Many scholars and policymakers state that negotiating with terrorist groups legitimizes them, their goals and their methods. They assert that such negotiations incite violence, weaken democratic states, and weaken the norm of non-violence.
However, the legitimization of terrorist groups through negotiations can transform a conflict away from violence, if groups have to renounce violence to engage in talks. Negotiations also enable groups to voice their grievances, and strengthen factions interested in non-violent solutions. In contrast, naming groups as terrorist with the intention of de-legitimising them can radicalize such groups and curtail attempts to resolve conflicts non-violently.
Issues of legitimacy and complexity should not rule out negotiations. Negotiations in terrorist conflicts are potentially less destructive than most other responses, offering an alternative to current policies of violent counter-terrorism. Exploring rather than rejecting complexity adds an important dimension to research and policymaking on Al-Qaeda. The key conclusions of the article include:
Negotiating with terrorists can lead to their legitimation, but also encourage them to transform into non-violent actors.
Al-Qaeda’s complex structure enables policymakers to engage with numerous actors, rather than the leadership. Separate peace processes could be conducted with different local groups, reducing Al-Qaeda’s
Defining groups as terrorist limits their possibilities of being anything else, and limits the state’s possible means of engagement.
Engaging through negotiations can potentially reverse isolating and radicalising processes through naming, creating instead inclusive
and legitimising processes. This could strengthen rather than
disempower the norm of non-violence in politics.
What rule/law if any, prevents negotiations between these organizations and the government?