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UN rights chief says anti-terrorism campaign should lead to greater security

UN rights chief says anti-terrorism campaign should lead to greater security

Mary Robinson
The best response to the 11 September attacks is to increase human security, not to subordinate international principles built over the last 50 years to the "war on terrorism," the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said today.

"There is no contradiction between security and human rights," said Mary Robinson in London, where she delivered the Fifth Commonwealth Lecture. She noted that States were obliged to provide security to their citizens, but added that "to abandon human rights standards or the rule of law in responding to terrorism is to give a victory to those we seek to defeat."

Mrs. Robinson emphasized that countries being attacked for their values should not abandon them. "Surely the answer to a challenge to the existence of open societies cannot be for us ourselves to close them," she said.

The High Commissioner called for a comprehensive approach in fighting the scourge of terrorism. "We need to build on the wider recognition that emerged out of the 11 September outrage of the many causes of human insecurity," the High Commissioner said. "Human security encompasses not alone physical threats arising from terrorism and violent conflicts but the insecurities that stem from underdevelopment and poverty, from rampant disease, from discrimination and unequal trade."

The reaction to the events of 11 September, including in developed democracies, "seemed at times to subordinate the principles of human rights to other more 'robust' action in the 'war against terrorism,'" she said. "There has been a tendency to ride roughshod over - or at least to set on one side - established principles of international human rights and humanitarian law."

Mrs. Robinson called for a genuine effort to advance development, democracy and the universal protection of all human rights. In particular, she urged funding for efforts to help developing countries in the administration of justice, promote the rule of law and adhere to human rights standards.