UN Special Rapporteur Martin Scheinin says …

Added Aug. 18, 2007: Linked with Martin Scheinin – Finland.

Published on Voltairenet: Interview with UN Special Rapporteur Martin Scheinin, by Sandro Cruz, 10 July 2007.

The locking up of individuals on the US base of Guantanamo, Cuba, is an arbitrary form of dentention part of the CIA secret prisons program discreetly refered to as “proxy detentions”. Contrary to the claims of certain governments, there is no such thing as a global war against terror, and Al Qaeda is but a metaphor. Martin Scheinin is a Finnish Law professor and was recently appointed as UN Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of Human Rights. He’s interviewed by Sandro Cruz for the Voltaire Network … (see the full long interview) …

… and the last question of Sandro Cruz:

After 9/11, the United States launched what they called a long global war on terror. What is your opinion on that?


Martin Scheinin: My assessment, which is not an official assessment as special rapporteur, is that there is not such a thing as a global war against terrorism. There may have been temporary situations where the fight against terrorist groups qualifies as an armed conflict under the Geneva Conventions or its protocols too, either we are speaking on an international armed conflict, which was for a short while the situation in the armed conflict between the United States and the Taliban regime of Afghanistan, that was an international armed conflict. And then we might have non-international armed conflicts between one state or several states on one side and an army on the other, a terrorist group that is organized in a manner that it qualifies as an armed force.

There may be pockets of that kind of a situation, but I don’t see the global war between states and Al Qaeda as anything more than a metaphor. I don’t see Al Qaeda as qualifying as a global army that could be party of a global, never-ending armed conflict. Maybe there are pockets of that kind of situation when we speak of a more strictly defined hierarchical organized group and concrete acts of violence, but generally it is not that situation.

In overall developments, I think world globalization is important because globalization entails that states actually have lost part of their control over what’s happening in the world; other actors are increasingly important, such as multinational corporations, international financial institutions, other intergovernmental organizations and finally cross border criminal organizations including violent criminal organizations, such as terrorist groups, they have become actors of their own power across national borders and states have lost terrain as to whether they can control events over the world. This is why new forms of international terrorism are more dangerous than the previous ones, but it should not make us conclude that there is a never-ending, global, armed conflict that qualifies as a war. I don’t think we are there, I don’t think we are getting there, I think it is still a question of crime and fighting crime at the international level …

Remark: Martin Scheinin was born November 4, 1954 in Helsinki, Finland. He is a Law professor of the Abo Akademi University in Finland. He was appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while countering Terrorism for the period 2005-2008.

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