Human rights, democracy, and terrorism act as a triangle that bounds modern world politics to a certain limitation. On one hand, we talk about the advancement of human rights and how human rights organizations can address the fear and threats to civil liberty, human rights are promoted in the form of foreign policy, whereas on the other we are expecting a new generation of terrorists taking unnecessary advantage on behalf of civil liberty and freedom.
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In such a critical situation where modern world politics is striving hard to maintain a balance between the two forces, various nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have appeared on the scene to promote human rights on the road to protect democracy. Other reasons allow various NGOs to raise their voice for promoting universal human rights. These include maintaining political stable growth with desired levels of economic prosperity (Scott et al, 2004, p. 177). That indicates that excessive human rights commission can fulfill only at the cost of allowing terrorism.
The author’s debate gives rise to the question of whether human rights with ever be established enough to act as fundamental guides to the interests and choices of political powers? Do human rights involved in the ‘war on terrorism’ require that civilian rights should be restricted in fundamental ways, or is there any means by which we can respect a relation between human rights and the prevention of terrorism? If there is a need to maintain a balance between the two forces, what sort of balance is required to cope up with the problem of ‘war on terror?
The author has discussed both sides of the debate. While mentioning the significance of human rights promotion in democratic reform, the author highlights the view of Craner (Scott et al, 2004, p. 177) which optimistically links a nation’s progress with democracy. On the contrary, he explains Gentry’s (Scott et al, 2004, p. 177) notion that human rights while promoting democracy do not take into account the hazards of promoting democracy and civil freedom.
The author while expressing the major concerns about ‘costly’ human rights brings the reader attention to those uncontrollable issues which are often ignored by the NGOs. Although human rights promise political and civil liberty to the civilians but what about the biased rights of other citizens who lead to economic and social instability. Although the author is not pessimistic in addressing and seeking a meaningful balance between what human rights expect and the threats likely to be faced by NGOs, still there must be some means to protect human rights but not at the cost of fearing terrorist attacks.
Promoting human rights in a political era is an open-ended issue that starts up with freedom, travels through democracy, and ends up in terrorism. However, those who suffer at the hands of terrorist attacks cannot be overlooked and the denial that such suffering could claim any part in the dynamics of our political orders has a continuous record that demands attention (Brown, 2002, p. 4).
No doubt human rights have also a strong hypothesis to present before international world politics to acquire help. Whenever discussions of matters that concern public affairs are addressed, they are couched in terms of our legal culture. In other words, one can view civilian problems in the court of jurisdiction. This is the way much of the exceedingly divisive debate over civil rights versus war on terror has been conducted.
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On the one side, there are civil libertarians, politicians, and liberals claiming and demanding justice for human rights with uncompromising cases for liberty. As a result, several criticisms are made upon practical suggestions in the name of shoring up our safety, including the anti-terrorism measures. Even NGOs perceive such measures as unnecessary invasions of our freedoms and there is a reason for their claim. These advocates consider the government, not terror, to be the greatest threat to the preservation of liberty. On the other side, modern world politics blame NGOs and other liberal organizations fighting for human rights as undermining the moral fabric of the country while destroying its social order and inviting terrorism.
First, we analyze the scenario in which democracy is lost. Empirical data suggests that internal situations of the country in which democracy is at stake are rare and are limited in the context of internal politics because in democracy once firmly established has rarely been lost due to internal developments (Etzioni, 2004, p. 10). Here human rights can play a significant role to address politics that witnesses regular and institutionalized changes in power which are in line with the preferences of the people freely expressed.
What human rights can do is that it can entail the whole political extravaganza with a variety of institutions: for instance, when two or more political parties perform some measure of checks and balances among the various branches of the government, courts protect individual rights because there are distinctions between civil liberty and democracy.
Obviously, in such an era where terrorist attacks spread insecurity, security crises or the perception of national insecurity is the most vulnerable issue to affect human rights lower among policy priorities. Thus many NGOs have felt that after the tragic attacks on New York City and Washington, U.S politics have reduced its support for international human rights issues such as criminal justice, democracy promotion, and welfare rights. Since the political world has continued through a long way to a strong unilateralist and ultra-nationalist approach to these issues, it concerns human welfare according to ideologies or ideational traditions and regularly competes for dominance in thinking about human rights and foreign policy (Weiss et al, 2004, p. 77).
