New Report: Embedding human rights in countering extremism

Together with my Birmingham colleague Katherine Brown and her PhD student Jessica White, I was commissioned by the Commission on Countering Extremism to undertake research on human rights and countering extremism. The result of this work is a report entitled “Embedding human rights in countering extremism: reflections from the field and proposals for change”, which was published by the Commission early in August 2019. The abstract summarises our findings:

Countering Extremism (CE) programmes and policies have been criticised for infringing on human rights because they are state-centric and security orientated in design, and because they can have unintended disproportionate impacts on rights such as those to freedom of expression, assembly, family life, and non-discrimination. The expanding remit of CE (and counter-terrorism) since 2001, but particularly since 2005 in the UK, means that state and security agendas now infuse many more areas of ‘ordinary living’ than would previously been countenanced, with disproportionate impact on socio-economically disadvantaged parts of society. As a consequence CE can be ineffective: extremist beliefs regarding state excess and victimisation of populations can inadvertently be affirmed, extremist behaviours strengthened as the state loses trust as the provider of human security or wellbeing, and extremist modes of belonging and identity normalised. As a result, there are vocal demands for alternative approaches to CE in the United Kingdom.

There are two main challenges to unpacking these critiques and responding to calls for change. The first is recognising ‘how’ CE produces outcomes of this kind, and the second is identifying alternatives that may mitigate such impacts and produce better outcomes. This paper begins to address these two knowledge gaps. It does so through utilising expert and practitioner testimony via a small number of interviews (18) and an expert workshop, as well as a review of existing research on countering extremism. It proceeds by (a) outlining our participants’ general understanding and critiques of CE in the UK, (b) drawing out specific critiques requiring attention, and (c) proposing the instigation of a rights-based approach to CE and of independent review of CE activities so that the effectiveness and outcomes (including negative societal impact) of CE initiatives can be identified through systematic and robust independent processes.

The report is available from the Government website here.

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New Article: Politicisation, law and rights in the transnational counter-terrorism space

The European Review of International Studies recently published my latest article, entitled  “Politicisation, Law and Rights in the Transnational Counter-Terrorism Space: Indications from the Regulation of Foreign Terrorist Fighters” ((2018) 5(3) European Review of International Studies 115). In the article, I extend my ongoing work on transnationalism and counter-terrorism, and especially on the European Union as a relevant counter-terrorism actor. Here is the abstract:

Since 2001 a transnational counter-terrorism space has emerged that is vast in its scale and ambition and which can be discerned at both ‘universal’ (i.e. United Nations) and regional (e.g. European Union) levels, as well as in other formal and informal international organisations (for example the G7 and the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum). This article explores the question of politicisation within that transnational counter-terrorism space, and the potential for meaningful politicisation in respect of initiatives and measures emanating from transnational processes. Taking the example of ‘foreign terrorist fighters’ it argues that a shift in arena to the transnational counter-terrorism space has fundamentally challenged the capacity for effective and meaningful politicisation; that the transnational counter-terrorism space can be depoliticised by design, that where this happens the domestic counter-terrorism space is depoliticised by implication, and that the legal benefits of politicisation may thus be lost to the detriment of rights, legality and accountability.

The paper is available open access in pre-print form from the University of Birmingham, or in final form (£) from the publisher.

New Book: Repealing the 8th

9781447347514-405759-800x600Next week my new book, coauthored with my colleague Máiréad Enright, will be published by Policy Press. The book, entitled Repealing the 8th: Reforming Irish Abortion Law, is intended to be an accessible volume for politicians, policy makers, campaigners, and voters in advance of the referendum on repeal of the 8th Amendment which we expect this summer. The book is designed to be affordable (it should be around €10/£10 in the shops and online directly from Policy Press; it will also be available for free online from 7 February 2018), and to connect what sometimes seem like technical, legal debates to real life questions of material well being and reproductive choice. We will be launching the book in The Long Room Hub in Trinity on 27 February 2018, but the launch is now fully sold out.

We have funds to support coming to towns and cities all over Ireland to discuss the book and the referendum with groups, big and small. Anyone who would like to try to organise a visit from us in the run up to the referendum should get in touch on f.delondras[at]bham.ac.uk or by direct message on twitter where I am @fdelond. All we need is for people to be able to host us: advocacy groups, book shops, book clubs, community halls and groups, schools, universities, student groups etc are all welcome to get in touch.

This is why repeal matters

Cross-posted from the University Times

Last week, William Binchy – a long-time anti-choice campaigner in Ireland – affirmed his view that the eighth amendment had “done its job”, so to speak. And it has. It was introduced into the constitution in 1983 to make sure that abortion could never be legalised in Ireland. As a result, pregnant persons in Ireland cannot access a lawful abortion unless they are likely to die without one. This makes ours one of the most restrictive abortion law regimes in the world. Continue reading This is why repeal matters