The war on terror and the institution of human rights – can the two be combined?

The threat posed by terrorism to democratic society and its citizens has been extensively researched and forms a reoccurring topic in government and NGO reports, as well as in academic works. Due to extensive coverage in the media, it is also well-known to the common man. Through live transmissions, people have been able to follow the atrocities of 9/11, as well as the bombings on Bali and the killings that took place in Madrid and London. Images of children crying for their dead parents, and parents for their deceased children have been etched into the minds of the public.People increasingly fear new terrorist acts, which the governments in turn have sworn to keep at bay. But the fight against terrorism carries a heavy price. In the name of the war on terror, some of our basic human rights are being violated; our freedom and integrity are being diminished. Paradoxically, these represent the very values that al-Qaeda is trying to eradicate.Respect for the institution of human rights was not easily won, but it could be very easily lost. Already in the 1720s, authors of the Cato letters warned us: “It is the Nature of Power to be ever encroaching, and concerting every extraordinary Power, granted at particular Times, and upon particular Occasions, into an ordinary Power, to be used at all Times, and where there is no Occasion”

Author: Borg, Dominika

Source: Uppsala University Library

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