Cosmopolitan Liberty in the Age of Terrorism

INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND URBAN GOVERNANCE, A. Crawford, ed., pp. 413-438, Cambridge University Press, 2011

1 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2011

See all articles by Clive Walker

Clive Walker

University of Leeds - Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (CCJS)

Date Written: January 1, 2011


Though of ancient origin, the concept of cosmopolitanism remains salient, not least within contemporary rights discourse. Its institutional implications promulgate the ideal of a common community which can be viewed as reflected in the emergence of post-1945 federations of nations which sponsor international human rights and humanitarian laws.

Yet, can these concepts of cosmopolitanism hold fast in the face of contemporary terrorism? Jihadi movements like Al-Qa'ida have been criticised as 'counter-cosmopolitans'. In turn, states are motivated by terrorism to raise the drawbridge on cosmopolitan comity and to adopt exceptionalism in foreign affairs and irreconcilable forms of illiberal nationalism at home. The counter-terrorism world order thus appears to contradict the ‘Perpetual Peace’ grounded in universal hospitality as outlined by Kant (1795) and draws closer to an inhospitable ‘war all the time’.

Despite this unpromising landscape, a 'weak' and 'moderate' version of cosmopolitanism is adopted in this chapter as championing the notion of a common shared morality which can apply regardless of nationality and citizenship even in the face of terrorism by one's mortal enemy. The version is 'weak' in that it is not claimed that cosmopolitan liberty delivers equal liberty without borders, but it does demand an equation of liberty for all within borders and at a sufficient level of enjoyment which satisfies international standards. The version is 'moderate' for it is not claimed that cosmopolitanism is the sole normative value of relevance. For present purposes, the core of the applicable morality within cosmopolitanism will remain the universality of human rights. However, the point of this chapter's regard for cosmopolitanism beyond human rights doctrine is to draw out the force of its restraint within a jurisdiction upon state-centric security and also the force of its persuasion to extend mutual respect beyond jurisdictional boundaries. Another helpful feature of cosmopolitanism is to recognise that solidarity demands more than negative respect for universal rights, though allied agendas such as the search for mobilising shared values (such as citizenship) and the impact of broad concepts of collective ‘human security’ go beyond the scope of this chapter. Instead, it is intended to provide a case study of the cosmopolitan treatment of liberty in the face of terrorism. Its treatment within the United Kingdom will be examined for traces of cosmopolitanism in both internal-facing and outward-facing aspects. This focus through the prism of cosmopolitanism on the liberty of individuals suspected of terrorism potentially involves consideration of three internal-facing modalities of restriction: police detention following arrest; administrative restrictions on liberty; and detention pending deportation. Then there is the outward-facing incarceration of the enemies of the state.

Keywords: Terrorism, Cosmopolitanism, Liberty, Human Rights

JEL Classification: K19, K42, N40

Suggested Citation

Walker, Clive, Cosmopolitan Liberty in the Age of Terrorism (January 1, 2011). INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND URBAN GOVERNANCE, A. Crawford, ed., pp. 413-438, Cambridge University Press, 2011, Available at SSRN:

Clive Walker (Contact Author)

University of Leeds - Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (CCJS) ( email )

Leeds LS2 9JT
United Kingdom
44 (0) 113 3435022 (Phone)
44 (0) 113 3435056 (Fax)


Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics