Transnational Comparative Analysis of Balancing Competing Interests in Counter-Terrorism

31 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2006 Last revised: 6 Feb 2013

See all articles by Amos N. Guiora

Amos N. Guiora

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law


Finding a balance between national security and the rights of individuals is the most significant issue faced by liberal democratic nations in developing their counter-terrorism strategy. Without a balance between these two tensions, democratic societies lose the very ethos for which they fight. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Indeed, it is imperative for democracies to avoid infringing on political freedoms and civil liberties. Yet, the ultimate responsibility of government is to protect its citizenry. The struggle to balance competing interests is the fundamental dilemma confronting democracies today. Balancing will be addressed by analyzing how each of the five nations surveyed in this article (US, Israel, Russia, Spain and India) respond to major terror attacks. Balancing legitimate national security needs against the rights of those individuals living in the nation is a true test of a nation's adherence to democratic values. How each of the five surveyed nations balance will be the focus of this article. The discussion focuses on one particular issue in each of the reviewed countries, demonstrating how each of the five societies surveyed in this article balances national security and individual rights. Each issue is used as an example of how that nation balances. Liberal democratic societies that unilaterally decide on "self-imposed restraints," inherently limit their responses to terrorism. Unlike regimes which act with impunity and disregard norms, the surveyed nations understand that there are limits to power.

Keywords: Balance, National Security, Individual Rights, Civil Liberties, U.S., Israel, Russia, Spain, India, Judicial Review, Armed Conflict, Self- imposed Restraint, POTA, Prevention of Terrorism Act, Incommunicado, House Demolition, Beslan, Chechnya, Immigrants, Profiling, Guilt by Association, Due Process

JEL Classification: K19, K49

Suggested Citation

Guiora, Amos N., Transnational Comparative Analysis of Balancing Competing Interests in Counter-Terrorism. Temple International & Comparative Law Journal, 2006, Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-08, Available at SSRN:

Amos N. Guiora (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States
801-581-4295 (Phone)
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