We look at the narratives of politicians.

How terrorist organisations are framed makes a difference 

and it's not always about public safety.

 

Our research takes a critical look at the processes by which organisations are designated as terrorist and outlawed by the state.

The premise of this work is that the values and ideas of liberal democratic societies are constantly subject to challenge and change, especially by those in power. Tracing the processes and rhetoric of banning terrorist organisations reveals much about the power of politicians to impose a particular roster of values. It is one that delimits the scope of legitimate and illegitimate political dissent in a democracy, and it is one that frequently employs the label of terrorism to achieve political, rather than public safety, goals. 

 

Some of our published research...


Banishing the Enemies of All Mankind

Overview: Proscription laws criminalising membership of extremist organisations have a long and chequered history, stretching back as far as ancient Rome of 82 BC. In their contemporary guise, proscription laws in Australia, Canada, the UK and US have largely been calibrated to tackle the threat of Islamist violent extremism (and, for Australia, Canada and the US, criminality associated with motorcycle gangs). Detractors of proscription laws have argued that the powers have been used arbitrarily to suppress legitimate state dissent, protect state interests and represent politicised policing. Proponents of the powers, by contrast, argue that proscription powers are a necessary and proportionate response to the very real terrorist threat to the state and the public. The evidence remains unclear on whether proscription powers actually strengthen the arm of policing and security agencies or, indeed, curb terrorist activity associated with the proscribed organisations. This Chapter undertakes a comparative review of the the proscription laws and powers across Australia, Canada, the UK and US and asks: how effective are proscription laws in countering terrorism? 

Enemies of the State

67_expanded_gallery2.jpg

Overview: This article assesses the use of proscription powers as a tool for countering terrorism, using the United Kingdom as a case study. The article begins with a brief overview of the United Kingdom’s current proscription regime. It then situates this in historical context, noting the significant recent increase in proscribed groups and the pre- dominance of ‘Islamist’ organisations therein. The article then critiques proscription on four principal grounds. First, in terms of the challenges of identifying and designating proscribed groups. Second, we highlight the considerable domestic and transnational politicking that surrounds proscription decisions. Third, we assess the normative impor- tance of protecting scope for political resistance and freedoms of expression and organi- sation. And, fourth, we question the efficacy of proscription as a counter-terrorism tool. The article concludes by arguing that proscription’s place in contemporary security poli- tics should be heavily safeguarded given these challenges, before pointing to specific policy recommendations to this end.