Browsing by Subject "human rights"

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  • Baloch, Suvi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Violence against women is a deep-rooted global injustice, yet it is less often scrutinized as a category of political economy. In this research relating to human rights advocacy in Pakistan, I seek to do so. I study the ways in which local women's rights organizations attempt to hold state to account for eliminating the malice and removing its structural causes. In particular, I examine how feminist constructions of VAW and advocacy practices towards curbing it take part in the politics of development. The research is based on fieldwork which I conducted in the mid-2010's in urban Pakistan. Interviews with 17 informants representing 12 women's rights groups, NGOs and government agencies constitute the primary data. I use ethnographic lens in mapping the organizational field, yet my main deconstructive method is critical discourse analysis. The research is underpinned by post-development theory, postcolonial feminist critique, anthropology of modernity and feminist violence research. The findings consist of three discourses and two developmental logics. Each discourse explains VAW as an issue of individual infringement of rights and a question of state structures with a distinct orientation – those of gender equity, legal protection and political reform. The discourses are rooted in 'human rights developmentalism' and neoliberalism, yet they are still locally contingent in varied ways. The developmental logics of 'saviorism in solidarity' and 'commonsense hope' render visible ways in which the organizations deploy civilisation narrative and an unquestioned hope in aid's capacity to deliver 'development' as political resources. I argue that the discourses construct VAW by reference to apolitical notions of 'backwardness' not only to justify organizational advocacy practices that center upon delivering "higher awareness and morals" to the "ignorant masses". Instead, such notions contribute to building a counter discourse to the misogynous state ideology as well as an alternative political space that enables women's rights organizations persevere in Pakistan. While the discourses fail the 'beneficiaries' of aid by upholding empty developmentalist promises, they nevertheless do not exacerbate VAW. The research suggests that development ideologies, albeit contributing to global inequalities, may serve as meaningful political tools for undoing local adversities.
  • Sormunen, Milka (2019)
    The obligation to consider the best interests of the child in all cases concerning children has a central status in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989. This article provides a systematic comparison of how the best interests concept is understood and used in child protection and immigration jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. The article compares all child protection and immigration judgments where the court has referred to the best interests of the child until the end of 2017. It shows that the court assesses the best interests of the child differently in the two case groups. First, in child protection cases, the court assumes that it is in the child’s best interests to live with her parents, whereas in immigration cases, family unity is not the starting point of the court. Secondly, in immigration cases, the child’s young age is understood as adaptability, whereas in child protection cases, young age is associated with care needs. Thirdly, the court has considered children’s views in several child protection cases but rarely in immigration cases. This article argues that, from the perspective of children’s rights, the court’s approach in immigration cases is problematic.
  • Pape, Christopher (2010)
    This thesis is a study of the English Catholic journal, the Tablet, and the way in which the concept of human rights was presented and developed in its reporting on Poland from 1978-1983. The analysis is undertaken through a study of the language related to human rights in the relevant editorials and articles published in the period. The method used to analyse the primary material makes use of rhetorical theories of Kenneth Burke, specifically his theory of dramatism. The main analysis is contextualised by studies of the various aspects which help to construct the journal's world view politically, with emphasis on its understanding of human rights, and the nature of its intended audience. The relevant political background in Britain and Poland is examined, as is contemporary rhetoric on human rights emanating from the Catholic Church and the West, which attest to the relevance of the topic. The research question asked by the paper is, 'In what way and to what end are human rights discussed politically in the Tablet in relation to Poland between 1978 and 1983?' The thesis concludes that the Tablet uses the language of rights to promote a certain political agenda and that it describes different groups in terms of rights in different ways in order to influence the political opinions of its readers. The language of rights is specifically used to legitimise the political actions of the Catholic Church, and to positively promote a specifically Catholic ideology in which the Church is very closely associated with the idea of rights. By opposition, it is used to attack the communist government of Poland, and by extension the communist political system as a whole. The language of rights is used to affect reader's opinions about power relations and authority. The thesis ends by asserting that through its use as a legitimising agent, the notion of rights has to a degree lost its specific meaning, and become a term which simplifies the reports in which it is contained through associations made by the reader.
