The Duty to Comply with Human Rights while countering terrorism

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Terrorism and Human Rights
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COUNTER-TERRORISM & HUMAN RIGHTS
The duty to comply with Human Rights while countering terrorism

Introduction

Since the end of the Second World War, and the Cold War, terrorism has been one of the main issues of the international community. Not only has terrorism been perceived as a threat to the peace and the security, but also, an aggression of the fundamental rights and to the democracy.

Following the 9/11 attacks, which have shaken the civilized world to its core foundations, the fight against terrorism became even more significant. The Security Council, in 2001, has adopted the Resolution 13731 (which is indicative of the importance of this issue). This resolution constitutes a general framework of the international campaign against terrorism, by defining all the measures that can actually be done to fight against it and by declaring the necessity to fight against terrorism by all “legal” mean. Therefore, the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee has also been established2. De facto, with a general framework and an institutional framework, nothing could possibly prevent States in fighting terrorism under the aegis of the United Nations. However, if the Resolution claims to fight against terrorism, it does not define it, which is not surprising knowing that before the resolution, over 12 different conventions about terrorism, have not been able to give a definition. The international community has never solved that issue, and nobody succeed in getting everyone agreed on the legal definition of “terrorism”.

The Human Rights culture is also another important concern for the international community. Indeed, the relationship between terrorism and human rights became more important since 9/11. The importance of the debate between Human Rights and the fight against terrorism is a great concern for democratic states. Democracy means that Human Rights and the fundamental freedoms are respected, promoted and fulfilled by the government, which then allows people to live with dignity. It particularly provides protection and security. These rights, or “values” are expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights3 and further developed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.4 Terrorism acts deeply reconsiders the right to life, peace and security. Consequently, for that reason, terrorism has to be fought with firmness.

However, if international legislation is used as a framework in order to counter terrorism, one might wonder if States have a duty to comply with Human Rights while countering terrorism.

The answer is not that simple, there is indeed on the one hand the international law theory which states that States do have a duty to comply with Human Rights while countering terrorism, nonetheless, and on the other hand, the application of this international law by the States. Unfortunately, researches, studies and law cases, indicate a massive gap between the theory and the practice.

Chapter I: Counter-terrorism and Human Rights:
The legal international framework

A. Counter-terrorism

Terrorism post-2001: an international issue

Following the 9/11 attacks, which have shaken the civilized world, the Security Council, has adopted the Resolution 1373.5 This resolution constitutes a general framework of the international campaign against terrorism, by defining all the measures that can actually be done to fight against it and by declaring the necessity to fight against terrorism by all “legal” means. Therefore, the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee has also been established.6 However, if the resolution claims to fight against terrorism, it does not define it. The international community has never solved that issue, and nobody succeed in getting everyone agreed on the legal definition of “terrorism”....
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