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Exceptionalism Again: The Bush Administration, the “Global War on Terror” and Human Rights


When former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, gave his farewell address in December 2006, he expressed his dismay at the Bush administration's conduct during its anti-terrorist campaign. The United States had given up its vanguard role in the promotion of human rights, he averred, and appeared to have abandoned its ideals and principles. There have been many statements similar to this one made in the period since September 2001. Even close allies, such as the British government, for example, have called for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility on the grounds that, as a symbol of injustice, it had tarnished the United States as a “beacon of freedom, liberty and justice.”

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Rosemary Foot , “Torture: The Struggle over a Peremptory Norm in a Counter-Terrorist Era,” International Relations 20.2 (2006): 131–51

Rosemary Foot , “The United Nations, Counter-Terrorism, and Human Rights: Institutional Adaptation and Embedded Ideas,” Human Rights Quarterly 29.2 (March 2007): 489514.

Steven C. Poe , C. Neal Tate , and Linda Camp Keith , “Repression of the Human Right to Personal Integrity Revisited: A Global Cross-National Study Covering the Years 1976-1993,” International Studies Quarterly 43.2 (1999): 291313.

Audrey Kurth Cronin , “How al-Qaida Ends: The Decline and Demise of Terrorist Groups,” International Security 31.1 (Summer 2006): 7, 39, and 4647.

Elizabeth Borgwardt , A New Deal for the World: America's Vision for Human Rights (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2005), Intro. and chap. 1.

Foot, “Human Rights in Conflict,” Survival 48.3 (Autumn 2006): esp. 115–19.

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Law and History Review
  • ISSN: 0738-2480
  • EISSN: 1939-9022
  • URL: /core/journals/law-and-history-review
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