Letter to the Editor from Manfred Nowak, What does extraterritorial application of human rights treaties mean in practice?
[Editor’s Note: Just Security is holding a “mini forum” on the extraterritorial application of human rights treaties in light of the release of two State Department memos and the US appearance before the UN Human Rights Committee the week of March 10, 2014. This series includes posts from Jennifer Daskal, Daphne Eviatar, Ryan Goodman, Jonathan Horowitz, Marko Milanovic, and Beth Van Schaack (here and forthcoming), and Letters to the Editor from Manfred Nowak and Martin Scheinin.]
This week the 4th periodic report of the US under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR) will be examined by the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva. One of the most controversial issues is the international obligation of the US, as of any other State party, to respect and apply the rights of the Covenant not only to its own citizens at home, but also in relation to acts of its military, security or intelligence agents abroad. Does the US violate its international human rights obligations when its agents detain, torture or kill (e.g. by means of drones) people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen or any other country in the world, when suspected terrorists are detained and subjected to harsh interrogation methods at Guantanamo Bay or in secret CIA detention centers around the world or when the NSA subjects millions of human beings in all corners of our planet to secret electronic surveillance? In the following, I will attempt to answer these questions on the basis of international human rights law, practice and jurisprudence. My contribution will, however, not deal with the equally controversial question closely related to this, namely the applicability of international human rights law in times of armed conflict.… continue »