In terms of international law, what is the impact of terrorism on human rights?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would say that one of the overwhelming impacts of terrorism on human rights is the ease with which they can be violated.  The fear of terrorism and how it encompasses daily life has led to a condition where human rights and democratic ideals are easily sacrificed in the name of "getting information."  The war on terror and the fight against terrorism has created the perception that those who stand against terrorism are like a world of Jack Bauers from "24" who have to use torture and "enhanced interrogation" in order to defuse a bomb that will go off "somewhere" and "at some time."  I think that the ease with which these ideas are accepted is one significant area where international law and human rights have been hurt by the war on terror.  The argument that torture yields absolute and credible information was something easily embraced in the days following the September 11 attacks.  The construction of policy that did little to stand opposed to international law and practices, as well as human rights was something evident.  The idea that the United States Constitution, a document that had not been seen as an instrument allowing torture and mistreatment of people, could be viewed as something that not only allowed, but encouraged "enhanced interrogation" and unlimited powers to the Executive branch is something that comes out of the war on terror.  It is also representative of a casualty to both international law and human rights as a result.

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