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15 - Resisting panic: lessons about the role of human rights during the long decade after 9/11

from Part IV - Pressures

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2012

Conor Gearty
Affiliation:
London School of Economics and Political Science
Costas Douzinas
Affiliation:
Birkbeck College, University of London
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Summary

What the world has seen since the atrocious terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, and the counter-terrorism measures states have taken by way of their response, can be characterised as the worst-ever backlash against the promotion and protection of human rights since their post-Second World War emergence in the UN Charter (1945) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1948). In this sense, the ‘long decade’ has meant the winding back of the clock by sixty years. As many of the challenges posed by states in relation to the normative code of legally binding human rights relate to what was a major achievement in 1976, namely the entry into force as legally binding international treaties of the twin Covenants, one could equally well say that in legal terms the reversal that began in 2001 was of twenty-five years of human rights protection. But if we focus on practices that have reduced the human person to a mere means, such as in the idea of torturing one individual in the expectation of a benefit to a large group of persons, we can speak instead about turning back the clock by 200 years, to times before the wide approval of Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy with its imperative of treating every human being as an end in him- or herself.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2012

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References

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