Prevention or cure

A Development Co-operation Lens on Terrorism Prevention
OECD Observer

Violent conflict plus widespread public insecurity and fear are primary causes of poverty, says the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee. Yet poverty itself is fertile ground for terrorism. In fact, terrorists often cite development problems as justification for their acts, says A Development Cooperation Lens on Terrorism Prevention.

This booklet focuses on ways that aid donors can follow to address the links between terrorism and development, and suggests how aid programmes may be designed or adjusted accordingly, on both financial and social levels. While development efforts cannot and should not target individual terrorists or their networks, warns A Development Co-operation Lens on Terrorism Prevention, donor countries have a role to play in helping to deprive terrorists of the conditions that they feed on and exploit.

Bolstering stability with funding programmes is just one element. Within the framework of providing aid, efforts need to be made also at the community level to dissuade disaffected groups from embracing violence, reinforce good governance and make globalisation an inclusive process.

For instance, interviews with terrorists from Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim groups reveal that religion is often used as a vehicle to articulate political and economic grievances. A Development Co-operation Lens on Terrorism Prevention advises that donors should work with local religious groups to better understand belief systems and avoid eschewing them. In particular, the report says, it is important to help build bridges between religious and cultural communities so that the process of “secular” modernisation of the State does not destroy these vital connections.

Though some renowned terrorists are themselves wealthy, living a quite privileged existence, they win adherents when they argue that there is little to live for in their “impoverished” world and more to look forward to in the next. Economic development might not stop extremists, but can help make recruiting grounds much less fertile (see article by Richard Manning, page 36).

©OECD Observer No 243, May 2004

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