The overall purpose of the study is to analyze the relationship between human rights and terrorism. Human rights are entitled to all persons by virtue of being alive. Human rights are indivisible, alienable, non – discriminatory, universal, and interconnected. Terrorism leads to violation of human rights due as it targets civilians in the pursuit of an ideology. The literature used is primarily based on peer-reviewed journal articles accessible in public databases such as JSTOR and Google Scholar. Qualitative research methods were used to understand causes, opinions, trends and develop a hypothesis. The articles’ literature review relied upon adequate data and information on human rights and the effects of terrorism on human rights. The research’s main findings were that counter-terrorism strategies also impede basic human rights such as the right to privacy and the right to life. There is also a relationship between political conflicts that escalate into terrorist acts as the underlying factor is normally the abandonment of bilateral talks between warring factions. The upholding of human rights is directly proportional to peace worldwide through amicably resolving ideological differences.
Human Rights and Terrorism Outline
This section deals with the universal upholding of human rights to which each person worldwide is entitled. The modern human rights era can be traced to struggles to end slavery, genocide, discrimination, and government oppression. These efforts led to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) development, which was adopted in 1948, three years after the end of the second world war. Terrorism is incorporated in an insurgency where one group seeks violent interventions to achieve their ideals. The section also deals with factors that lead to the escalation of violence and elements that push individuals to endorse terrorist acts.
Human rights are the rights and freedoms to which every person in the world is entitled by virtue of being alive. The fundamental assumption is that each person is a rational and moral being who deserves to be treated with dignity, fairness, equality, and respect. Human rights are universal without consideration, where everyone is born free and equal thus possesses the same rights regardless of living standards, cultural or ethnic background. Human rights are also intrinsic and non-discriminatory to all persons regardless of nationality, religion, language, sex, or any other status. Human rights are also inalienable where a person cannot lose them temporarily or permanently by voluntarily giving them up (Donnelly, 2013). However, in cases where one is found guilty by a court of law, the right to liberty is limited. Human rights are interconnected as the fulfillment of one right cannot be had without realizing the other rights. Human rights are also indivisible. All human rights have equal status thus cannot be subject to the hierarchical order. Denial of one right impedes the enjoyment of other rights. Human rights range from the most fundamental to those that improve the quality of life of citizens. Human rights also aspire to protect people from critical political, legal, and social abuses.
Human rights are also part of international law relative to treaties and declarations that state-specific rights that countries are required to uphold. Atrocities during World War II showcased the inadequacy of protection of individual rights from government violations. This led to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) birth as part of the emergence of the United Nations (UN). The UDHR was the first legal document to set out the fundamental human rights and freedoms to be universally protected. The declaration was ratified without opposition by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948, in Paris.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The advantages of UDHR include; setting the standard for human rights internationally. The legal document creates an international standard of human rights and establishes implied rights. It also allows the development of human rights as well as enhancing international peace and stability. UDHR also promotes equality by setting standards that eliminates discrimination among people from different walks of life. It provides a benchmark that helps judge governments accused of human rights violations since there is a legal procedure for checks and balances. The declaration emphasizes citizens’ rights to participate in government projects such as a country’s modernization project. UDHR entails 30 articles that provide the building blocks for current and future human rights treaties, conventions, and legal instruments. The greatest criticism of the document is that it is not legally binding. UDHR is not a treaty but an ideal that lacks any concrete framework for achieving the goals (Margulies, 2013). There is no means to monitor progress or provide support for the implementation of the ideals. It is thus optional to follow the UDHR doctrines. The consequences of violations of human rights in the UDHR are minimal due to reduced accountability. The document is western biased as some less developed countries cannot follow the laws to the latter, such as the right to an education. Besides, cultural differences such as religion led to some people not following all the rules.
Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism, and Insurgency
Terrorism refers to acts of violence that target civilians in pursuit of ideological or political purposes, leading to creating a state of terror in the general public. Terrorism can either be international or domestic. The generation of widespread fear is done through high-profile attacks and dramatic, violent acts such as suicide bombings, hijackings, kidnappings, hostage-taking, and car bombings. The goal of terrorism is to instill a sense of insecurity among the population in places most familiar to them and with high citizen frequency, such as trains and shopping centers. Counterintelligence refers to measures and strategies that government agencies, military, and law enforcement implement to avert a terrorist attack. Insurgency refers to an armed uprising that unites groups of people around political grievances and seeks to challenge an established legitimate government (Zech & Gabbay, 2016). Insurgency movements are often pitted against a materially superior ruling power, thus resort to guerilla tactics to achieve their objection of capturing the state and radical social transformations. The movements harness feelings of exclusion, insecurity, and discrimination to push their agenda.
Ordered Liberty, Conflict Escalation and development of Terrorism
Ordered liberty refers to the condition in which public order and personal liberty are maintained such that one does not dominate over the other. The situation is set forth by two challenges; at what point should individual rights be limited to protect public order? At what point should the power of government be limited to protect individual rights? Ordered liberty helps determine the provision of the bill of rights to be upheld through the due process clause of the 14th amendment. Conflict escalation refers to the increment of intensity and severity of tactics used to pursue an idea. Conflict escalation happens when both parties feel cornered into roles where there is no immediate room for escape. Conditions that lead to conflict escalation include; incompatibility of goals and identity issues. The emergence of incompatible goals between adversaries where there is no possibility of a mutual agreement leads to both parties pursuing their interests through violence (Wilkinson, 2011). There are political differences that cannot be compromised as its integral to the identity of groups. Threats to the identity of the ideologies of a group escalate political conflicts. The psychology of why people initiate terrorism is marked by theory and opinions. There are many underlying factors as to why people initiate terrorism. Some individuals view it as a form of asymmetric warfare. One group is vastly superior in terms of military prowess, thus turning to terrorism to directly force the group to agree to their demands. Others initiate terrorism to get attention inclined to political support, inspire revolutionary acts through propaganda, and indirectly inspire individuals to the cause by provoking an overreaction from the adversary.
The intersection of Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism Outline
For most of the current century, countering terrorism has been at the forefront of democracies’ foreign policy priorities. This has coincided with human rights’ growth as a fundamental feature of such democracies as the US. However, there is often tension between fighting terrorism and respecting human rights. The normal view is that counter-terrorism measures should be compatible with international law, such as international human rights law, international refugee law, and international humanitarian law (Herik, van den Herik, & Schrijver, 2013). Besides, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms reinforces effective counter-terrorism measures. Increasingly, states recognize that human rights violations breed frustrations that develop conducive conditions to the production of violent extremism and terrorism. The intersection of human rights and counter-terrorism measures can be analyzed through the lenses of the aftermath of the 9/11 incident, the Islamic State, and the revolutionary technological changes influencing the new breed of counter-terrorism measures. The research question deals with the best way to integrate counter-terrorism approaches and the upholding of human rights.
Right to Fair Trial
The first change was the alterations made to the approach the government took on captured terrorists. The prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman treatment is absolute under the international law of human rights. However, several counter-terrorism measures challenge the upholding of human rights, such as unlawful detention at Guantanamo Bay and black sites used for interrogation. The Bush Administration asserted the right to detain and hold terrorists’ belligerents without trial or even military commission in line with the military’s traditional authority to hold prisoners in wartime (Gaines & Kappeler, 2019). In rare cases, captured terrorists were pushed into the US criminal justice system. Therefore, terrorists would be tried, sentenced, and jailed in the US court system. The Guantanamo and black sites prison network’s implementation were to ensure that inmates had no rights except ones accorded by the captors. The US described the prisoners as unlawful enemy combatants thus withheld all their rights. The prisoners were tortured through waterboarding to extract information. Extraction of information through torture is prohibited, as is the use of the evidence in legal proceedings.
