Law and History Review

Part IV. Law, War, and Human Rights

Exceptionalism Again: The Bush Administration, the “Global War on Terror” and Human Rights

Rosemary Foot

When former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, gave his farewell address in December 2006, he expressed his dismay at the Bush administration's conduct during its anti-terrorist campaign. The United States had given up its vanguard role in the promotion of human rights, he averred, and appeared to have abandoned its ideals and principles. There have been many statements similar to this one made in the period since September 2001. Even close allies, such as the British government, for example, have called for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility on the grounds that, as a symbol of injustice, it had tarnished the United States as a “beacon of freedom, liberty and justice.”

Rosemary Foot is Professor of International Relations and John Swire Senior Research Fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford <>. This article was first presented at a symposium on “Law, War, and History,” Boalt Hall School of Law, UC Berkeley, February 15-17, 2007. The author gratefully acknowledges the comments and questions of the audience, as well as the subsequent helpful suggestions from two anonymous reviewers for the journal, and from Professor Bruce Jentleson.