Thomas G. Weiss, Margaret E. Crahan, and John Goering
The chapters in this volume are one of the products of a year-long faculty seminar and public forums, held during the academic year 2002-3, sponsored by the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies and the Center for Humanities at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and its Vice-President Harriet Zuckerman were supportive of this intellectual undertaking and generous in funding the project.
New York has proven to be an ideal, if scarred, location to convene a discussion of the impact of the wars on terrorism and Iraq on issues of human and civil rights. We began our seminars in September 2002, almost exactly a year after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The issue of terrorism was concurrently on the international, national, and local (New York City) agendas. The war in Iraq was raging during the final sessions of the series after difficult debates in the United Nations Security Council. Current events had a very direct impact on our discussions.
As a result, the conceptualization and focuses of the seminar evolved over time. Our initial overarching theme was the interaction of U.S. policy on state sovereignty and its impact on the enjoyment of human rights both in this country and abroad. As part of the basis for our discussion, we used a definition of human rights common in the national and international human rights communities: that human rights are inherent claims by individuals and groups on states and societies for life with dignity, including the complete and complex range of political, civil, ethnic, social, economic, cultural, intellectual, and religious rights.
Given the subject's inherent breadth, coupled with our desire to engage in intensive analysis and debate, we focused the seminar on three major case studies or issue areas that helped illustrate and reveal the complex interactions of factors shaping the tensions between war, rights, and the dynamics of state sovereignty. The three topics were: the impact of the war on terrorism on human rights both in the U.S. and around the world; the relevance of U.N. activities on the subject of race, including the 2001 U.N. World Conference against Racism, to U.S. domestic and foreign policy; and the impact of U.S. unilateralism since the end of the Cold War on this nation's foreign policy, with particular attention devoted to the Middle East and surrounding regions. The