Guantanamo Is Small Part of Bigger Picture; Birmingham Lawyer Phil Shiner Explains Why Our Basic Human Rights Could Be the Biggest Victim of the Government's 'War on Terror'

The Birmingham Post (England), May 9, 2006 | Go to article overview

Guantanamo Is Small Part of Bigger Picture; Birmingham Lawyer Phil Shiner Explains Why Our Basic Human Rights Could Be the Biggest Victim of the Government's 'War on Terror'


Byline: Phil Shiner

Guantanamo Bay is back in the news. On Thursday two judges ruled that the High Court could not order the Foreign Secretary 'to make a formal request' to the US to release two British residents.

This week the Attorney General, the Government's chief legal adviser will call for Guantanamo Bay to close, denouncing its illegal practices as 'unacceptable'.

There is no doubt that the Attorney General is right, although he is bound to cause a diplomatic row with the Bush Administration. There have been violations of the most fundamental rights of all: the absolute prohibition on torture, the right not to be detained without trial and the right to a fair trial. Why then is the Attorney General out of step with Tony Blair who stands accused of weasel words in saying only that Guantanamo Bay is an 'anomaly'? And is the real debate here, and elsewhere, about human rights only, or are there broader considerations?

Guantanamo Bay, the US practice of extraordinary renditions, and the UK's reliance on diplomatic assurances when deporting foreign nationals at risk of torture, are all undeniably bad things.

Lately, however, the British media have tended to focus almost exclusively on these relatively narrow human rights issues to the detriment of the bigger picture. An analysis of recent political events might explain why Tony Blair will not cross the White House over Guantanamo Bay or other issues, and challenges us to resist extremely worrying developments within international law in the present era.

It must be understood that the Blair and Bush Administrations stand together in pushing forward a new project. They use the attacks of 9/11 and the rhetoric of a 'war on terror' for a very different agenda. This becomes clear from, for example, the recent speeches of Tony Blair and John Reid, the outgoing Defence Secretary.

These speeches build on earlier ones, such as Blair's speech in his constituency in March 2004, and earlier events, for example, the political row when it became clear that existing international law would not sanction the attack on Iraq in March 2003.

One can summarise this agenda from a UK perspective: in the era of global capitalism the international community is increasingly interdependent. It must act together to enforce global values and meet global concerns. There is a fundamental clash between, on the one hand, progress and modernity and, on the other, extremism and conflict. Extremism is defined as Muslim fundamentalism or terrorism. This clash about civilisation is hugely determinate of the UK's future.

The international community needs to reform its institutions, in particular the UN and its Security Council, to ensure that international law does permit the international community to take preemptive action if a state threatens these global values.

Such action may have to be justified through the language of humanitarian intervention so that another exception to the prohibition on the use of force in international relations can be opened up. This exception will allow future interference in the affairs of a sovereign state if there is 'actual or threatened repression'.

What is key here is that this project is already well underway. Both states have already demonstrated on ample occasions that when international law gets in the way they will find devices to change it, or they will ignore it. …

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

Guantanamo Is Small Part of Bigger Picture; Birmingham Lawyer Phil Shiner Explains Why Our Basic Human Rights Could Be the Biggest Victim of the Government's 'War on Terror'
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.