Counter-Terrorism Efforts in the United Kingdom


A sanction regime affects the UK’S obligation under UN Security Council Regulation 1373 to incorporate elements of several existing sanctions regimes. Furthermore, just like NATO focuses on preventing terrorism in the UK as the menace globally drags behind the efforts of globalization. The UK has invested in the defense sector as it has to meet NATO requirements of spending at least two percent of GDP on defense (Băhnăreanu, 2019). With their existing budget, there is a need for the UK to be involved in counter-terrorism through reasonable means. Hence, this requires cooperation with other international bodies like the United Nations. The relationship between the UK with other nations after Brexit and how the challenges exist in counter-terrorism, alongside intelligence gathering are pertinent in fighting terrorism.

Requirements Associated with International Cooperation in Counter-Terrorism

Legal Discrepancies

There is a requirement for a common legal framework geared towards countering terrorism has been a challenge to the European Union and the world as a whole. An established legal framework provides guidelines for handling terrorism cases and provides uniform ways of preventing, controlling, and managing terrorism (Chalk, 2019). Even though nations agree that countering terrorism requires a well-formulated unified legal framework, the challenge arises from the differences among the countries on the legal principles. With recent increases in terrorism, consensus on the universal legal framework for counter-terrorism with global ratification is paramount (Falk, 2019). Concurrently, the United Nations has promoted treaties among the member states ensuring cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

The comprehensive universal legal framework ensures that the terrorists are brought to justice and that standardized rules are used in prosecutions. Increasing cooperation between member states and promoting cross-border prosecutions to fight terrorism requires respect for human rights and the judiciary’s autonomy (Febrica, 2019). As a result, mutual understanding in the formulation of the guiding principles and the framework is pertinent. For example, failure by the UN to agree on a universal definition of terrorism has resulted in the organization addressing terrorism through negotiations of different conventions that suppresses some acts and activities that are seen as terrorism.

The UK legally participates in European Union security and defense initiatives through Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), formerly known as the European Security and Defense Policy. Towards achievement of the objectives of the CSDP, member states pool funds and resources to achieve their primary goals, which include: crisis management, post-conflict stabilization, military advice and assistance, joint disarmament operations, conflict prevention, and peacekeeping and humanitarian and rescue missions (Angelucci & Isernia, 2020). As such, serious decisions on defense are made by the member states and not the EU. Therefore, any member can veto a decision, and unanimity among the member states will be required for implementation, and Brexit would not change that in any way.

Extremism and radicalization

Ideally, the aim of multinational approach in counter-terrorism is to combat extremism and violent behaviors emanating from radicalization of different groups in societies. Nations have different cultural, religious, and political beliefs. However, for the successful cooperation in fighting terrorism, there is a need to cooperate with the different cultures, religions, and political opinions to ensure mutual understanding. Violent extremism results from historical, economic, political, and social circumstances that generally place people from different states in divergent social, historical, economic, and political groupings making common understanding a challenge (Abbas, 2019). When the unions view member states through a standard lens on security matters, there shall be reduced chances of terrorism as the citizens from the member states will be part of the securitization and the implementation of the established security frameworks will be easy. Violent extremism and radicalization are significant challenges in attaining cooperation among the states threating the fight against terrorism.

Promoting Dialogue and Cooperation on Counter-Terrorism Issues and Verification of Foreigners

There is a requirement for member states to share information and evidence used in the court of law. Countries have struggled with securing criminal convictions against relocated foreign terrorist fighters. Essentially, securing evidence is a major challenge because it turns out to be a battlefield rather than a traditional crime issue where other countries withhold information about suspected terrorists. Sharing of information enables tailored prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration strategies through programs such as The Prevent Strategy to address radicalization in prisons (Dudenhoefer, 2018). Such practices aims at promoting communication and international relationships to ensure joint approach in the fight against terrorists.

Human Rights and Freedoms

There is a need to understand what human rights are. Human rights have to be understood in the context of their nature, the scope of it being international, and the nature of state obligations under human rights law. Terrorism destroys human rights, democracy, and the rule of law hence attacking the underlying values at the heart of the Charter of the United Nations (Shah, 2020). Concurrently, to counter terrorism, especially after the Brexit, the UK has The Prevent Strategy, the government’s initiative towards counter-terrorism. The Prevent Strategy is aimed at stopping people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism (Elshimi, 2017). The Home Office works with local authorities in coordination with government departments, community organizations to deliver this initiative. Furthermore, this initiative covers all forms of terrorism, from far-right extremism to aspects of non-violent extremism. The initiative ensures that no negative ideological aspects are spread, thus, providing rehabilitation for those who have been influenced by radicalization and involves other elements of the society in dealing with radicalization.

