Two decades have passed since the attacks of 11 September 2001 in New York and other parts of the United States. Significant changes in international politics and several ‘wars on terror’ have since occurred, with – most likely – more yet to come. These changes in the international political scene were mirrored to a substantial extent within academia, as ‘terrorism studies’ underwent a rapid expansion from being a minor subfield under security studies to an almost-standalone discipline in its own right. Degrees focusing on terrorism, from the bachelor to doctoral levels, have grown in popularity among students alongside a corresponding growth in funding from governments and institutions. An entire field of research on terrorism and counterterrorism, countering violent extremism (CVE), and preventing violent extremism (PVE) now exists, and will be staying with us for the foreseeable future.
Although terrorism studies and related fields have indeed undergone an evolution over the past two decades, critical studies show that there are serious epistemological, methodological, and political-normative issues in academic disciplines focused on terrorism. Within this context, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has become a focal point for scholars of terrorism as well as governments waging ‘wars on terror’, dating back to the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan in the months after 9/11 and its invasion of Iraq soon thereafter.
Under the theme ‘Counterterrorism and Human Rights, Twenty Years after 9/11’, Rowaq Arabi, a double-blind peer-reviewed journal specialised in human rights studies, calls for original research exploring critical approaches to the study of terrorism, counterterrorism, human rights violations, radicalisation and authoritarianism in the MENA region. Papers of 5000-7000 words should be submitted by email to [email protected] no later than midnight of 23 May 2021. Submissions should consist of two separate files: an anonymised complete manuscript, and a cover page that has the manuscript’s title, author’s name and details, and a 150-word abstract. Articles with the most relevant content and of the highest quality will be selected and sent for peer-review. Once published, authors will be financially compensated for their contributions.
Rowaq Arabi suggests the following sub-topics for research, while welcoming other suggestions relevant to the main theme of this call:
- The evolution of the definition of terrorism within academia, and within state terrorism legislation, over the last twenty years.
- The role of human rights in the international community’s responses to terrorism over the past two decades.
- The underlying or root causes of international and domestic terrorism, and the investigation of corollaries or links between repressive human rights policies and radicalisation/extremism, be it political and/or religious.
- The intersection between the geopolitical changes in the MENA region following the 9/11 attacks and the Arab Spring uprisings a decade later.
- The evolution of the international and regional normative and institutional frameworks of counterterrorism and their impact on human rights, including an assessment of the work of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism and of the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED); and the evolution of UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (GCTS), and the mushrooming of UN counterterrorism architecture in New York.
- Discussing the human rights implications of key policies and practices that escalated or gained prominence in the global war on terrorism, including targeted killings, drone strikes, arbitrary detention, and extradition and rendition of suspected terrorists.
- Many states have put great emphasis on extraordinary security measures that transformed constitutional and legal orders into permanent states of exception. Rowaq Arabi welcomes studies that locate this global debate within the political and legal dynamics of the MENA region, including the use of counterterrorism policies and discourses to serve the survival strategies of ruling governments, and how this impacts states’ capacity to address terrorism and radicalisation.
- Examining the interrelationship between Western democratic states and authoritarian governments in the MENA region. Western states have tended to condone human rights violations by authoritarian allies, if such violations occur within the context of fighting terrorism. At the same time, Western democracies have eroded basic freedoms in their own countries in the name of countering terrorism; with a disproportionate impact on the rights of Muslims or people of Arab origins living in the West, and on refugees and migrants.
- Comparative case studies that analyse the proliferation of counterterrorism and security laws in the MENA region and how they affect human rights in practice.
- The economic dimension as a root cause of terrorism and/or government spending in the MENA region on counterterrorism in comparison to spending on development and poverty alleviation.
- The relation, if any, between the Arab Spring uprisings and the rise of terrorism in general, and ISIS in particular.
- The implications of the ‘war on terror’ on women and minorities in the region.
To read more about Rowaq Arabi, its history in print since 1996 and its ongoing online transition, in addition to our publication guidelines, please refer to this link.
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