On Wednesday 2 May Newcastle Human Rights and Social Justice Forum conducted a one-day conference examining the fragile web of positive obligations which international law weaves in relation to counter-terrorism co-operation. Whilst successive United Kingdom governments have stressed the erga omnes nature of obligations to share information in the fields of security and intelligence, such general obligations remain nascent, placing the burden on bilateral agreements with countries such as the United States, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Some of these partner countries have proven themselves to be unreliable allies. They have threatened co-operation arrangements for geo-political advantage or to secure overseas aid. Their actions have potentially drawn the UK into complicity in breaches of the Torture Convention. Moreover, in the case of Pakistan in particular, in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden in a compound in the Pakistani garrison-town of Abbottabad, fresh questions have been raised as to the value of counter-terrorism co-operation in spite of the extensive resources invested in contacts with the Pakistani intelligence services (the ISI). This conference was hosted by Newcastle Law School and brought together 30 international relations experts, authorities on intelligence services and networks and international legal experts to evaluate the effectiveness of these security networks. Papers from the conference will feed into a special edition of the Journal of Conflict and Security Law. The Conference was generously suppported by a NIASSH grant.
published on: 4th May 2012