On December 6th, 2018, the World Solidarity Forum collaborated with Institute for Economics and Peace to present the Global Terrorism Index 2018. We had the honor of having Serge Stroobants (Director of Operations for Europe, Middle East and Africa at the Institute for Economics and Peace) and Birgit Loeser (Deputy Head of Division of Counter-Terrorism at the EU External Action Service).
At the event there was discussion over the results found in the GTI 2018. Which include; Deaths from terrorism decreased by 27% from 2016 – 2017. Ninety-four countries improve their scores on the GTI, while 46 deteriorated. Europe had the biggest year on year percentage improvement with total deaths falling by 75%. The estimated economic impact of terrorism in 2017 was $52 billion USD, however the true economic impact is likely to be much higher.
Some of the trends in terrorism that were disclosed in the Global Terrorism Index 2018 talk about; This is the third consecutive year that number of deaths from terrorism has decreased. Every region in the world recorded a higher average impact of terrorism in 2017 compared to 2002. Bombing and armed assaults have been the most common form of terrorist attack every year for the past 20 years. In Western Europe, deaths fell by 52%, from 168 in 2016 to 81 in 2017. From January until October 2018, fewer than 10 deaths were recorded in the region. Despite the fall in deaths, the number of incidents rose in Western Europe. Increased counter-terrorism spending and security measures have reduced the lethality of attacks.
The emerging hotspots of terrorism were discussed as well; The level of violence and terrorist activity in Iraq and Syria has fallen considerably in the last two years. Iraq recorded the biggest fall in 2017, a trend which seems to have continued in 2018. ISIL has lost most of its territory and sources of revenue in Syria and Iraq. However, affiliate groups in other regions are becoming more active. In Nigeria in 2018, there has been a dramatic increase in violence involving Fulani extremists even as deaths committed by Boko Haram are falling. In Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Myanmar recorded the highest number of deaths from terrorism in 2017 since 2002.
Afterwards, the patterns in terrorist recruitment; Conflict and political terror are the primary drivers of terrorist activity. In countries with high levels of economic development other factors are more closely linked to terrorism, such as social cohesion, alienation and involvement in external conflict. In Western Europe, individuals with a history of criminality are especially susceptible to recruitment. Best estimates suggest that between 40% and 60% of ISIL foreign fighters have a criminal background. The number of returnee foreign fighters is expected to increase in the coming year. Some estimates suggest that over 40,000 foreign fighters have joined ISIL in Syria and Iraq since the beginning of 2013.
As part of the event, one of the members from the WSF Advocacy team Mazhbeen Siganporia presented a speech. During her speech she explained how we at the World Solidarity Forum are committed to defending and furthering the agenda of Human rights and peace and security. Afterwards, she explained our current campaign which focuses on examining the humanitarian crises caused by conflict, as well as highlighting that Kashmir due to its low-level conflict has been forgotten, and that the World Solidarity Forum is committed to the cause of highlighting the plight of the people of Kashmir and striving to face the issues they have by finding solutions through collaborations.
The collaborations with the Institute for Economics and Peace happened because of the shared goals of peace and security. Mazhbeen talked about the fundamental needs of a human being, one of the most important ones being the need to feel safe. Terrorism aims to deprive people of this basic need, it is nothing more than an attempt to thwart peace, human dignity and human rights. Due to that fact, we believe that it is important to understand the current trends in terrorism and acknowledge how countries are attempting to deal with the issue. The World Solidarity Forum thanked the Institute for Economics and Peace for their contribution to peace and security through their research.
We believe that knowledge is a strength, and the more knowledge we have, the more prepared we can be against any possible threats. During our GTI 2018 event we were able to discuss about Terrorism, understand more in depth how it develops and learn about its strengths and weaknesses. At World Solidarity Forum we aim to protect Human Rights as well as preserve peace, through collaborations and information. For us it is essential to understand terrorism to find the solutions that the world needs against it.