The Destabilizing Effect of Terrorism in the International Human Rights Regime

This Article explores the counterterrorism apparatus maintained by the United Nations from a critical perspective. It argues that the international counterterrorism regime reflects American and European priorities and structures to a significant degree, a situation that positions the threat of Islamist terrorism as preeminent. The existence of this regime results in significant distortion to concepts and laws governing citizenship, national security, and civil liberties, not to mention overstating the threat of terrorism itself. Further, there is a clear racial component in linking the terrorist threat to Islam itself, the majority religion in many countries of the Global South, specifically those in Africa and Asia. The result is a system of counterterrorism enforcement that countenances religious and racial bias in service of a public safety rationale, without questioning the costs—racial, societal, or otherwise—that rationale requires.

About the Author

Wadie E. Said is Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina School of Law and an elected member of the American Law Institute.