Armed Conflict, Security and Human Rights

A number of discrete research projects make up the field of Armed Conflict, Security and Human Rights. These  projects draw on human rights law and jurisprudence, legal theory, constitutional law and theory and public international law, in exploring the relationship between rights, armed conflict and broader notions of  security. This relationship is complex and contradictory. On the one hand, States’ denigration of human rights in the name of counterterrorism or military effectiveness risks the durability of the human rights project itself. Security concerns constrain the implementation of human rights both lawfully (through limitations on rights written into treaty and constitutional texts) and in a discursive departure from international human rights law (when governments argue for wholesale derogation from human rights treaties, or pervasive amnesties for past crimes). Research projects in this field demonstrate how too much security can jeopardise rights, by exposing how states resist the judicial enforcement of human rights guarantees, and how human rights concepts might be misunderstood, misused or elasticated in state practice.  On the other hand, security is very often conceptualised as a pre-condition to the enjoyment of rights and the protections of the rule of law.   Some even argue, that security is a meta- right from which many other rights flow.  The threat that too little security presents to the enjoyment of basic human rights is an ongoing theme in human rights debates and policy on fragile states, while also being clearly articulated within the sustainable development goals.   Moreover, there is ample evidence of a rise of protective obligations within human and constitutional rights jurisprudence internationally which require States to protect and secure citizens.  Research projects in this field are hence also engaged in scrutinising this new trend, and documenting how human rights law and conceptions of the rule of law are themselves becoming prompts for an intensification of State coercion.