Protecting American Security and Human Rights

Subject: Warfare
Pages: 14
Words: 3784
Reading time:
14 min
Study level: Undergraduate


The defense of human rights is neither a soft issue nor one that can be separated from the use of military force to defeat terrorists, for it is by defending human rights that the United States can expand the circle of security and prosperity and, with it, the international stability that is central to our national security. On Human Rights Day last year, President Bush pegged the war on terrorism to the defense of human rights when he said, “We are leading a coalition of more than 90 nations to defeat terror and to secure liberty and opportunity for people throughout the world. Our fight against oppression demonstrates our nation’s dedication to a future of hope and understanding for all people.”

Terrorism is not a principally innovative matter, nor is there anything innovative in the management propensity to justify oppressive policies by orientation to the radical jeopardy. Yet it is only in recent years, with the better balance and commonness of existing intimidation, that a maintained global center on safety has appeared.

The new global safety issues pose essential normative threats to the accessible human rights frames. Governments are progressively more discussing actions in the name of counter-terrorism that infringe basic human rights norms. Worldwide structures such as the UNO are not only weakening to obstruct such activities, but are in some ways heartening them. (Brysk, 2002)

An innermost apprehension is that now, more than in the past, it is not authoritarian countries but instead Western equalities that are contrasting human rights protections. Led by the USA, these states are threatening to supersede human rights agreements and nullify the gains that the human rights association has made in recent decades. How the human rights movement reacts to this confront will likely define the countryside of human rights for many years to come. (Forsythe, 2003)

Human Rights and Security

Governments are in some example using the so-called war on terror to further preexisting political and safety issues. Yet it would still be incorrect to discharge governments’ relations to terrorism as pre-textual. Granted, the Bush Administration used the threat of violence largely as a pretext when it settles on the invasion to Iraq. And former Attorney General John Ashcroft most surely took advantage of the Patriot Act to impeach telemarketers, pornographers, and others far further then the law’s planned scope.

But human rights organizations must still recognize that many of the security measures instituted by governments counter, though misguidedly, to very real risks. One might, therefore, restrict the matter facing human rights later as how to convince governments to strike a fair balance among human rights and safety.

A more productive advance would be to skill replies that exploit the probability of attaining both objectives, as in the end the defense of human rights improves human safety, rather than weakening it.

The USA today is sending mixed signals, defending human rights in some parts of the world while ignoring the abrogation of those rights in others.

At this year’s annual session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, the Bush administration broke with recent tradition and chose not to sponsor a resolution condemning human rights abuses in China; the administration also decided against supporting a resolution condemning Russian abuses in

The administration has not used its leadership to ensure that the imperatives of the “war against terrorism” are not manipulated by repressive regimes as the rationale for repression. Human Rights Watch reports that many countries have passed regressive anti-terrorism laws that threaten basic rights. According to Amnesty International’s 2003 Annual Report, “Exploiting the international climate favouring ‘counter-terrorism’, many governments reinforced and renewed their crack-down on political opponents and others whose loyalty they doubt, such as trade unionists, journalists, religious and racial minorities, and human rights defenders.”

President Bush recently said, “Tyranny is never benign to its victims, and our great democracies should oppose tyranny wherever it is found.” However, the president approved the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Equatorial Guinea, an oil-rich West African nation led by a man with a stunning record of torture and abuse who recently won a third, seven-year term by securing nearly 100 percent of the vote. According to government-run radio, “He can decide to kill without anyone calling him to account and without going to hell because it is God himself.” (Smith, 2005)

The administration’s singular focus on Iraq has allowed other human rights challenges to fall off the radar screen. The U.S. is seemingly turning a blind eye towards human rights violations in Russia, where a crackdown on political dissent, the independent media and civil society organizations was recently followed by flawed parliamentary elections that the Financial Times describes as a “serious defeat” for “the cause of political freedom in Russia.” In a side trip to Azerbaijan, Donald Rumsfeld discussed counterterrorism cooperation but, according to the Washington Post, “dodged questions about October’s disputed election,” which was followed by a violent crackdown on opposition forces. (Neuman, 2003)

At home the handling of the enemy combatants, the treatment of immigrants, and USA Patriot Act include measures that fail to honor our traditions of due process and respect for the law, and undermine individual rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration and other international agreements to which the United States is a party.

A Transformative Global Impact

The augmented danger of terrorism has significant consequences. As U.S. control and pressure are so dangerous in the enhancement of global institutions, associations and regulars – and as the U.S. has a shown readiness to damage global bodies such as the United Nations and the ICC that are distinguished as tiresome to U.S. goals–the shift in the U.S. approach, in fastidious, could have a potentially transformative worldwide influence.

Certainly, it is debatable that the new worldwide safety issues fronted by the U.S. pose the single most serious threat to the existing system of human rights defense.