  • Tulokas, Iida (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    This Master’s thesis is concerned about the political and normative consequences that rise from viewing migration and refugees as a security threat. The issues of migration and asylum cross thresholds of state sovereignty and human rights. It has been found that liberal democratic states offer moral justifications for controlling entry of aliens, however this is ethically problematic. The unit of analysis is the European Union because the current refugee crisis has challenged the role of the EU as a promoter of human rights and questioned the whole European integration project as well as the meaning of the EU as a community of values. This thesis attempts to answer the following research question: how the European Union has securitized its migration and refugee policy in the Common European Asylum System. Copenhagen School’s securitization theory serves as theoretical framework of this thesis because the deepened and widened understandings of security have allowed other issues than military to be included in security: political, societal, economical, environmental. Construction of security issues has three steps: 1) an issue is described as an existential threat, 2) that require emergency measures and 3) justifying actions outside the normal bounds of political procedure. In order to complement the securitization theory this thesis will utilize Norman Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis in order to deeply study the meanings of discourses that produce the social reality. After the analysis it is concluded that despite ideal assumptions of the EU as a place of refugee and exile, the practices in place show a different picture. It is evident that the focus is on how to protect the EU from refugees, not how to offer protection for refugees. The EU is the referent object that needs protection through exceptional measures and has the legitimacy to justify these actions outside normal policy procedures. This questions the normative role of the EU. Refugees are portrayed as a danger to the society, and they lack active role, which is highlighted in the right to freedom of movement. The EU has securitized migration and refugee policies by hard policy implementation: focus on border control, increase in surveillance and building fences. Thus, it has become evident that state sovereignty triumphs over the respect of human rights.
  • Timgren, Henrikki (2005)
    The aim of this thesis is to critically assess theories of global distributive justice against their statist and nationalist rivals, especially against liberal nationalism. For the sake of convenience these so-called cosmopolitan theories have been divided into "naïve" and "mature" variants. The main argument of this thesis is that while naïve theories - global contractarianism and utilitarianism - are morally over-demanding and insensitive to cultural pluralism and people's local attachments, mature theories steer clear of these problems, and hence vindicate the demand for a more just global distribution of economic and social goods. It is argued, however, that these mature theories, represented by the human rights-based approaches of Henry Shue and Thomas Pogge, have to limit their redistributive demands, at least initially, to securing the basic subsistence of people. Additionally, cosmopolitan theories are criticized for not providing specific enough blueprints for building a just global community.
  • Katsui, Hisayo; Kazakunova, Gulmira; Mojtahedi, Mina C. (2020)
    The main aim of this paper is to tease out the historical and deeply rooted ethical standards, spirituality, and social values that have long supported the social service system in Kyrgyzstan, which, today, faces pressure to align with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The data are based on an intervention conducted as part of the European Union‐Social Protection Systems programme in Kyrgyzstan between 2017 and 2018 where 30 university lecturers were part of. Interviews both to the Kyrgyz trainers with disabilities and to the trainees of the university lecturers as well as follow‐up survey conducted in 2019 form important part of data for this paper. We first investigate the conventional ethical standards, spiritual explanations, and social values related to disabilities within the Kyrgyz social protection system and social services. We elaborate on the Kyrgyz context of the societal ethics, spirituality, and values around disability in the Kyrgyz university education for social workers. Second, we analyse the transformation of the perception of disability among the university lecturers. We conclude this paper with a discussion on the negotiation between a charity‐based approach that reinforces the stigmatization of disability and a human rights‐based approach that promotes paradigm change, to contribute to global discourse of social change towards disability inclusion.
