U.S. Professors to Clinton: Respond to Boko Haram with Diplomacy, Development, and Demilitarization

Reposted from Dr. Carl Levan’s homepage.

Nigeria’s National Security Advisor is visiting Washington, D.C. this week, and Secretary Clinton has been under pressure from Republicans in the House of Representatives to formally designate Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).

The US-based academics, however, argue that formally labeling Boko Haram an FTO would “limit American policy options to those least likely to work.” In particular, it would:

  1. Internationalize Boko Haram’s standing and enhance its status among radical organizations elsewhere.
  2. Give disproportionate attention to counter-terrorism in bilateral relations at a time when economic ties are expanding and a robust multi-faceted relationship has emerged.
  3. Undermine Nigeria’s progress on the rule of law in two ways: First, by effectively legitimizing abuses by security services that Human Rights Watch and other organizations have drawn attention to as urgent, ongoing problems. Second, President Goodluck Jonathan is pushing the National Assembly for Martial Law. Historically, such measures have been followed by broader political instability.
  4. Impede humanitarian assistance and possibly independent academic research.

I was one of the letter’s initiators, along with Peter Lewis from SAIS and Jean Herskovits from SUNY – Purchase. I will be giving a brief talk on Boko Haram at a conference sponsored by the Jamestown Foundation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Tuesday, June 19, in Washington, DC.

To see a full version of the letter, with details on each point we made to the Secretary of State, click here (pdf).