Human Rights and Security

Credits: 2.00

A central feature in the discourse on public policy in liberal democracies has been the question of whether, and to what extent, it was (and is) necessary to curtail human rights in order to maintain and promote "security" in times of perceived crisis. Whether it is the threat of terrorism, organized crime or this risk of re-offending sex-offenders and child-molesters, governments are quick to respond with security legislation that often has significant implications for individual rights and liberties. This course focusses on the alleged balance of "security" and "liberty". It examines the theoretical underpinnings of the concepts of "security" and "liberty" and analyses how human rights protections apply in times of crisis. It discusses several contemporary case studies that highlight the tension between "liberty" and "security", including derogation from human rights treaties, preventive detention of sex offenders, extradition/expulsion and non-refoulement, and the blacklisting of terrorists. What these case studies have in common is that they originate in a long-standing predicament of the liberal democratic state: how far are we prepared to go to create a "secure" environment for ourselves without getting caught in our own security net?

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Students will be graded on class participation and a final research paper. Letter grade with pass/fail option.