Pulling Together? Consensus, Security & Human Rights in the UK
Sociology & Social Policy University of Southampton Southampton, Hampshire
In this paper I focus on the interplay of securitizing and desecuritizing processes surrounding the consensus building activities of the Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his Home Secretary (Jacqui Smith) on the matter of "public security". At the same time the paper examines the relationship between the latter and the question of "the right to have rights" that has dominated human rights policy in Britain in recent years.
Thus, in the paper I will argue that Brown and Smith's consensus building activities are being enacted through a combination of securitizing and desecuritizing processes (or more accurately desecuritization in the context of already successful securitization) which are in turn being articulated in conjunction with a highly resonate "human welfare" inflected discourse of "human security" designed to appeal to a shared sense of common fate. It will be argued here that the Prime Minister and Home Secretary's attempts to garner Parliamentary support for their counter terrorism strategy (in this instance, the extension of pre-charge detention) coincides with Justice Secretary (and Lord Chancellor) Jack Straw's recommendations with regards to the next steps for Britain's human rights policy. In this paper I will examine the discourses associated with the process of attempting to build a consensus on security and the simultaneous process of shifting the balance in human rights in favour of "public security". The paper is therefore an exploration of (1) the interplay of securitizing and desecuritizing processes; (2) the re-calibration of security away from "national security" perspectives to a more emphatic definition of security and threat in "individual" terms; and, (3) The shifting legislative (and human rights) landscape in response to what are presented as new security threats.