The UN has developed a Fact Sheet to strengthen and understand the complex and multifaceted relationship between human rights and terrorism. It is addressed to agencies concerned with the protection and promotion of human rights in the context of counter-terrorism and terrorism (Hansen et al., 2020). Remarkably, this Fact sheet aims to raise awareness on the impact of terrorism and counter-terrorism on the enjoyment of all human rights, providing a practical tool for practitioners to deal with terrorism and provide counter-terrorism measures and human rights (Merari, 2010). It also guides to ensure compliance with human rights when countering terrorism while also illustrating specific human rights challenges in counter-terrorism.

The Mass Proliferation of Mass Murder Weapons

There are different types of mass murder weapons produced mainly for defense purposes, and terrorists have access to this through the black market and use them to strike terror in the UK and its borders, leading to tension. Weapons can be in the form of biological, nuclear, and chemical (Ackerman, 2018). They are accessible even with the existing sanctions aimed at disarmament and arms trade control, primarily through the non-state actors. European countries like France and Belgium have seen an increase in the infiltration of weapons that have been used in terror attacks. Belgium is a hotspot for trade in the stocks of illegal armaments where some have been used to conduct terrorist attacks.

Terrorism Financing

The financing of terrorism activities is portrayed as a massive loophole and concern among counter-terrorism stakeholders because of the reigning lack of co-ordination and legislation ideals internationally. Moreover, there is a high ongoing cost of implementing the risk approach for private non-state actors in financial and non-financial institutions (Morse, 2019). According to Zali and Maulidi (2018), terrorism has been financed highly by existing money laundering schemes as facilitated by corruption and lack of integrity in the financial markets. Therefore, the implementation of international standards on a national level is categorized into failure to make operations and endorse international conventions; insufficient customer policies of identification within countries of income group; and government oversight to provide information, mutual legal assistance, and cooperation with national sectors those across borders.

Invalidating the need for foreigner verification

The evolving terrorism landscape presents a major challenge in counter-terrorism due to the mobility of individual perpetrators. The foreign terrorist fighters are immigrants who have avoided verification on the borders and ports through unscrupulous means. They play a significant role in creating and strengthening terrorist groups through radicalizing and recruiting terrorist networks (Rushchenko, 2019). Hence, the UK may find it difficult to critically assess which individuals pose a threat because of radicalization, recruitment, and creation of affiliate terrorism groups.

Security concerns with the European Union after Brexit

On June 23, 2016, the majority voted in a referendum to have UK exist in the European Union, which effectively the 43-year membership of the UK in the union. Furthermore, this has been viewed that its exit would negatively affect the ability of the UK to fight terrorism (Duke, 2019). Potential loss of influence and reduced engagement with Europol and other security agencies has been a factor. Another one is the UK would likely need to make its arrangements and protocols that involve exchanging information due to discontinued exchange and cooperation. There are also concerns about the access of European Union intelligence and loss of influence over its security agencies, especially in the international forums. Such challenges may derail the effectiveness of counter-terrorism approaches as nations engage in individualistic practices.


In summary, the UK’s exit from the European Union has been a new factor and challenge mainly towards national security and curbing terrorism. In essence, this concern has been addressed by its position in the NATO and UN to enable peace in the country. Challenges are primarily involved in cooperation and addressing radicalization and extremism, which is preventable if only the UK meets requirements meant by international bodies in addressing them. The counterterrorism efforts within the United Kingdom are primarily driven by international cooperation majorly with the European Union. The Common Security and Defense Policy is a program that enables the UK to work with the international community and the European Union in the fight against all forms of extremism within the country. However, Brexit has the potential of lowering the efficiency in UK ability to counter terrorism owing to severed relationships that it will have with the EU. At the same time, the counter-terrorism requirements tend to focus on behavioral modification to avert radicalization, which is often the root cause of terrorism in the world.


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