Right to Privacy Involving Mass Surveillance
The second issue is the infringement of the right to privacy through the use of mass surveillance measures. A crucial agency established was The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). This agency is responsible for national and international counter-terrorism prevention. The agency can intercept and monitor communications made on landline and mobile gadgets internationally and domestically to assess potential threats, generate actionable information to potentially prevent criminal acts domestically, store terrorism information, and coordinate counter-terrorism activities (Bloy & Peters, 2017). Technological improvements have also enabled law enforcement agencies to monitor online activities, read text messages, penetrate databases and cloud facilities to capture information stored on the devices. Agencies use the information to uncover motives and identify possible preventative measures that may be taken to deter future terrorism. The question is whether civilians are part of the datamining program. Mass surveillance raises the question of the right to privacy since counter-terrorism agencies can also scan social media for potential threats, infringing on many civilians’ rights. The extended state surveillance powers have raised important human rights concerns whether the state is protecting their society’s fundamental human rights.
Right to Freedom of Speech
Modern terrorist attacks demonstrate the evolution of the terror mindset and their ability to embrace technological innovations to pursue their ideology. This has been heightened by the use of social media as recruitment centers for radicalization. This technique leads to the tension between freedom of speech and prohibitions of incitement to terrorism, particularly in the internet age. This breeds the limits one can say in social posts that exclude one from being listed as a potential extremist. The most recent incident involving freedom of speech against counter-terrorism measures involves Anjem Choudary, the de facto leader of the banned al- Muhajiroun, responsible for inciting 100 Britons to join the Islamic State Iraq and Syria. He praised the 9/11 perpetrators and called for the support of IS. Freedom of speech is limited in two circumstances; for the protection of national interests and respect of others’ rights. Therefore, extremist information posted on social pages is considered a national interest, thus overriding the freedom of speech. Here, agencies have a right to censorship through arrest and detention.
Right to Life
Additionally, contemporary war has changed due to the technological enhancement of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. Drone strikes have been extensively used against Al Qaeda and Taliban groups within Libya, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, leading to growth in civilian casualties and extrajudicial killings among suspected militants. The use of armed drones against terrorists has raised issues regarding international humanitarian and international human rights law, specifically the right to life. In 2019, approximately 32% of those killed by US drones in Pakistan were civilians. Between 2004 to 2014, about 200 children were killed through drone attacks (Mahmood & Jetter, 2019). The US uses drones for targeted killings and signature strikes, such as the drone strike that killed Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani in 2019. There is no identification method used, and the assailants are denied a fair and public hearing. Drone strikes have also negatively impacted human rights such as freedom of assembly and religion since most strikes target groups of people. The state has the right to take someone’s life if an individual poses an imminent danger to another person’s life and if other non-lethal measures are limited. Therefore, with drones, it is hard to determine the standards used to identify a legal threat. The use of drones has dehumanized terrorism as there is a thin line separating the permitted uses of force and extrajudicial killings.
History and Terrorism Outline
The maxim, history repeats itself regarding political conflicts that are not handled amicably, as it always results in war atrocities such as violations of human rights and terrorist activities. Terrorism is defined as committing ideology-driven crimes where one party seeks to destabilize society, influence policies, or inflict terror. Historically, political conflicts arise from different aspects such as fear of losing power to an upcoming power, desire to have authority over people by injecting fear into people, promoting an ideological agenda, and promoting the welfare of one or more identity groups (Hoffman & Forest, 2017). Conflicts that arise over resources, religion, or territorial claims lead to the creation of new grievances that ultimately lead to human rights violations or terrorist activities perpetrated by one party to another. From the differing political ideology of the Nazi regime against the Jews, the Arab nation’s acceptance of Israel as a free state, the development of ISIS, and the US national interest in the Middle East, political conflicts always lead to human rights violations as many civilians are affected by the war.
