Four major socioeconomic factors correlate significantly with the cultivation of extremism in developing nations: youth unemployment, militarization, levels of criminality, access to weapons and corruption.

These factors strengthen the four drivers of radicalization that arise in developed countries: historic conflict, corruption, acceptance of human rights and the marginalization of groups.

Two major categories of socioeconomic conditions that lead to extremism include relative deprivation and general corruption. These ideas largely capture the four elements that are common among both developing and developed nations where radicalization is most common.

Relative Deprivation
Relative deprivation is the discrepancy between individuals’ expectations of justice and the state and an opposing reality and is a precursor to radicalization.

Kartika Bhatia and Hafez Ghanem argue that unemployment and underemployment can increase the likelihood of violent extremism, explaining the positive relationship between relative deprivation and radicalization. Furthermore, those with secondary educations who are unemployed or underemployed have the highest risk of becoming radicalized.

The Global Terrorism Index discloses that those who move to Syria to become an ISIL foreign fighter experience relative deprivation in that they typically have high educations but low incomes.

Corruption
According to the Global Terrorism Index, acts of terror between 1989 and 2014, “93 percent of all terrorist attacks occurred in countries with state-sponsored terror including extra-judicial deaths, torture and imprisonment without trial” versus only 0.5 percent of countries not experiencing political terror suffering from internal terrorist acts.

Poor socioeconomic conditions like widespread poverty can lead to political instability that reinforces antidemocratic values and the disenfranchisement of citizens. This reciprocal relationship between poor socioeconomic circumstances and corruption negatively influence one another, both factors swelling each other’s occurrence.

The report also notes that “when group grievances against the state are high, and the opportunity cost of joining a rebellion is low, groups are most likely to form”.

Today and the Future
Despite it all, there is good news. In 2016, the number of terrorist attacks and deaths from the attacks have both declined by 10 percent.

A decrease in the number of instances is significant and certainly good news. But getting to the root of what is causing radicalization is the best strategy to ameliorate the socioeconomic conditions that lead to extremism in general.

The creation of anti-corruption measures is being enforced globally. The United Nations Convention Against Corruption recognizes the destructive effects that corruption has on citizens. Postulating corruption as a global issue, the convention proposes a set of regulations that fights to eliminate corruption both before and after it occurs.

Matthew Murray, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, takes the position that freedom from official corruption is a human right and international law should reflect that.

The legal advocacy of recognizing corruption as a crime against human rights is a fundamental step toward global initiatives that will combat corruption preying on vulnerable nations.

Sloan Bousselaire

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