Response to ‘An Open Letter to the Institute for Economics & Peace’  

The Institute for Economics & Peace responds to an open letter regarding its recent Global Terrorism report.

We have recently been contacted regarding concerns arising from Myanmar’s listing in the 2022 Global Terrorism Index. This letter is a response to your article dated 11 May 2022, titled ‘An Open Letter to the Institute for Economics & Peace.’

IEP welcomes feedback and we are open to receiving critiques of our research. This is demonstrated by our actions in the amendment of the report, and the public statement issued prior to receiving the open letter: Statement regarding Myanmar & the Global Terrorism Index – Vision of Humanity. 

Having now received the open letter, we feel several of the characterisations deserve the right of reply. 

IEP is an internationally respected not-for-profit organisation. Our aim is to understand the drivers and the economic benefits of peace, and our research is highly regarded by many of the leading institutions in the world. IEP’s work on peace is cited in thousands of courses, and we train many thousands each month through our online academies and in-person workshops. 

Throughout IEP’s history, we have been engaged in both developmental aid and peacebuilding projects in Myanmar. IEP and its key personnel have been involved in Myanmar for over twenty years, and currently has several projects with which it is actively engaged in, including water, education and peacebuilding training. 

The Global Terrorism Index 

One critique of the 2022 Global Terrorism Index has been the perceived failure to address acts perpetrated by the junta. The Global Terrorism Index, since its inception, has always excluded acts of state-sponsored terror. IEP covers state-sponsored terror in its other reports.

We acknowledge that the classification of acts of terrorism is a difficult and sensitive topic. There are a variety of perceptions toward the definition of terrorism. Many acts that could be considered legitimate acts of war can become unclear, depending upon the circumstances of a particular attack. For example, attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq on US soldiers are considered terrorism under certain circumstances by sources other than IEP.  

IEP’s approach to this is to draw on credible data sources, and to align with the coding of these sources. In the case of specific attacks mentioned in the open letter, these were codified as terror attacks at the time of writing. However, after constructive discussions from proactive members of the community, the decision was made to remove these from the report.

IEP’s response

When the initial concerns were raised, IEP engaged with a number of external experts who constructively worked with us to assess the issues and decide on an appropriate action. None of these individuals signed the open letter. It is from these discussions that we took the decision to amend the Global Terrorism Index and issue a public statement. 

It was only after we had taken this action that we received the open letter. Given our willingness to engage, we are disappointed that we were not contacted before the letter was written. At the point of sharing, our response was public and should have been acknowledged. 

Given this, we feel that the open letter process could have been conducted in a far more peaceful way. What is particularly disappointing is that out of the hundred signatories, only one individual contacted IEP prior to the publishing of the letter. 

In conclusion

The issues surrounding Myanmar are deeply sensitive. We carefully considered the concerns raised and redacted Myanmar from the 2022 Global Terrorism Index. 

We fail to see how this open letter has contributed towards constructive dialogue. We should surely all be working towards the same goal around these issues, and seeking to create meaningful change in the world. 

Yours sincerely, 

Institute for Economics & Peace