Thanks to generous funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, a team of us–me, Jessie Blackbourn, and Lydia Morgan–spent 18 months mapping, conceptualising, and investigating the operation of the counter-terrorism review assemblage in the United Kingdom. Throughout the project we maintained a website about the project and its animating ideas, and the project’s main output has now been published. This is a book entitled Accountability and Review in the Counter-Terrorist State published by Bristol University Press. The book goes on sale officially on 4 December 2019 but can be preordered here at the pre-publication price of £27.99.
Last November I was delighted to present a Current Legal Problems lecture at UCL. The article that emerged from that lecture has now been published in advance access format by the CLP and will appear in this year’s hardcopy. It is available here, and the abstract is as follows:
We live our lives in an often-unseen transnational counter-terrorism order. For almost two decades now, counter-terrorist hegemons have been acting on multiple transnational levels, using a mixture of legal, institutional, technical and political manoeuvres to develop laws, policies and practices of counter-terrorism that undervalue rights, exclude civil society, limit dissent and disagreement, and expand greatly the reach of national and transnational security. The assemblage of laws, institutions, forums, processes, bureaucracies, and cooperative networks that have emerged from these machinations should be understood as a transnational counter-terrorism order that is intended to instantiate on a global level ‘an arrangement of social life…[that]…promotes certain goals or values’ (Bull), whether or not they conflict with rights, whether or not they emerge from legitimate and participatory processes. This paper brings together various seemingly-technical or esoteric strands of law, institutions, policy and politics to show their connections, interdependencies and interactions and, thereby, to illustrate the emergence of this transnational counter-terrorism order. It argues that unless we recognise the connections between and multi-scalar implications of the seemingly disparate, sometimes opaque, and often bureaucratic elements that make up the transnational counter-terrorism order, its scale and implications will remain hidden in plain sight and we may find ourselves unable effectively to insist on fidelity to the constitutionalist values of rights, accountability, and democratic legitimacy.
The latest issue of the King’s Law Journal is a special reflection on ‘civil liberties under Conservative-led governments since 2010′. The papers within the issue cover a wide range of topics including human rights protection across what Colin Harvey calls the “fractured union” of the UK, to the European Social Charter discussed by Colm O’Cinnéide.
My colleague Lydia Morgan and I have a paper on counter-terrorism law and policy (“Is there a Conservative counter-terrorism?”), wanting to question whether there is something distinctive about the Conservative approach to counter-terrorism in the post-2010 era when compared with what came before it. In the paper we find that actually there is a remarkable level of substantive continuity between New Labour governments from 1997-2010 and the 2010+ approach in Conservative-Led governments. The Blair/Brown approach in turn is deeply informed by what preceded it, especially in Northern Ireland, so that in fact there is a fairly wide and deep consensus about some core commitments within UK counter-terrorism law. Those core commitments are: a focus on prevention, an embrace of surveillance, and a manifestation of human rights scepticism in the counter-terrorism context. Continue reading New article: Is there a Conservative Counter-Terrorism?
I have a column in today’s The Independent on Jeremy Corbyn’s remarks on the importance of addressing the causes of terrorism and the potential for foreign affairs policies to impact on terrorism at home. The full column is available for free here, and here is a taster
In most other policy fields, we expect government to act on the basis of evidence; to survey the research, to consider it in context, to forecast the possible outcomes, to make the best laws and policies they can on the basis of this, to evaluate those laws and policies after some time, and to change them if they are not working. In the field of counterterrorism, however, this is perceived as weakness rather than prudence. Nothing could be further from the truth.