Renewing the Commitment to the Rule of Law and Human Rights in the United States

By Robinson, Mary | Global Governance, January-March 2005 | Go to article overview

Renewing the Commitment to the Rule of Law and Human Rights in the United States


Robinson, Mary, Global Governance


The recent 100th anniversary of the birth of Ralph Johnson Bunche, serves as a timely reminder of the United States' proud history of leadership and commitment to international law and institutions, and of how much that kind of leadership is needed today.

There is an urgent need for the United States to reflect on its own historic role in the establishment of a global system of rules and institutions. The time has come to renew its commitment, in words and deeds, to the rule of law and to the international human rights standards and system that it did so much to establish. Equally important, there is a need to recognize how both connect to the goal of ensuring true human security. I make this call for a renewed commitment not as a critic but as a longtime friend and strong supporter of the United States.

We are confronted today with a dangerous array of threats to peace and security--from terrorists who are prepared to attack without regard for human lives, to failing and failed states unable to secure even the most basic structures of governance and at risk of becoming the breeding grounds for future terrorists. Other threats--from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, to international criminal syndicates that traffic in everything from small arms to the most vulnerable human beings--all require leadership and joint action. It is precisely these dangers that make respect for the rule of law and human rights so important today.

Standing up for those principles and the international systems that have been built to uphold them requires holding fast to long-standing national and international obligations. It also calls for thinking in new ways about security. A more expansive notion of human security could serve as a bridge, reconnecting the people of the United States with people from every part of the planet with greater awareness of our common future.

Some have argued that the terrible attacks of September 11, 2001, were so heinous that the only possible response was a global "war on terrorism." These voices point out that the enemy is not a nation-state and is not willing to respect the fundamental standards of international law. Fighting terrorism, therefore, requires new strategies and sometimes "exceptional measures."

More than three years after September 11, we must ask ourselves if such measures were justified or if they have brought results. (1) Were the decisions taken by the U.S. government to hold detainees at Guantanamo Bay without Geneva Convention hearings; to monitor, detain, and deport immigrants against whom no charges had been made; or to question long-held commitments (such as forbidding the use of torture) justifiable actions to protect the American people?

Some believe strongly that such actions were necessary to guard against further terrorist attacks. What is clear is that the language "at war with terrorism" has had direct, and nefarious, implications. It has brought a subtle--or not so subtle--change of emphasis: order and security trump all other concerns. As was often the case in the past during times of war, the emphasis on national order and security involved curtailment of democratic processes and resulted in violations of human rights. The bipartisan commission that has investigated the actions leading up to and following the events of September 11 has prompted an important debate about the effectiveness of these strategies and how best to protect the United States in the future. (2)

That debate should continue, and the International Commission of Jurists made a good start during its biennial conference in August 2004 in Berlin. One hundred sixty international lawyers from around the world adopted the Declaration on Upholding Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Combating Terrorism, (3) which acknowledges terrorism as a serious threat to human rights and affirms that all states are obliged to take effective measures. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Renewing the Commitment to the Rule of Law and Human Rights in the United States
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.