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The United Kingdom and Diplomatic Assurances: A Minimalist Approach towards the Anti-torture Norm

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In recent years, domestic counter-terrorism measures have reshaped the relationship between individual terrorist suspects and the state. Regional and international human rights frameworks regulating government behaviour during or after an emergency appear not to be a priority when set against national security concerns. The increasing reliance on diplomatic assurances and memoranda of understanding as means to fulfil the obligations stemming from the anti-torture norm is an illustration of this state approach. These agreements are not enforceable in law, however, they do form part of long established diplomatic practice. What distinguishes the pre- and post- 9/11 terrain is not the use of these agreements per se. Rather, it is the growing use of these agreements as part of extradition or deportation proceedings or as part of irregular transfers such as extraordinary renditions in order to reduce state obligations under the human rights framework. The heavy reliance on these agreements by the United Kingdom, particularly after 9/11, aptly illustrates the changing approach towards national security.

Affiliations: 1: Lecturer in Law, Liverpool Law School, Liverpool, UK


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