Western Democracies and Extraterritorial Human Rights Violations
Western democracies do comparably well when it comes to protecting the human rights of their own citizens and on their territory. When it comes to protecting the human rights of foreigners beyond their borders, the behavior of Western democracies is ambivalent, however. On the one hand, Western democracies do not shy away from committing extraterritorial human rights violations. One may think of the mass surveillance Western intelligence agencies rely on, of the cases of systematic torture in US prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, and of Australia’s practice to intercept refugees on the high seas and reroute them to countries in which human rights are not observed in all cases. Yet, on the other hand, Western democracies have established provisions for the extraterritorial protection of human rights in the past years. In some cases, even comparatively reliable protection provisions have emerged. In others, the evolution of protection provisions is still in its infancy. The aim of the project is therefore to examine why Western democracies establish provisions for the extraterritorial protection of human rights, and why, in some cases, more reliable protection provisions emerge than in others.
The project assumes that norms emerge if there is normative demand, but that such demand is no sufficient condition of norm emergence. Rather, there need to be mobilized actors who make decision-makers recognize a specific norm and introduce specific measures – in our case establish provisions for the extraterritorial protection of human rights. As such, the project aims to assess which causal mechanism, or mechanisms, can explain the establishment of provisions for the extraterritorial protection of human rights in Western democracies. Applying the method of theory testing process tracing, the project is to assess the explanatory value of four causal mechanisms, i.e. conditionality, strategic litigation, shaming and persuasion; moreover, following a comparative logic it intends to uncover the conditions on which comparatively reliable (rather than only rudimentary) provisions for the extraterritorial protection of human rights emerge. For this purpose, the project will comprise five qualitative case studies on the evolution of provisions for the extraterritorial protection of human rights in the US in relation to counter-terrorism policies since September 11, 2001. Specifically, the project will cover case studies on the evolution of provisions for the extraterritorial protection of the right to be free from torture, of the right to protection from arbitrary detention, of the right to life (targeted killing), of the right to asylum, and of the right to privacy (mass surveillance).
Heupel, Monika (2018): How Do States Perceive Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations? Insights from the Universal Periodic Review, Human Rights Quarterly, forthcoming.
Heupel, Monika (2017): Umkämpfte Verantwortungszuschreibung: Extraterritoriale Menschenrechtsverletzungen der USA in der Terrorismusbekämpfung, Politische Vierteljahreschrift, Special Issue 52: Politik und Verantwortung: Analysen zum Wandel politischer Entscheidungs- und Rechtfertigungspraktiken (eds. Christopher Daase/Valentin Rauer/Stefan Kroll/Julian Junk), forthcoming.