Foreign policies that allow protection strategies acknowledge the fact that there are some loopholes either in their policies or in their implication, therefore they are not all cut from one constitutional or legal angle, often such policies are unreasonable and do not allow to have the same merit from a national security viewpoint. Even such policies do not raise the same level of concern about their effects on human rights. An example is a failure of enacting policies in the wake of 9/11 where such policies were witnessed to be unreasonable and unrealistic to retain civil liberty.
International terrorism affects the efficiency of foreign policies that impose restrictions on civil freedom by limiting them to obey and rely upon the countermeasures employed, and the extent to which those countermeasures preserve or erode fundamental democratic practices and traditions. Modern politics analyze their efficiency on a practical basis while examining their impact on democracy, assesses various countermeasures comparatively. In such a context where politicians are pressurized to choose from among three things, civil freedom, democracy, and anti-terrorist policies, they should consider the merits of each while pointing out commonalities and anomalies of experience, identify past results, and should draw general conclusions based on the lessons learned from past experiences to finalize democratic counter-terrorism policies.
In doing so politics varies by the political cultures that ensure the results or the impact of specific policies and actions to the country concerned. While doing so political assessment is essential in a comparative assessment however the limitations of the analytical method suggest that the conclusions drawn should be considered instructive, but suggestive rather than definitive (Charters, 1994, p. 3).
One can also contemplate upon other two points that are especially relevant to a discussion of why U.S. foreign policy on human rights seems vague than ever before. This can be demonstrated by some scientific research that human rights in foreign policy are more a Democratic than a Republican issue, and the notion that situations of war and threats to security correlate negatively with human rights protection proves true (Weiss et al, 2004, p. 79). Thus we cannot avoid the probability that human rights directly depend upon the power of political parties who controls power in each branch of government and whether security threats are more or less perceived and emphasized. Traditional national security is not likely to occur in circumstances where the country is vulnerable to terrorist attacks; therefore in the pursuit of economic interests rather than human rights under normal circumstances, only an exceptional political party’s administration would make international human rights a high priority when the country has been physically attacked.
To arrive at promoting human rights policies appropriate for democratic states, it is useful to keep in mind those realities of the nature of terrorism that impose the limits on the powers of democratic governments, and the restraints imposed by being part of the international community. Therefore it is vital for political groups before promoting democracy to consider and distinguish among various types of possible threats to the country in the name of ‘promoting civil liberties.
From the above discussion, it is evident that what is required in the promotion of human rights is the involvement of international politics, so neither civil liberty suffers at the hands of affecting democracy nor democratic societies put the onus on world political foreign policies. On the other side, NGOs must consider and take into account logical proven of the threats and take decisions that are for the safety of the civil liberties and are taken only after a proper analysis of the available alternatives based on the grounds of seriousness, immediacy, specificity, and likelihood of the threat.
To maintain a balance between what human rights claim to be ‘civil freedom’ and conducting the war on terror, the global political world must induce policies that work for civil liberties to be in proportional to the threat (Galgan & Green, 2004, p. 86). Therefore the best way to determine whether a measure is proportional, politics should consider the degree of invasiveness of the measure concerning human rights while considering the duration, the proportion of the population affected, and the fundamentality of the right or liberty implicated.
- Brown M, Anne, (2002) Human Rights and the Borders of Suffering: The Promotion of Human Rights in International Politics: Manchester University Press: Manchester, England.
- Charters, A. David, (1994) The Deadly Sin of Terrorism: Its Effect on Democracy and Civil Liberty in Six Countries: Greenwood Press: Westport, CT.
- Etzioni Amitai, (2004) How Patriotic Is the Patriot Act? Freedom versus Security in the Age of Terrorism: Routledge: New York.
- Galgan J. Gerald, Greene J. Francis and Wesley Edward, Perspectives on 9/11: Praeger: Westport, CT. 2004.
- Scott, G.,Jones, R.,& Furmanski, L. (2004). Contemporary international problems: World Politics: Custom edition (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall/Pearson.
- Weiss G. Thomas, Crahan E. Margaret & Goering John, (2004) Wars on Terrorism and Iraq: Human Rights, Unilateralism, and U.S. Foreign Policy: Routledge: New York.