Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Louise Doswald-Beck, Professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in Switzerland, has published a new book on Human Rights in Times of Conflict and Terrorism (Oxford University Press 2011).
The book is a guide to international human rights and humanitarian law as applied to situations of armed conflict, counter-terrorism measures, and other violent situations that endanger fundamental human rights (such as as the right to life, prohibitions on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, and other fundamental rights). Professor Doswald-Beck was previously a legal adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and became Head of the Legal Division in 1998. She brings her knowledge and experience from her work at ICRC in a highly practical text on a difficult legal and political issue.
The book begins by reviewing the "Overarching Elements" such as the application of human rights law during both peace and armed conflict, the international law instruments that create obligations to ensure and implement human rights, the right to a remedy for violations of rights, and the regime of limitations and derogations. Her treatment of the subject is scholarly, thorough, and impressive. It focuses deeply on the substantive law and assumes a basic understanding of the procedures of human rights bodies. There are extensive citations to decisions of human rights tribunals and to primary source documents.
The second part of her book deals with "Absolute Prohibitions" including: the prohibition of the arbitrary deprivation of life; the prohibition on the use of torture, inhuman, or degrading treatment; and the prohibition of enforced disappearances. That is followed by parts on "Fundamental Requirements of Due Process," "Limitations to Freedoms," and "Protection of Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Populations."
This book (at 550 pages) would be a useful reference work for any human rights collection. It would be a good practitioner guide and would also be an excellent textbook for a graduate course in international human rights law. And although this book focuses on the application of human rights law in times of violence, it also shows how human rights are to be protected at all times. This book is a direct response to the damage done to human rights and international law over the last decade in the name of combatting terrorism and protecting national security.
Mark E. Wojcik