The anti-torture norm and cooperation in the CIA black site programme

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Does the interstate cooperation in the CIA rendition programme imply the anti-torture norm was severely degraded in the war on terror? Most scholarship currently suggests yes, pointing to the widespread cooperation of dozens of states, including many liberal democracies, in a programme designed to facilitate torture. This article argues that this conclusion is driven primarily by a focus on outcome, that states cooperated, and ignores the process through which cooperation happened. Using the data provided in the Senate report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme, this article demonstrates that studying the process of cooperation instead of merely the outcome allows us to see that the anti-torture norm had continuous causal effects that are currently unrecognised in the literature. This finding not only provides a counterpoint to much of the literature on the United States rendition programme that focusses on the negative human rights outcomes, but also builds on research which has argued that fundamental international human rights norms were not as damaged by American conduct in the war on terror as many scholars and activists had initially feared.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe International Journal of Human Rights
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)935-955
Publication statusPublished - 27. Jul 2016


  • torture
  • rendition
  • CIA
  • black sties
  • War on terror

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    Trump, Torture, and CIA Black Sites

    Vincent Charles Keating (Speaker)

    16. Jun 2017

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