthe causes of terrorism. Taking Buena de Mesquitas definition of terrorism as a startingplace, the next section develops a general framework to identify the causes of terrorism.</p><p>Human Rights, International Factors and Terrorism: The Theoretical Links</p><p>In the early hours of Monday 9 August 1971, I was kidnapped from my bedby armed men, taken away and held as a hostage for five and a half weeks. Iwas not in Uruguay, Brazil, Greece or Russia. I was in the United Kingdom,an hours flight from London. I was in Belfast.John McGuffin (1973)</p><p>At the heart of the present argument is the human condition. What makes the averagecitizen become an active member of a terro...</p></li></ul>