top of page

Intelligence and Human Rights in the Era of Terrorism

By Keshav Patel, Research Scholar, MGCGVV Chitrakoot (MP), India.


Post World War II scenario, saw frequent changes in the political opinions and humanitarian concerns. The interests of global leaders on one side influenced the intellectual warfare over the resources on one hand and its newly developed face in the form of evolving terrorism. Time and on, situations of self-doubt and question over the concerns over development versus human rights have been posed before mankind, presenting an ever-expanding domain of terrorism and an evolving correction to this definition. The paper brings in the concept of terrorism in different lights and addresses the growing impact on the society that is unknowingly suffering terrorism in many ways. Researcher delves into this very sensitive aspect of human development that brought in terrorism of sorts as a by-product. The paper is based on a systematic analysis of literature and data available on the above aspect. The data has been sifted for details that present terrorism as a challenge to human rights in every domain; personal, religious freedom, social structure and conformity, education and technological freedom, making all a part of Global terrorism in some form or the other. The paper presents scope of studying each of the discussed faces of terrorism in both global and local contexts.

Keywords: Human Rights, Global Terrorism, intellectual war-fare, intelligence.


One of the man-made disasters is terrorism. With the speed and technology with which it is asserting control over the lives of people in general it has become crucial to have open debates on humanity versus terrorism more openly than ever. Like the open boundaries of terrorism that don’t discriminate between human and human and yet create a dividing line, it has created a voice in unison that speaks of human race and its future. Terrorism, like multiple -isms propagated in society has become a trend influencing the lives of many. Of the most dangerous type of- ism one can think of, terrorism, is more in mind than body making its abstract presence a bigger challenge for humanity. Since Terrorism is dependent on the human factor, it is important to realize the connection between the two; humanism and terrorism, and how these two interconnected factors give way to each other’s existence.

Terrorism is meant to create fear, and this fear is made pronounced in a such great voice that the right to existence of human has come to be challenged. The present study discusses at length some of the crucial areas including the understanding of ‘Human Rights’ and how the factors of Global terrorism have shaped the Human Rights and its relation with the Intelligence. The three important terms in discussion make an interdependent triad between human rights, intelligence and terrorism which has taken a global shape.

Objectives of the research:

The research intends to bring about a consolidated view of all the forms of terrorism existent in the world today and its relevance to the contemporary lifestyle mitigated by the technological advancement. The research also brings about a comparative view of how the definition of terrorism has found new horizons leading to a question on intelligence and human rights, with the involvement of modern means of knowledge access and the youth that is more equipped than ever with lesser employment avenues.

Review of previous researches:

In his book Steve Tsang talks on the subject with great eloquence on the pronouncement on the era of global terrorism with the episode of September 11, 2001 when 19 suicide bombers hijacked the planes and flew them over the world trade centers bringing about a whole new definition to the earlier conservative treatment of the word terrorism. This was one of the largest incidences in the history of mankind that took humanity at toll. The book systematically deals with the loopholes in intelligence and this episode presenting a question on the human rights as a global affair. (Tsang, 2007) Further an article titled Transatlantic intelligence and security cooperation by Richard J. Aldrich discusses on the Madrid attack of 2004 and exchange of intelligence in the execution of this attack. (Aldrich, 2004).

Research Gap:

The previous researches have addressed the individual episodes of violence qualifying for the definition of terrorism. They have dealt the term in a limited sense of location. The present article presents a more global eye to the threat and has also produced an impeding development to it presented by the combination of unemployed educated youth with technological knowledge and having assistance of global funding through the terrorist groups. This paper presents the combination of the intelligence, human rights and terrorism in light of this fresh face of terrorism.

What are Human Rights?

Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948 forms the single most document defining International human rights and the 30 articles enshrined in the same make for every detail that embolizes the right to dignified human existence. The third Geneva Convention discusses the issue of treatment of prisoners of war (POW). The ethical treatment of prisoners of war is a touchstone for the International human rights issues. In light of the present subject in discussion the situation of war is different from that of the conventional understanding of war between two countries. Terrorism on one hand infringes the human rights of the individuals who are victimized and on the other hand creates a question on the rights of those who are suspected to be involved as unlawful combatants (Luban, 2002).

Fact sheet no. 32 of Office of United Nations, High Commissioner for Human Rights discusses on Human Rights, Terrorism and Counter-terrorism and states, ‘Human rights are universal values and legal guarantees that protect individuals and groups against actions and omissions primarily by State agents that interfere with fundamental freedoms, entitlements and human dignity. The full spectrum of human rights involves respect for, and protection and fulfilment of, civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, as well as the right to development. Human rights are universal—in other words, they belong inherently to all human beings—and are interdependent and indivisible. (Rights, 2008).

What is Terrorism?

The GTI 2018 quotes; “Defining terrorism is not a straightforward matter. There is no single internationally accepted definition of what constitutes terrorism, and the terrorism literature abounds with competing definitions and typologies.” Terrorism is an act of violence that targets civilians in the pursuit of political or ideological aims. (Rights, 2008) The Exhibit 1.1 shows the figures taken from the GTI 2018.

Suggested Citation:

Patel, Keshav, Intelligence and Human Rights in an Era of Global Terrorism (April 5, 2019). Proceedings of the World Conference on Media and Mass Communication, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2019). Available at SSRN:


bottom of page