This module can be studied on a standalone basis or as part of the Certificate in Terrorism Studies
Human rights represent a common set of fundamental principles that have been recognised by the international community. They are protected under both international law and the national laws of many countries. Human rights are also an integral part of the concepts of democratic governance and the rule of law. They identify the basic freedoms to be enjoyed by all individuals, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, age, sex, disability, political opinion, religious or ethical belief, or sexual orientation.
Terrorist violence is not only directed at groups and individuals, their lives and property, but also at political institutions and their values. Since 9/11, however, governments have adopted counter-terrorism measures that many people claim violate human rights standards. In defence of the same measures, others have argued that human rights standards must also accommodate the need for governments to protect their citizens.
Download the full Certificate in Terrorism Studies prospectus here
The module starts with an overview of the international human rights framework and the different institutions that have been established to protect human rights at the international and regional level.
It also introduces the key concepts behind the idea of human rights, and its relationship with democracy and the rule of law. Particular attention will be paid to the issue of states of emergency, and the idea that human rights safeguards may be restricted or even suspended during times of crisis: does the “new normal” post-9/11 mean that human rights standards are no longer meaningful? Or is respect for human rights an essential aspect of effective counter-terrorism policy?
Individual lessons will then look in detail at the content of specific rights, including the right to life, the right to liberty and due process, the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression, the right to privacy, and freedom from torture. In each case, we will examine how the general principle behind each right has a particular impact on a wide range of policy issues relating to terrorism and counter-terrorism, including the use of surveillance, ‘enhanced’ interrogation methods, drone strikes, secret evidence, deportation, extradition and detention without trial.
The module is designed to be studied over four weeks:
Week 1: Introduction to the international human rights framework and the concepts of human rights and the rule of law. The right to life: understand how the right to life gives rise to a duty on governments to protect people from terrorism but also disproportionate counter-terrorism measures.
Week 2: Freedom from torture: gain a deeper knowledge of the UN Convention against Torture and the international prohibition against the use of torture. Due process and the right to liberty: explore the concept of due process and the right to liberty and the circumstances in which these rights can be restricted in times of emergency.
Week 3: The right to a fair trial: what types of restrictions may be legitimately imposed for the sake of the fight against terrorism? The right to privacy: examine how surveillance and interception of communications may be compatible with privacy rights.
Week 4: Freedom of expression: is it ever legitimate to restrict speech as a counter-terrorism measure? Balancing rights: what lessons can we draw from the pattern of human rights violations arising from the War on Terror?
Study modules individually or as part of the Certificate in Terrorism Studies.
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