15 - The human security framework and counter-terrorism: examining the rhetoric relating to ‘extraordinary renditions’  pp. 532-559

The human security framework and counter-terrorism: examining the rhetoric relating to ‘extraordinary renditions’

By Carla Ferstman

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Many have written about ‘extraordinary rendition’, a policy which involves the secret detention and subsequent extrajudicial transfer or removal of individuals suspected of links to terrorist activity to countries with poor prison conditions and where interrogation under torture is routine, for the purpose of arrest, detention, and/or interrogation by the receiving state. The policy, which is mainly initiated by the United States, and carried out with the collaboration, complicity, or acquiescence of other governments, abrogates fundamental notions of human rights and due process. However, aspects of the policy have been justified in light of the need to do all that is necessary to address the terrorist threat. As Condoleezza Rice, then US Secretary of State, said in December 2005, ‘[r]endition is a vital tool in combating transnational terrorism’, ‘[r]enditions take terrorists out of action, and save lives’.

This chapter considers the framing of security debates post-9/11, in order to analyse how counter-terrorism policies such as extraordinary rendition were able to gain traction and support and to consider why it has been so difficult to apply legal rules to address the underlying rights violations resulting from such policies. It considers the particular mindsets that have underpinned the securitisation of terrorism as well as the inherent vulnerabilities of non- and dual citizens to actions in furtherance of same.

It is argued that when implementing counter-terrorism strategies, states have firmly rejected the human security paradigm – this has on the one hand exacerbated individuals' vulnerabilities in the counter-terrorism context – it also points to the limited capacity of the human security framework to impact governmental responses in respect of areas which ‘really matter’, or the ability of such an amorphous framework to put a dent in American or indeed other countries' political realism.