Sustainable security depends on vitality of democratic institutions, civil society


Security and prosperity depend on the vitality of democratic institutions, including civil society, but loose definitions of terrorism are being exploited to close civic space and enhance authoritarian politics, according to Shannon N. Green and Lana Baydas of the Human Rights Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

A comprehensive and multidimensional definition, coupled with accountability mechanisms that would be triggered when counterterrorism imperatives are abused, would lead to an environment in which civil society has the space and independence to operate, they contend:

Furthermore, the United States needs to create policy processes whereby tensions between counterterrorism objectives and human rights can be worked through in a way that best advances U.S. interests. The lack of dialogue between these two camps has resulted in setbacks for civil society and missed opportunities to build on the mutually reinforcing nature of security and human rights. It is in the interest of the United States to support the development in partner countries of democratic institutions that can uphold the rule of law, manage political and societal disputes, and protect civilians from harm.

It is necessary to reengage in the discussion on how to strike the right balance between countering terrorism and protecting human rights, Green and Baydas conclude.

Shannon N. Green is a senior fellow and director of the Human Rights Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Lana Baydas is a research fellow with the CSIS Human Rights Initiative.


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