11 Sep 2008

Security, Risk and Human Rights: A vanishing relationship?

Anastassia Tsoukala

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In contrast to many studies that link the weakening of human rights to the post-September 11 counter-terrorism policies, this paper seeks to attribute it to the gradual disappearance of the person as subject of rights in our contemporary legal systems. It argues that this vanishing legal personhood is not the side-effect but the natural outcome of the prevalence of the risk-focused mindset in both the crime control and the human rights realm since the late 1970s. To present this argument, it describes briefly the key features of the risk-focused mindset in order to show how they jeopardise or even negate personhood, and how they correlate with certain deep changes in the legal frame of the protection of human rights in a democracy.