Launch of Global Terrorism Index 2017 in Bruxelles

30 December 2017
Deaths from terrorism have fallen for the second consecutive year according to the studies of the Institute of Economics and Peace.

On 16th November 2017 Clara Cotroneo and Laura Morselli, members of L’Osservatorio’s team, attended the launch of the 2017 Global Terrorism Index (GTI), one of the most important events in the field of global terrorism studies. The GTI, presented for the first time in 2012 by the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP), is released every year in November and ranks 163 countries (and 99% of the world population) according to their relative impact on terrorism. Terrorism is defined by the IEP as “any form of violence from a non-state actor to attain political, economic, religious or social goals”. Before the GTI's launch, hosted at the Vesalius College in Bruxelles, three guests contributed with their presentations: Daniela Irrera, associate professor at the University of Catania (Italy) and president of the European Peace Research Association, Ramona Manescu, Romanian politician member of the European Parliament with the European People's Party, and Daniel Hyslop, research director at IEP.

Prof. Irrera presented her research on the connection between organised crime and terrorism and its impact on regional and global security. In fact, now more than ever terrorists use revenues from illegal trafficking and smuggling to fund their activities, while organised crime groups employ terror tactics. Criminals and terrorists interact, cooperate and establish temporary alliances or simply coexist in a region for strategic purposes. These interactions, facilitated by political instability, represent a serious threat to national political systems in place, as they undermine the work of institutions and challenge democracy. This relatively new crime-terror nexus is growing and becoming progressively complicated. According to Prof. Irrera it is fundamental that we analyse and understand the nexus in-depth, so as to establish a new form of cooperation and policies that are tailored to combat this specific, multifaceted problem.

Ramona Manescu declared that terrorism remains the main security threat for Europe and it is strongly perceived as a realistic danger by Europeans. She underlined the importance, in combating terrorism, of understanding the roots of radicalisation, the deep sense of despair that is spreading in European countries, the lack of economic opportunities and poor educational and life resources. She warned that particular attention must be focused on cyber terrorism, a radicalisation channel that is frequently exploited by armed groups like ISIS, but which at the moment Europe is not able to tackle efficiently. Manescu also suggested that there is a causal relation between refugees, migrant and terrorism in Europe, a claim that has received strong objections from the audience.

Daniel Hyslop took the stage after Mrs. Manescu to present the 2017 GTI. The headline finding of the 2017 report carries a positive message, as the number of global deaths from terrorism has decreased by 13% in 2016 with respect to 2015. The top 5 countries with the largest number of deaths from terrorism are Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria and Pakistan, and together they account for 75% of the total deaths from terrorism in 2016. While Nigeria is the country with the most significant decrease in deaths from terrorism with respect to 2015 (80% fewer casualties), Iraq is the country with the highest increase (40%).  The vast majority of casualties from terrorism in the world in the past 17 years were caused by only four groups: ISIL, al Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Taliban. OECD countries (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development of which the vast majority of European states is member) have experienced a slight increase in terrorism in the past years and now account for 1% of the global death from terrorism in 2016 (only 0.1% in 2010). Nevertheless, of the total 10,000 people killed by terrorism in since 1970 in OECD countries, the largest toll of casualties was caused by al Qaeda (especially due to the 11 September 2001 attack), followed by IRA. Since 2014 the attacks in OECD countries seem to follow different tactics and are beginning to target simple civilians. The evening ended with several questions from the public, particularly focused on the different importance given in the media to victims of terrorism in OECD countries compared to other countries where terrorism causes a high number of deaths.

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