Terrorist Kidnap for Ransom: a policy dilemma by Anja Shortland (Kings College, London)

  • Seminar Room G, Manor Road Building OX1 3UQ

Criminal kidnap for ransom is a surprisingly orderly business, considering that the transaction partners are randomly snatched for a one-off transaction without legal redress if either party defaults on the agreed terms. Fatal violence is rare, hostages are usually returned on payment of the ransom and prices are generally low and stable over time. This talk will examine the informal institutions governing this criminal market. Anja Shortland will argue that a group of specialty insurers underwriting at Lloyd’s of London stabilise the market and order transactions.  The repeated interaction between insurers and kidnappers and the excellent information flow between syndicates at Lloyd’s creates the necessary “shadow of the future” for the market to operate smoothly. She will contrast this with government-led hostage negotiations, where premium ransoms are paid to “terrorists” and draw some policy conclusions.

 Anja Shortland (MEng, Oxon; MSc & PhD International Relations, LSE) is Reader in Political Economy at King’s College, London. Her main research interest is in the political economy of conflict and crime. She pioneered the use of satellite imagery in the economic analysis of conflict where terrestrial data collection is unreliable or impossible. In 2012/13 she worked as a consultant to the World Bank on the issue of land-based responses to Somali Piracy. Recently she has published in The British Journal of Criminology, Political Studies and the Journal of Peace Research.

This event is open to the public and a light lunch will be served outside the seminar room at 12.50pm