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Analysis Paper – UN Sanctions and Selective Security: Targeting Terrorists

Posted by / 20th December 2017 / Categories: Analysis / -

Counterterrorism is among the top priorities of the United Nations’ policy agenda. Under UNSCR 1267 (1999) and 2253 (2015), the United Nations have imposed targeted sanctions on more than four hundred individuals and over 150 groups and entities, 22 of which are recognized as terrorist organizations. Together, these sanctioned organizations are responsible for roughly 86.000 deaths since 2001 worldwide. International terrorism and Islamic extremism are rightly recognized by the United Nations as a treat to the peace, and imposing sanctions on terrorist organizations effectively signals that the perpetrators of terrorism constitute a threat to the peace much like wars of aggression or civil wars do.

But are the efforts of the UN to counter terrorism proportionate to the threat? And has the UN been coherent in their policies of adding groups to their list of designated terrorist organizations? Or does the track-record of sanctioning terrorist organizations rather reflect a selective logic, influenced by the political interests of those who impose sanctions? This paper will answer both of the questions posed above. Firstly, we will consider the threat posed by international terrorism in relation to other ‘threats to the peace’ that the UN Security Council has sanctioned since 1990, including wars of aggression, coups d’état, and civil wars. Secondly, we will consider the 27 terrorist groups that were sanctioned by the UN under UNSCR 1267 and 2253, and compare them to a total 67 other terrorist organizations that were arguably equally ‘sanctionable’, but that were nonetheless not sanctioned. In total, 88 groups are analyzed on the basis of the amount of deaths produced and on their claimed objectives, categorizing the objectives in order to distinguish groups who aim for regional autonomy or to overthrow their government from those who want to implement sharia law or establish a worldwide Islamic caliphate, among others.

Our research leads us to conclude that UN sanctions do not respond to the act of terrorism as such, but rather to the objectives that organizations claim to pursue. As a result, relatively minor Islamic extremist groups are sanctioned, whereas separatists, nationalists, and communists who commit brutal acts of terror are left off the hook. The UN’s focus on words rather than deeds is partially explainable; after all, words matter, and some objectives are more dangerous to international security than others, especially when they threaten the modern international sovereign state system. Nevertheless, the track-record of UN sanctions on terrorist organizations seems to be a disproportionate result of political considerations within the institutional boundaries of the UN Charter than a reflection of humanitarian concerns.

A ReSeT Analysis Paper authored by Thomas Kruiper and Federico Fargion

For the full paper, please click here.


Analysis Paper – UN Sanctions and Islamic Terrorism: An Association with Fatal Repercussions

Posted by / 20th December 2017 / Categories: Analysis / -

The focus of this paper is the aftermath that the association between terrorism and Islam has created within the UN’s listing of designated terrorist organizations. First, we compare the religious background of the 26 terrorist organizations sanctioned under UNSCR’s 1267 to 62 similarly ‘sanctionable’ terrorist organizations that were not sanctioned. Subsequently, for those organizations that were sanctioned we compare their death counts before and after being sanctioned, allowing us to draw some conclusions about the effects of UN sanctions on their targets.

In order to measure deadliness, we use data from the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) database. In order to establish whether a terrorist organization can be defined as ‘sanctionable’, we rely on the Sanctionable Offences Database. To establish the ‘religious background’ of each organization we rely on our own research.

All in all, the organisations that have been sanctioned under UNSCRs 1267 and 2253 in contrast to sanctionable organisations that have not been listed since 2001, we have exposed that the UN is not anti-Islam as such but rather against a creation of a new Islamic Caliphate by organisations that commit acts of terror as it poses a threat to the current international balance of power. In addition, it would appear that the UNSCR 1267 is unsuccessful in deterring further acts of terror after organisations have been listed, with a majority of organisations in fact having an increase in their overall deadliness over time.

ReSeT Analysis Paper authored by Eleanor Manley and Thomas Kruiper

For the full paper, please click here.


Analysis Paper – The US Military Drone Programme: Obama’s Gift to Trump

Posted by / 20th December 2017 / Categories: Analysis, Opinion / -

The current Trump White House inherited an aggressive and secretive military drone programme, developed by the previous two administrations. This previously allowed President Obama to satisfy his security community through active killings of suspected terrorists, while at the same time maintaining the image of being a peacemaker to the outside world. Now, in 2017, his successor- facing significant resistance both domestically as well as internationally- seems content to let the security community make its own decisions on how to employ this programme. As a result, these drones are a mostly forgotten yet still deadly tool, with very little oversight or accountability for who gets killed and why.

ReSeT Analysis Paper authored by Kristine Bondevik Westlie and Balder Hageraats

For the full paper, please click here.


Website Update October 2015

Posted by / 14th October 2015 / Categories: ReSeT News / -

Dear visitor,

This summer the ReSeT team have worked on a number of important internal changes, with our emphasis shifting towards application projects and research for external organisations. As a result, we have decided to de-prioritise publications for our own website. Whenever one of our projects is in the public domain, we will still publish it on our site. However, regular articles will no longer be featured. In order to reflect this new focus, we will adjust the website accordingly in the next few weeks.

As always, please contact us for further information at

Kind regards,

The ReSeT Team



Happy Holiday Season

Posted by / 22nd December 2014 / Categories: Polis, ReSeT News / Tags: , , , / -

holiday season 2014

As we are about to part with 2014 and usher in the new year, we can proudly look back at the past year and the progress that we made. It has been a great pleasure to work on the Polis as well as other projects. Now, at the dawn of 2015, we are ready to implement the practical application of the Polis, an important and exciting step for all of us. The model is fully developed, we have an enthusiastic network of local and global partners, and a lot of ideas on how to implement our project on the ground.

We therefore very much look forward to 2015 being a successful year full of opportunities and challenges. For now, however, our thoughts turn gratefully to those who have made our progress possible. Thank you all for your continued support, collaboration and trust throughout 2014.

All of us at ReSeT and the Polis Project wish you a Happy Holiday Season and all the best in the new year.

The ReSeT Team


South Sudan: Past, Present and Future

Posted by / 16th June 2014 / Categories: Reports / Tags: , / -

In 2012, ReSeT wrote a report in collaboration with REDES on South Sudan. This report has now been translated into English, and can be found by clicking here.