Bennoune, Karima. 2008. “Terror/Torture.” Berkeley Journal of International Law 26 (1): 1-61.

Author: Karima Bennoune


In the face of terrorism, human rights law’s requirement that states “respect and ensure” rights necessitates that states take active steps to safeguard their populations from violent attack, but in so doing do not violate rights. Security experts usually emphasize the aspect of ensuring rights while human rights advocates largely focus on respecting rights. The trick, which neither side in the debate has adequately referenced, is that states have to do both at the same time. In contrast to these largely one-sides approaches, adopting a radical universalist stance, this Article argues that both contemporary human rights and security discourses on terrorism must be broadened and renewed. This renewal must be informed by the understanding that international human rights law protects the individual both from terrorism and the excesses of counter-terrorism, like torture. To develop this thesis, the Article explores the philosophical overlap between both terrorism and torture and their normative prohibitions. By postulating new discourses around the paradigm of terror/torture, it begins the project of creating a new human rights approach to terrorism.

Topics: International Law, International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Rights, Human Rights, Security, Human Security, Terrorism, Torture

Year: 2008

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