3. Counter-Terrorism Strategies Reveal the Limits of Human Rights as a Cosmopolitan Discourse in the Age of Global Terror. Discuss.

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Since the start of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, human rights were introduced as a system that exceeded any boundaries, such as religion, gender, ethnicity and nationality, in order to protect each individual. It was an attempt to universalize human standards of decency, morality and dignity, by way of constructing a global human community. It is through this that human rights were able to be changed and recognised as a standard for global order, regulated through international law. The act of terrorism is not a new concept, and has been responsible for many innocent lives over many years, however not until the attacks on the United States, known as 9/11, has terrorism become such a globalized issue. It was through the symbolic destruction of capitalism, coupled with the vast media outlets to create witnesses that allowed for Western society to face a new threat of vulnerability. The mass production of human rights violations aimed at such a seemingly powerful Western country induced a culture of fear, specifically regarding the weaknesses in national security. Terrorism, national security, and war became the dominant dialogue throughout international politics, and governments began to develop counter-terrorism legislation in order to enhance feelings of safety and security, but also to seek retribution against terrorist groups. It is through this introduction of new counter-terrorism legislation that allows the expectations of human rights protection to become confused, as state security becomes the prime concern. This new legislation becomes a shield to hide behind when human rights violations are committed, allowing the state to use the premise of counter terrorism as a justification for neglecting what was previously an internationally standardized notion of human rights protection. It then becomes a paradoxical debate of violation and protection, where policies designed to protect society from these human rights violations, not only affect the terrorists whom they are aimed at, but start to affect the people who’s rights they aim to protect. Where the notion of human rights is concerned in protecting the individual, counter-terrorism in the age of global terror re-employs these boundaries between the individual in the interest of the state, and disregards human rights. Pojman (2006) states that terrorism is a type of violence employed to deliberately target non-combatants in a ruthlessly destructive and often random manner in order to support concrete political or religious objectives. Because of its random nature, the act of terrorism destabilizes any notion of a human rights system by allowing each individual to be susceptible to its effects. Denying one their right to life is depriving them of their most fundamental human right. According to Anthony Giddens (in Pojman), the difference between what he labels as “old-terrorism” and “new-terrorism” lies in its locality in geographical terms, where the first is concerned with nationalist ideology and remained local, and the latter is focused on its global implementation (2006). September 11th became the poster for this “new-terrorism”, bringing with it the stark realisation that Western Society was not impervious to terrorist regimes. The vulnerability of the United States seemed not to have been considered previously, and the mass murder evoked an intense culture of fear amongst the people, only to be further manipulated by the media, causing governments to strike with new legislation. The notion of prevention was a strong instigator for new strategies, where the state intended to seek out terrorist activity before it happened. Terrorism uncovers the limits of the human rights system in achieving universal consensus. However the authority of rights is more so undermined when counter-terrorist acts violate these moral principles in the constant pursuit of their re-avouchment. Under the title of counter-terrorism, democratically defined countries...
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