Already, other administrations have tried to incorporate their own circumstances to the worldwide “war against terror.” In Colombia, Uzbekistan, Russia, China, and a number of other countries, guerrilla rebellions, separatist factions, and even non-aggressive dissenter actions are being marked by state administrations as revolutionary. Such tags are used to raid the aimed groups of legality, both nationally and allover the world, and to permit governments to recast their fights against these groups as counter-terrorism.

The danger of this inclination, from a human rights standpoint, is the presupposition that general human rights and gentle law restrictions are unwound in the struggle against violence. Evenly troublesome is the fact that such states are often affirmed in the hope of attracting U.S. maintenance, or at least of tempering U.S. censure of mistreatments. As during the Cold War, the United States seemed willing to make planned coalitions with little anxiety for individual rights prices.

The Bush administration has done an impressive job of showing the world what we’re against, but has been far less adept at showing the world what we’re for. Protecting and defending America’s security cannot be just about fighting evil or killing our enemies. It must also be about protecting and defending fundamental rights.

“The results of the current reveal deep pessimism about the state of national security,” John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, said yesterday at an event to release the second biannual, nonpartisan survey of foreign policy experts, created by the Center for American Progress and Foreign

Policy magazine. The Terrorism Index polls more than 100 top experts for their assessment of the war on terror and the state of U.S. national security. The Center for American Progress’ Distinguished Senior Fellow Tom Daschle moderated the event that brought together Reps. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) to discuss the survey’s findings and the current state of U.S. national security.“I certainly believe that it’s a much more dangerous world today,” Rep. Reyes said, responding to the finding that 81 percent of experts believe the world is getting more dangerous for the United States and the American people. (Gandois, 2006)

The bombings of the World Trade Center and the Oklahoma City federal building have indicated that terrorist assaults may occur wherever in the USA. All over the globe, slaughters, takeovers, and bombings of airliners are recurrent prompts of the terrorism danger. The use of toxic gas in the Tokyo underground has raised the ghost of even more horrifying types of assaults – comprising the use of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

By its origin, the term “terrorism” is connected with the political disagreement. It is a notion with a very unconstructive suggestion. As terrorism entails the murder and maiming of blameless people, any state wants to be blamed of maintaining terrorism or docking terrorist groups. Simultaneously, any state does not want what it regards to be a genuine use of force to be measured terrorism. An old phrase goes, “One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.”

Today, there is no generally accepted description of terrorism. States describe the term in accordance to their own convictions and to maintain their own nationwide attention. Global institutions, when they craft an explanation, do so in the interests of their member states. Researchers struggling to define terrorism are also matter to their own political positions of vision.

European states and the USA are inclined to describe terrorism intently, making sure that it only applies to acts of non-governmental institutions. For instance, Title 22 of the U.S. Code describes terror campaign as “deliberate, politically provoked hostility” against “non-military aims by sub-national groupings” usually with the goal to pressure an audience. (Neuman, 2003)

The U.S. Department of Defense uses a description that emphasizes another component of the Western concept of violence. Terrorism is “the planned use of aggression or the threat of violence to instill dread; meant to pressurize or to threaten governments or communities in the chase of aims that are usually political, spiritual, or ideological.” In other words, terrorism is aggression planned to proceed some reason by receiving an administration to change its guidelines or political activities.

Contrast these explanations with one shaped by Iranian spiritual researcher, Ayatulla Taskhiri in a work delivered at a 1987 worldwide terrorism meeting arranged by the Organization of the Islamic Conference. After a appraisal of Islamic bases concerning terrorism, Taskhiri explained it as follows: “Terrorism is an act carried out to attain a brutal and dishonest purpose and engaging threat to safety of any kind, and in infringement of the rights recognized by religious conviction and humanity.”

This is a broader explanation of intimidation. Under this classification, nations themselves could be accused of terrorism. Any cruel or dishonest objective coupled with an act that pressures refuge and rights despite of the inspiration could be regarded as terrorism. Later in his paper, Taskhiri blames the USAof being the “mother of worldwide terrorism” by coercing peoples, escalation despotic regimes, and maintaining the occupation of lands and savage assaults on resident regions. (Forsythe, 2003)

The USA would likely refuse this description and Taskhiri’s acuses and could point out that lots of countries according to this definition would also be accusable with terrorism. However, the description points out the wide bay in insights about what is terrorism and who is responsible of it.

Security in the regard of September 11

Terrorists attack America, which happened on September 11, 2001 included Highjacking of four planes. Terrorists flew two of them into the World Trade Center towers in New York and another into the Pentagon in Washington. The fourth plane was brought down in Pennsylvania prior to it attained its objective in Washington. Two days later, after attack, the White House classified the offenders as members of Al Qaeda, an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group, which bases in Afghanistan but with radical cells all aver the world. The hijackers were the members of the Al Qaeda radical cell acting in the United States. Nobody knew whether more terrorist assaults were possible.

