Review of International Studies

Research Article

The other War on Terror revealed: global governmentality and the Financial Action Task Force’s campaign against terrorist financing



Despite initial fanfare surrounding its launch in the White House Rose Garden, the War on Terrorist Finances (WOTF) has thus far languished as a sideshow, in the shadows of military campaigns against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq. This neglect is unfortunate, for the WOTF reflects the other multilateral cooperative dimension of the US-led ‘war on terror’, quite contrary to conventional sweeping accusations of American unilateralism. Yet the existing academic literature has been confined mostly to niche specialist journals dedicated to technical, legalistic and financial regulatory aspects of the WOTF. Using the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as a case study, this article seeks to steer discussions on the WOTF onto a broader theoretical IR perspective. Building upon emerging academic works that extend Foucauldian ideas of governmentality to the global level, we examine the interwoven overlapping national, regional and global regulatory practices emerging against terrorist financing, and the implications for notions of government, regulation and sovereignty.


* The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Institute of International Integration Studies (IIIS) Trinity College Dublin, and the invaluable research assistance of Sonja Kopf. We would also like to thank anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this article.