Divided We Stand? American and European Perspectives in the Fight Against Transnational Terrorism

  • M. Victoria Pérez-Ríos


In the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001 (hereinafter 9/11), the members of the United Nations (UN) developed a common front against international terrorism through the widespread adoption of 16 international counter-terrorism legal instruments and a pledge to foster inter-state cooperation. However, differences soon re-emerged in the implementation phase. While the government of the United States favored an exceptional or “war” approach to counter-terrorism, its European Union (EU) counterparts opted mainly for a rule of law or criminal justice approach. To assess the impact of these two approaches on international human rights, I examine counter-terrorism in the United States after 9/11, Spain after March 11, 2004 (hereinafter 3/11) and the United Kingdom (UK) after July 7, 2005 (hereinafter 7/7), with a focus on the right to due process and the right to be free from torture. Based on these case studies, I conclude, first, that since none of the three states has suffered another successful attack, the rule of law approach is at least as effective as the “war” approach. Second, States that follow the “war” approach are more prone to violations of human rights. And third, that upholding the rule of law fosters relevant counter-terrorism cooperation between the United States and Europe.


United Nations Geneva Convention Pretrial Detention Degrading Treatment Military Commission 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceJohn Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew YorkUSA

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