The next day, the House of Representatives admitted the bill 357-66. The final bill included 342 pages and modified more than 15 existed laws. Most of the Justice Department’s suggestions were included into it, but some articles expired in 2005.

On October 26 2001, President George W. Bush included the Patriot Act into regulation. He admired the “new instruments to fight the current threat like no other American nation has ever experienced.” He also declared that the Patriot Act “supports and values the civil freedoms pledged by the US Constitution.”

The Patriot Act classifies “household terrorism” as actions within the US that include hazardous actions, which threaten human life that emerge to be deliberate:

  • to threaten civilians;
  • to impact the government by force, or threat of force or coercion;
  • to impact the behavior of a government by mass devastation, murder, or taking prisoners.

Some of the most contentious elements of the Patriot Act enclose matters of confidentiality and government observation. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution defends the “right of the citizens to be protected in their individuals, homes, mailing, against irrational investigates and assaults….” It necessitates law force officers to attain guarantees previous to performing most investigates. To get a deserve, officers must build confirmed arguments before a judge “mainly explaining the place to be hunted, and the individuals or objects to be captured.” The arbitrator may only subject an investigation guarantee if officers show “possible reason” that the individual is occupied in unlawful action. State law entails that officers report to the court on the consequences of the investigation. (Gandois, 2006)

Observations such as wiretaps and corporeal explorations oblige officers to prove “credible source” of criminality. Even before the Patriot Act, there were exemptions under national law.

One was for so-regarded “pen-trap” arranges. To attain from a phone company the numbers dialed to and from an exact number, officers must get a pen-guarantee order from an arbitrator. They do not require showing credible grounds, but must confirm that the data is necessary for a constant illegal investigation. The motive for the lesser order is that these evidences are far less invasive than wiretaps and objective investigations.

Human rights and security

Those who provide human rights are reasonably careful. In the performance of the September 11 assault, the Government partly dangled the right to freedom in order to permit the imprecise confinement without accuse of international terrorism suspects, most of them at Belmarsh jail. When the Law providers ruled that authority illegal on human rights bases in December 2004, the US Government initiated control arranges compelling solemn constraints on freedom without due procedure. It also strengthened attempts to expel international suspects at danger of torment grounded on unconvincing assures of humane treatment. Following the July 2005 explosions in London, the British Government ordained a new excessively wide “encouragement of terrorism” that weakens lawful free expression. And it expanded to 28 days the time deduces can be held in pre-charge imprisonment. (Neuman, 2003)

These advances do not just infringe human rights regulation. They are absolutely inefficient. They destabilize this country’s spiritual legality within the country, and over the boundaries, destructing its capability to succeed in the battle of notions that is key to long-term achievement in international terrorism. They grind down community reliance in law enforcement and defense services. And they disaffect societies whose collaboration is essential in the struggle against terrorism

It is time for a new advance, consistent with the Government’s new importance on hearts and minds, and regarding freedom while struggling against terrorism.

The first step is to take a hard look at the present counter-terrorism offers likely to create a new terrorism statement. Particularly, the Government should cancel its attempts to lengthen auxiliary the time that terrorism suspects can be arrested with no charge. Four alternatives are being regarded, but the clear favorite is a simple addition of the greatest time frames by which deduces must either be accused or released.

The offer is of an important risk of unfair comprehensive confinement. More than half of those seized under the Terrorism Act 2000 are released without accuse. Were custody further expanded, it is highly likely that terrorism suspects, most of them Muslims, would be held for comprehensive time and then released without accuse.

The fact that those arrested for more than 14 days are held at Belmarsh only adds to the harmful representation. There are options to expanding pre-charge custody, comprising expansion the power of the police force to require suspects after they are accused and relaxing the ban on interrupt confirmation. These alternatives should be completely discovered previous to considering a gauge with such dramatic results for the right to freedom. And the administration should appraise its counter-terrorism regulations and policies to guarantee their observance with individual rights legislation, starting with banishment with declarations, which put expects at real risk of torment.

Those who entrust terrorist massacres often hope to aggravate an over-reaction from governments – a leaving from the basic values upon which civilized community rests. (Smith, 2005)

It is time for the Government, with the help of Parliament, to prove the terrorists wrong and demonstrate that our basic rights are not to be set aside in the name of countering terrorism here in Britain.