Nazi Regime Conflict
Historically, political conflict triggers have been the founding roots of armed conflicts worldwide from the Nazi regime to the IS regime. The Nazi regime led by Adolf Hitler’s critical political ideologies of Nazism included; antisemitism, anti-communism, Germanic people’s unification, and an aggressive foreign-based policy geared to gaining living space in eastern Europe. Antisemitism is an age-old phenomenon regarding the hatred of the Jews. The Jewish population has been a victim of discrimination since the middle ages, primarily due to their religious beliefs. The Third Reich political ideology centered on eliminating Jews, thus leading to human rights violations such as denying the right to live. The failure of the Nazi regime to find an amicable solution to the perceived conflict with the Jews led to the greatest human atrocities in history, the holocaust. The holocaust, the systematic persecution and mass murder of Jews, approximately led to the death of about six million Jews, two-thirds of its population in Europe. The resulting countermeasures were aimed at protecting the Jewish people.
Arab – Israel Conflict
After the second world war, the United Nations partitioned the British mandate of Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. The minority Jewish people received the majority of the land. In 1948, the state of Israel was recognized by the United Nations. However, Arab countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Egypt, and Jordan rejected Israel’s existence. The Palestinians were driven out of the new Israel and thus led to political conflicts between the two warring groups. Palestine’s formed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to organize terror attacks to disrupt the geopolitical environment. Many terror groups focus on inspiring fear by promoting violence in their fight to promote their ideologies. Israel is regarded as a dominant state compared to Palestine; thus, the fear of losing to an upcoming nation led to the aggravation of the political conflict to human rights violations and extreme terrorism (Quandt, 2010). For example, the PFLP hijacked an Israeli plane, EL AL, flight in 1968 that was on transit from Tel Aviv from Rome as they demanded the release of Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel. An overzealous behavior fuels terrorist attacks to accomplish certain objectives that intend to explore the vulnerabilities demonstrated by other countries. The attack’s motive is to convey a message, using innocent civilians as collateral, such as the 1972 Munich Olympic Games where Palestinian terrorists killed eleven Israeli athletes. In retaliation, the Israeli continued airstrike deep into Palestine territory, killing hundreds of civilians. This political conflict led to human rights violations which persist till today.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Conflict
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria desired to control the masses through fear. In 2013, the ISIS leader renamed the caliphate IS and occupied land from Allepo in Syria to Diyala in Iraq. The caliphate carried out strikes worldwide to instill fear into the hearts of the opposers of their ideology. In 2015, IS affiliates bombed a Russian plane killing 224 people, and carried out attacks all over Paris, killing 130 people and wounding 300. This led to counter-terrorism strategies such as eliminating members of the group and their families against international humanitarian law. Many innocent civilians were lost in the crossfire.
United States – Middle East Conflict
The conflict between the US and the Middle East is based on the US desire to control the volatile oil-rich region. Their political ideology was in direct conflict with the Arab nation’s interest in a free region not regulated by a foreign power. This led to the formation of Al Qaeda and Taliban forces to limit US influence in the area and promote their ideology. Rather than solving their political differences amicably, the states chose violence to push their agenda. This led to the terrorist attacks on US soil on the World Trade Center Complex in 1993 and 2001. On 9/11, 19 al -Qaeda militants executed a coordinated attack against the United States, killing nearly 3,000 innocent lives (Snow, 2016). The resulting counter-terrorism strategies led to the Middle East invasion in search of the masterminds of the terror attack and to curb radicalization. This war resulted in many fatalities from both parties. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created under the Bush administration in 2003 to respond to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The agency’s primary goal is to increase the United States’ security by preventing terrorist organizations and proactively deterring other various types of hazards.
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Donnelly, J. (2013). Universal human rights in theory and practice. Cornell University Press.
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Herik, L. J., van den Herik, L., & Schrijver, N. (Eds.). (2013). Counter-terrorism strategies in a fragmented international legal order: Meeting the challenges. Cambridge University Press.
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