Mark Singleton speaks at the Society for International Development – Netherlands

On 16 October, ICCT Director Mark Singleton gave a speech at the Society for International Development – Netherlands (SIDNL) on counter-terrorism and development. In his speech, he addressed the synergies between development and counter-terrorism and discussed how they must go hand in hand.  Based on his extensive experience in development, diplomacy and defense, in fragile and conflict-affected states in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia,  Mr. Singleton has discovered the importance of a comprehensive approach to counter-terrorism (CT).

Nonetheless, he identified various obstacles for the cooperation between counter-terrorism and development, such as widespread mutual suspicion and the perception of, on the one hand, counter-terrorism being just drone attacks and quick wins, and on the other hand, development policy as a futile exercise in wishful thinking. Both sides accuse each other of “not getting it”, prefer to stay in their comfort zones and persist in their prejudices, rather than opening up to the other’s narrative.

To address this growing problem of terrorism, Mr. Singleton points out the importance of a comprehensive approach that focusses on Prevention and Rule of Law. “A security approach alone to the complex and interlinked problems will always fail. In fact, a radical, violent response will have the exact opposite effect, particularly when coming from a state actor already perceived as illegitimate”. Rather than adopting a security-led response, an effective CT strategy requires: A comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach, involving coordinated developmental, diplomatic and security interventions at the local, national and international level. To achieve a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary CT strategy we must:

  •     Stay faithful to the principles laid out in the OECD report, the UN’s action plan, the World Bank’s WDR, and the GCTF principles.
  •     The counter-terrorism community and the development community must work together hand in glove
  •      Prevention and a Rule of Law-based approach are the key pillars to a successful counter-terrorism/development strategy

Perhaps the biggest challenge faced today is resisting the temptation of securitisation, and instead staying within the boundaries of an open, tolerant and resilient society, where human rights for all and the rule of law are the fundamental basis.

“The synergies are undeniable, the gains obvious, and the needs are growing by the day”.


You can read the speech here