New Report on Mental Health and the Foreign Fighter Phenomenon: A Case Study of The Netherlands

About the author(s):

Katharine Fortin is an Associate Professor at Utrecht University where she teaches IHL and IHRL. Before joining Utrecht University, she worked at the ICTY, ICC and Norton Rose Fulbright. She is the author of The Accountability of Armed Groups under Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 2017) which won the 2018 Lieber Prize. She has written widely about the framework of law that applies to armed groups in non-international armed conflicts and is one of the editors of the Armed Groups and International Law blog.

Title of Report on Mental Health and FFThis new report from the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism explores the suggested link between radicalisation, the foreign fighter phenomenon, terrorism and mental health problems, taking the situation in the Netherlands as a case study. After an initial mapping of the suggested link, including the presentation of new numbers, the report presents research exploring the causes and mechanisms of radicalisation in relation to mental health issues in more detail. In particular, the social defeat hypothesis, addressing dopamine disturbance due to social exclusion, is discussed in relation to radicalisation. The paper subsequently examines possible responses and looks at some preliminary thoughts as well as concrete ideas, both more long-term and more short-term focused. Finally, the report offers a few thoughts on the way forward.

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