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Fighting Terrorism through the Rule of Law?


  • Seung-Whan Choi

    (Department of Political Science (M/C 276), University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA,


The question of whether democratic institutions facilitate terrorist activities is a controversial one in current scientific studies of terrorism. Although the ‘‘rule of law’’ is an essential institutional pillar of any mature democracy, its direct effect on domestic and international terrorism remains unexplored. Conceiving democratic rule of law as the coexistence of effective and impartial judicial systems and citizens’ recognition of the law as legitimate, the author presents a causal explanation in which a high-quality rule of law is considered to dampen ordinary citizens’ opportunity and willingness to engage in political violence, protecting democracies from becoming victims of terrorism. Built on a cross-sectional, time-series data analysis of 131 countries during the period from 1984 to 2004, the author finds that, ceteris paribus, maintaining a sound rule of law notably reduces the likelihood of any type of terrorist events. In short, the rule of law instantiated in democratic institutions provides a formidable bulwark against terrorism.

Suggested Citation

  • Seung-Whan Choi, 2010. "Fighting Terrorism through the Rule of Law?," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 54(6), pages 940-966, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jocore:v:54:y:2010:i:6:p:940-966

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