Bargaining with 'Terrorists': The Hostage Dilemma" - Congratulations to Etienne Dignat on the Successful Defense of His Doctoral Dissertation!

November 26, 2021

Alliance would like to congratulate Etienne Dignat for successfully defending his doctoral dissertation at Sciences Po on November 26, 2021!

Etienne Dignat received an Alliance Doctoral Mobility grant for call 2018 and he completed his research stay at Columbia University under the supervision of Professor Michael Doyle. During his Alliance sponsored research stay, Etienne conducted research towards his thesis entitled:  "Bargaining with 'Terrorists': The Hostage Dilemma" ("Otages, doit-on négocier avec les "terroristes?"") under the supervision of Professor Ariel Colonomos (Sciences Po) and Professor Michaël Ignatieff (CEU).

This thesis focuses on abductions carried out by terrorist organizations in order to examine the ethical and political issues of the “hostage dilemma” — to pay or not to pay?

Building on a “pragmatic” political theory and interviews conducted in seven countries (Colombia, Ecuador, France, Israel, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States), it studies the response of governments and focuses on the difficult choice to be made between granting ransoms and remaining firm in the face of blackmail. 

Through a dialectical perspective, it tackles three models (“solidaristic”, “sacrificial”, “responsabilizing”) of conceiving the relationship between the rights of individuals and the states’ interests, but also of considering the exercise of sovereignty. 

This research helps reconsider what the responsibilities of a modern state toward its own citizens retained abroad should be. It provides grounds for a critique of current practices and explores the most promising avenues for challenging this phenomenon.