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Human Rights as a Security Threat: Lawfare and the Campaign against Human Rights NGOs

Neve Gordon
Thu, 06/05/2014
In this article, I show how the term lawfare is being deployed as a speech act in order to encode the field of human rights as a national security threat. The objective, I claim, is to hinder the work of human rights organizations that produce and disseminate knowledge about social wrongs perpetrated by military personnel and government officials, particularly evidence of acts emanating from the global war on terrorism—such as torture and extrajudicial executions—that constitute war crimes and can be presented in courts that exercise universal jurisdiction. Using Israel as a case study, I investigate the local and global dimensions of the securitization processes, focusing on how different securitizing actors—academics, nongovernmental organizations, think tanks, policy makers, and legislators—mobilize the media, shape public opinion, lobby legislators and policy makers, introduce new laws, and pressure donors to pave the way for a form of exceptional intervention to limit the scope of human rights work.
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