Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
Read more about this book at manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk
A trademark of the post-9/11War on Terror was the extensive use of the terror label. Violent groups across the world, from al-Qaida to FARC, were labelled as terror groups and punished accordingly. Mechanisms such as travel bans and financial limitations were implemented for these groups and there was a broadly increased moral barrier against talking to them. Such terror listings made sense so long as the goal was to defeat these groups, but, as Haspeslagh shows, this proscription regime had massive adverse effects on attempted peace processes which involved groups given such a designation. Using FARC and the Colombian conflict as a case study, she shows that the pre-negotiation phase became all the more difficult as a result of the terror listing of FARC. It greatly reduced the available third parties who could mediate the conflict and it introduced yet another barrier to be overcome in order to initiate a peace process. Haspeslagh's concept of 'linguistic ceasefire' as a necessary step for the parties to launch a peace process is very insightful, highlighting the fact that terror and conflict are two different things. So long as a group is perceived as a terror group, and not as a party to a conflict, it is not seen as someone that can be talked to or negotiated with. Such an understanding blocks the path to peace and needs to be overcome. The FARC case study is very useful in underscoring the practice of this mechanism, but the findings are clearly transferable to other conflicts across the globe, making the book a valuable contribution for academics and practitioners alike.