chapter  5
4 Pages

Multilateral counter-terrorism: Today and tomorrow

Terrorism today, as for the last century or more, is an internationalized, globalized threat. As such, we might expect that states would pursue counter-terrorism measures on a cooperative, multilateral basis. This intuition is partially borne out in the modern history of counter-terrorism cooperation. On the one hand, it seems, international cooperation against terrorism today is perhaps stronger than it has ever been. The number and variety of institutions involved and the depth of their interaction with states are without precedent in the modern era. On the other hand, however, most cooperation has focused on preventive counter-terrorism measures, where existing institutions have been more readily adapted to tasks of counter-terrorism. As this suggests, counter-terrorism cooperation varies across the tools of counter-terrorism policy, across time and across institutional fora. In interpreting these developments, I have leant towards a realist account of international cooperation, which emphasizes the competitive nature of state interactions. Although there are examples of consensus, and although we often observe the influence of shared ideas (e.g. through professional or expert networks in certain areas), multilateral counter-terrorism remains intensely political and this, in turn, impedes the ability of states to establish broad-based cooperation. In concluding, I pose two key questions concerning the effectiveness of multilateral counter-terrorism as well as prospects for the future.