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'Beyond Radicalization: Towards an Integrated Anti-Violence Rule of Law Strategy'

58 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2011  

Colm Campbell

Ulster University - Transitional Justice Institute

Date Written: April 7, 2011


Empirical data from apartheid era South Africa (1960 -1994), the Occupied Palestinian Territories (1967 - 2011), and Northern Ireland (1968 - 1998) demonstrate links between rule of law degradation, mass mobilization, radicalization and ultimately violent mobilization. Similar, though much less strong links can be identified in the Federal Republic of Germany (1967-1998). There is a need to reconceptualize the state’s role as actor, acknowledging that its ‘anti-terrorist measures’ may have a capacity both to suppress terrorism and insurgency and to contribute to their escalation. In particular societies, the dominance of escalatory or of suppressive effects may fluctuate over time. The nexus demonstrated by this data is not automatic: The acts that seem to have greatest mobilizing effects are killing demonstrators and perceived prisoner abuse. Particular attention is therefore needed in relation to legal protections against ill-treating prisoners, and against the misuse of lethal force. While strategies that entail lower levels of rule of law degradation can sometimes be effective, this seems largely limited to the declining phase of the violent protest cycle. In general, strategies that maximize rule of law adherence seem to pose the least risk of escalating conflict in the early stages. They also seem to offer the greatest possibility of containing conflict pending peace negotiations. In many violently conflicted societies the appropriate aim is not to ‘defeat the enemy’ (with law manipulated to that end), but rather to use law to bring her into a better way of doing politics, and to bring the state into operating a (law based) model of human security compatible with it.

Keywords: radicalization, mobilization, terrorism, insurgency, rule of law, peace

Suggested Citation

Campbell, Colm, 'Beyond Radicalization: Towards an Integrated Anti-Violence Rule of Law Strategy' (April 7, 2011). Transitional Justice Institute Research Paper No. 11-05. Available at SSRN: or

Colm Campbell (Contact Author)

Ulster University - Transitional Justice Institute ( email )

Shore Road
Newtownabbey, County Antrim BT37 OQB
Northern Ireland

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