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Part II Predominant Security Challenges and International Law, Human Security, Ch.22 Institutionalized Inhumanity: From Torture to Assassination

Natasa Mavronicola

From: The Oxford Handbook of the International Law of Global Security

Edited By: Robin Geiß, Nils Melzer

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 20 May 2024

Torture — Right to life

Atrocity pervades human history. Over time, individuals and groups have wielded their relative power over other persons in a variety of cruel ways, not least torture and assassination. The legal framework that gradually emerged to counter such abuse reflected a deontic humanity—humanity not as it is, but as it ought to be. This deontic vision of humanity was premised on human dignity, an egalitarian idea according to which every single human person is fundamentally worthy of a certain level of respect. The lines set by international law are arguably orientated to serving as a bulwark against the desecration of this deontic humanity. The chapter considers the legal framework on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment and assassination, broadly conceived. It considers some of the main developments in respect of the law and the deontic humanity that underpins it as well as prominent challenges arising therein, at the heart of which are (national, global, or transnational) security structures, or appeals to security: from consequentialist arguments for abandoning the prohibition of torture, to the securitization of (groups of) persons in ways which contradict human dignity.

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