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Should Governments Negotiate With Terrorists?

by Jeff Thompson
January 2014

Crisis Negotiator Blog by Jeff Thompson

Jeff Thompson
Jonathan Powell, the long-term Downing Street Chief of Staff, who played a central role in the peace talks, says it is essential to secure an open line of communication with terrorists. He suggested that western governments should consider entering talks with al-Qaeda and the Taliban by applying the tactics used successfully in the Northern Ireland peace deal.

By Ioana Jelea- The priority of governments after a terrorist attack is to ensure the safety of the population, stabilize the state, and make sure that no other attacks will follow. Debates about whether governments should enter talks with terrorists produce a lot of heat, but a unanimous decision is never reached, mainly because of the emotional aftershock of an attack.

Those arguing against negotiating with terrorists claim that democracies should never give in to violence, and that terrorists should be punished for using it. It is argued that negotiation talks would only give legitimacy to terrorists, and would undermine the political actors who have tried to reach conflict resolution through peaceful measures. And aside from weakening international efforts to reduce the incidence of terrorism, negotiations can set a dangerous precedent.

However, democratic governments often negotiate with terrorist groups.

Read more here.

Biography


Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School having researched the impact nonverbal communication has in conflict situations with respect to developing rapport, building trust, and displaying professionalism.

Dr. Thompson has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, (crisis and hostage) negotiation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally for a variety of audiences including police personnel, government officials, judges, attorneys, physicians, sales people, business professionals, and both graduate and undergraduate students. He has also been published in numerous professional and academic publications.

He is the co-chair of ACR's national Crisis Negotiation Section, and he is an ad-hoc reviewer for multiple academic journals. He received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Werner Institute, Creighton University School of Law.

(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions and not that of any organization.)



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