Of Fortresses and Caltrops: National Security and Competing Models of Rights Protection
EXAMINING CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON HUMAN RIGHTS, R. Dickinson et al, Cambridge: CUP, 2011
18 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2011
Date Written: February 8, 2011
Despite the transformative language in which human rights norms are couched, their operation in practice appears to be more prosaic. Western liberal democracies have endeavoured to constitutionalise their systems of government to a degree compatible with maintaining an important sphere of political debate. Some countries, like the US and UK, have arrived at different accommodations of these concerns, producing atypical models of domestic rights protection. This article examines the consequence of these constitutional compromises which have emerged in both countries’ responses to terrorism after the attacks of September 11. The constitutional rights protections in place within the US serve not to prevent rights abuses but to channel responses to emergency situations against other, less well-protected, interests. This article challenges the supposition that the ECHR permits more infringements of a range of rights, in the interest of national security, than the US Constitution, contending that the ostensibly weaker rights protections in the UK carry the potential to genuinely constrain rather than simply redirecting the focus of counter-terrorism responses.
Keywords: Human Rights, Terrorism, United States, United Kingdom, European Convention on Human Rights
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