Holding Western Countries Accountable for Human Rights Violations

Mark Gibney, an RWI Affiliated Professor, recently published his work titled Extraordinary Rendition: Addressing the Challenges of Accountability. The book is co-edited by Didier Bigo, Professor of International Relations at Sciences Po-Paris, and Elspeth Guild, Professor of European migration law at the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

The work examines the response of American and European authorities to the practice of extraordinary rendition, the US government-sponsored programme of abducting and transferring individuals from one country to another and commonly associated with the use of torture. The practice was most notably addressed in the US Senate Intelligence Committee (Feinstein) Report as well as in judgments by the European Court of Human Rights.

Gibney says they chose to focus on extraordinary rendition to examine the broader issues of rule of law and accountability mainly because it involves Western states acting in blatant disregard of international human rights standards with impunity. He says:

It is the continued avoidance of any semblance of accountability that is disturbing, and in our view speaks volumes about the West’s approach to human rights: lecture other states about the importance of following human rights standards, while ignoring such principles when it involves our own national security.

Research on extraordinary rendition carries important implications today. Of the 54 states the Open Society Foundation finds implicated in extraordinary practices, only a handful have even begun to examine their actions in the conduct of the “war on terrorism.”  With almost no exception, impunity continues to be the order of the day, perhaps best evidenced by the nomination of Gina Haspel – who previously headed a CIA black site in Thailand – to become the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The book focuses on the few countries who have til now been assigned the most accountability, including the UK, Poland, and Italy, yet still largely enjoy impunity. Of the states involved, Gibney says approximately half of these countries are considered “Western,” and only a handful have been held accountable.

The work was published by Routledge Studies in Human Rights and can be purchased on Amazon and other retailers.

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