Classifying the uniqueness of human safety is not simple. Beyond its connection with military safety, the expression of protection also summons the notion of community safety, particularly as it expanded in Western Europe. While public safety lacks the suggestion that we want as it is codified in the countrywide circumstance, it does have codified obligations and responsibilities. If the term “security” is used, it should be noted that social safety brings to mind what people are owed by the government. In this meaning it narrates to financial and communal rights. Also, there have been discuss and complaints since WWII in Europe as to what this ruling should be – it is bases for contestation. But, the inspiration of social refuge – which is the anticipation of want – is part of personal safety. So too is the concept of not being assaulted, on which the petition to nationwide safety relies. These relations are not companionable, not antagonistic.

One advance to endorsing human safety is to hearten the amalgamation of human safety components into the connected areas of human rights, human expansion, and nationwide protection. There has already been much association in this specialty, and heartening these trends might speed up taking of the human security pattern.

Encouraging an essential typical transformation, though, has significant strategic merits. For instance, human development is called so in order to state that expansion should not be imprisoned by monetary enlargement as reproduced by the GNP. In some means, this may be regarded as a challenging implement. It is desired that human security prevail, not just to connect current advances. Rather, we might judge historical superiority – the heaviness of institution and thought prototypes. Current associations (such as the UN Security Council) have incarcerated some of these but deserted others. A separate notion of human security is expensive in asserting some wished prices and plans and giving visibility to fallen matters.


The matter of counter-terrorism and human rights has drawn substantial interest since the statement of the Counter-Terrorism Committee in 2001. Security Council declaration 1373 (2001) makes one emphasis position to human corrections, calling upon States to “take suitable gauges in conventionality with the relevant stipulations of countrywide and worldwide law, comprising international averages of human rights, before giving refugee status, for the reason of guaranteeing that the asylum seeker has not planned, assisted or took part in the commission of terrorist acts.” In its introduction, the resolution also reiterates the necessity to battle by all denotes, according to the Charter of the United Nations, threats to global peace and security reasoned by terrorist acts.

The relations among counter-terrorism and human rights were further complicated in 2003 at a ministerial-level meeting of the Security Council. In a declaration seized to declaration 1456 (2003), the Council announced that “States must guarantee that any measures taken to struggle terrorism comply with all their compulsions under worldwide law, and should adopt such calculates according to international law, in scrupulous worldwide human rights, refugee, and humanitarian law. This position has been reaffirmed in successive Security Council resolutions relating violence and in the 2005 World Summit Outcome paper.

In its resolution 1624 (2005), adopted by Heads of State and Government at a meeting of the Security Council during the Summit, the 15-member body pressured that “States must guarantee that any measures taken to implement paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of this declaration comply with all of their requirements under worldwide law, in fastidious worldwide individual rights law, immigrant law, and humanitarian law.”

The Committee’s strategy on human rights was articulated by its first Chair in a conference to the Security Council on 18 January 2002: “The Counter-Terrorism Committee is commanded to monitor the completion of resolution 1373 (2001). Monitoring performance against other international conventions, including human rights law, is outside the scope of the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s authorization. But it remained aware of the announcement with individual rights anxieties. It is, of course, open to other associations to study States’ reports and take up their content in other meetings.”

At that juncture, United Nations Secretary-General told the Council, that it is necessary to be clear that there is no trade-off between effective action alongside violence and the fortification of human rights. Quite the opposite, is the belief that in the long term humanity shall implement that human rights, along with democratic systems and communal fairness, are one of the best prophylactics alongside terrorism. Surely, the defense of human rights is not mainly the blame of this Council – it belongs to other UN institutions, whose work you do not need to reproduce. But there is a necessity to bear in mind the expertise of those institutions, and make sure that the measures you adopt do not unduly curtail human rights, or give others a pretext to do so.”

In its resolution 1535 (2004), the Security Council endorsed a renewal of the Committee through the organization of a Counter-Terrorism Committee managerial Directorate (CTED). In the renaissance plan, it was imagined that CTED would “liaise with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other human rights institutions in matters connected with counter-terrorism.”

The Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) has presented notes to the Committee on the personal rights compulsions of States in the circumstance of counter-terrorism and has issued a Digest of Jurisprudence of the United Nations and Regional Organizations on the security of Human Rights While Countering Terrorism. In October 2005, the Committee was briefed by the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the defence of human rights and primary freedoms while opposing terrorism.


Brysk, A. (Ed.). (2002). Globalization and Human Rights. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Forsythe, D. P. & McMahon, P. C. (Eds.). (2003). Human Rights and Diversity: Area Studies Revisited. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Gandois, H. (2006). Democracy as Human Rights: Freedom and Equality in the Age of Globalization. Ethics & International Affairs, 20(2), 267.

Neuman, G. L. (2003). Human Rights and Constitutional Rights: Harmony and Dissonance. Stanford Law Review, 55(5), 1863.

Smith, G. P. (2005). Human Rights and Bioethics: Formulating a Universal Right to Health, Health Care, or Health Protection?. Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, 38(5), 1295.