Paul Wilkinson (9 May 1937 – 11 August 2011) was Emeritus Professor of International Relations and former Director of the University of St Andrews Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence. He became a familiar presence as a commentator in the mainstream British media in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US.
Born in Harrow, Middlesex, Wilkinson was educated at John Lyon School in Harrow. He gained a BA in Modern History and Politics at University College, Swansea, followed by an MA.
After six years service as a regular Royal Air Force education officer he started his academic career at the University of Wales, Cardiff, as Assistant Lecturer in Politics, in 1966. He became Senior Lecturer and then Reader in Politics at Cardiff before being appointed to the first Chair in International Relations at the University of Aberdeen of 1979. His first book on terrorism, Political Terrorism was published in the key concepts in Political Science series in 1974.
In 1989 he was appointed to the first Chair in International Relations at the University of St Andrews. From 1989 to 1994 he was director of the Research Institute for the Study of Conflict and Terrorism.
During the 1997–98 academic year he was a Visiting Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is co-founder and was co-editor of the academic journal Terrorism and Political Violence 1989–2006, and directed a research project funded by the ESRC, on the preparedness of the UK for future terrorist attack. He served as Adviser to Lord Lloyd of Berwick's Inquiry into Legislation Against Terrorism, and authored vol. two, the Research Report for the Inquiry (1996).
Throughout his career, Wilkinson was a strong opponent of terrorism of all kinds. In his publications and contributions to the media he has consistently argued that the democtratic response to both domestic and international terrorism should always be guided by the Rule of Law. For example, he publicly opposed attempts to increase the period permitted to detain terrorism suspects without trial in the UK and condemned the Guantánamo detention camp project and other measures by the administration of US President George W. Bush that departed from basic Rule of Law Principles (see Terrorism Versus Democracy: The Liberal State Response, pp. 61–88).
He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours. Wilkinson died on 11 August 2011, aged 74. He advised the UK Government on terrorism.