Review of International Studies

Research Article

Compliance among weak states: Africa and the counter-terrorism regime



This article examines levels of compliance with the counter-terrorism regime in Africa, where weak states might have been expected to conform. Instead, even under American pressure, some governments have seized the anti-terrorism rhetoric while others have been more reluctant. A comparative analysis of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda demonstrates that domestic political factors largely explain this variation; compliance is highest in countries with the least democratic institutions and minimal mobilisation of domestic constituencies. Aid dependence and the perception of a terrorist threat also play a role. To the extent that popular pressures in transitional democracies reduce compliance, the article raises questions about the legitimacy and effectiveness of the counter-terrorism regime.

Beth Elise Whitaker is an Associate Professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her research focuses on African international relations, with emphases on refugee migration issues and the politics of counter-terrorism. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Kenya in 2005–2006 and previously conducted field research in Tanzania (1996–1998, 2003) and Botswana (2005). Her articles have appeared in International Affairs, International Studies Perspectives, Global Governance, Third World Quarterly, and African Studies Review, among others.