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Mapping Counterterrorism: A categorization of policies and the promise of empirically-based, systematic comparisons

17 June 2008

 Awareness of the full range of options is a vital element in the development of any sound policy. Ideally, an inventory of policy options would of course come with an estimation of the effects, advantages and disadvantages of each policy and of the circumstances under which they might work. The field of counterterrorism studies seems, unfortunately, to fall short of even the first step, an overview of the options. Even though the numbers of academic publications on counterterrorism have skyrocketed since 9/11, we know as of yet very little about what kinds of policies are now being applied and have been applied in the
past and about how all these policies converge and differ from each other. This report describes our first attempt at a framework that will help us identify different categories of counterterrorism policies of states. Not only will this tool be helpful in meeting a necessary condition for research into the effectiveness of counterterrorism policies, it will also be helpful later on in identifying how a given policy should be adapted in order to establish policies that can be considered ‘best practices’.

Here, we will discuss the state of the art of the application of frameworks and inventories to compare counterterrorism policies, explain the logic behind our own framework, briefly describe the application to eleven EU member states, analyze the results and formulate an empirically-based categorization of counterterrorism policies. As this is not merely an academic exercise, we applied our framework to the counterterrorism policies of eleven EU member states to see whether there are any policy gaps the EU could step into. After all, filling these gaps is a requirement if the EU wants all its member states to have a comprehensive counterterrorism policy. If our framework is well-constructed, it
will show us what counterterrorism policy fields have been neglected by both the member states and the EU.