  • Bagdasar, Hannah (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    Crimes perpetrated by large corporate actors are often met with impunity. This is particularly relevant in the case of the international core crimes and grave human rights abuses. Serious breaches of human rights were once thought to only committed by states and their actors, but as corporations grow to gain more power than that of some states, so grows their power to commit egregious abuses. As such, it is imperative to assess the mechanisms governing corporate actions, on both the international and domestic levels. This paper aims to provide a overview of the mechanisms governing corporate criminal liability for violations of the international core crimes through an assessment of ongoing soft law mechanisms, international tribunal precedent, domestic practices looking into best practices as well as common failures. Ultimately, the author finds that in order to effectively achieve criminal liability for corporate perpetrators of atrocity crimes, domestic paths must be pursued and strengthened before moving forward at the international criminal level. In the first part of this paper the author lays the ground work for how businesses can commit egregious abuses, and provides background on the ongoing frameworks of corporate social responsibility which dominates the human rights and business space. The second part looks into the international soft law mechanisms that largely govern how businesses operate with respect to human rights and preventing violations of the core international crimes. Several of the major mechanisms are selected and analyzed, along with a failed proposal by the United Nations, and a new Draft Treaty on Business and Human Rights. The third part looks at the how corporate criminal liability functions as part of international law customs and at international tribunals, with a look into the Nuremberg industrialist trials, the notable failure to include legal persons into the founding documents of the International Criminal Court, and a hopeful ruling regarding the jurisdiction over legal persons by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The fourth part focuses on domestic systems, looking into how corporate criminal liability is applied within two different jurisdictions, France and the United States, and one corporate accountability case that spans both jurisdictions. Finally, the author gives recommendations on what can be done in order to move forward with creating a more cohesive approach to corporate criminal liability for atrocity crimes at the international level, which is largely dependent on that of domestic systems.
  • Heikkilä, Mikaela; Katsui, Hisayo; Mustaniemi-Laakso, Maija (2020)
    Universal human rights of all are complemented with particular, targeted protection of some, especially those that traditionally have been left behind. By juxtaposing the ideas of universality and particularity, the article studies vulnerability as a particularising tool within human rights with a comparative approach to the influential vulnerability theory by Martha Fineman. By outlining the similarities and the differences between the two approaches of vulnerability theory and human rights project, the article sheds light on how the particular protection needs of persons with disabilities play out in the universalistic logic of vulnerability. The article argues that both universal and particular obligations of responsive states – and responsive humans – are needed as a way of materialising substantive equality for persons with disabilities as vulnerable legal subjects. Such obligations cannot be codified in full detail, but the intrinsic essence of rights requires each right to be interpreted in context and with regard to the particular individual vulnerabilities and resilience of each person. In operationalising the obligations arising from such rights, the human rights project and the vulnerability theory complement and reinforce each other in terms of specifying the rationale and the detailed benchmarks for state action.
  • Toivanen, Reetta; Kmak, Magdalena (Helsinki University Press, 2021)
    Within sustainability science, there are questions pertaining to how certain actions for guaranteeing a good life for one part of the population can even result in catastrophic consequences to another. The global holistic view that would address all inequalities and exclusions is one of the greatest challenges of today. In this chapter, we will elaborate on two central concepts of sustainability science that are particularly relevant to facing these challenges: inequality in access to power and exclusion from positions of power. These are both very visible acts of exclusion, often hidden in the very grain of society’s structure in a manner that makes them almost impossible to study and change. Inequality and exclusion are cultural constructions of power, and it is important to see how these influence practical actions and institutional (hidden) practices. The practices locate certain individuals or groups of people in a more disadvantaged position than others and naturalize these inequalities with a set of actions and explanations. This chapter will present the operation of these practices with two concrete, situated examples of migrants with irregular status in the European Union and the Roma minority in Finland.
  • Rantala, Marjo Helena (Routledge, 2018)
    In the chapter, Marjo Rantala describes the background behind the decision of Finnish feminist legal scholars to appeal a national femicide case to the CEDAW Committee. In the case, the lack of sufficient safety mechanisms in Finland for victims of domestic violence, particularly women, lethally resulted in what is often referred to in Finnish media as a "family tragedy": the death of a woman and her two children at the hands of her husband. Challenging national authorities before international organs, using international feminist normative instruments, is an example of Smart-inspired feminist legal engagement: invoking the supranational to develop current feminist readings of the law on the national level. Rantala discusses how Finnish feminist legal activism, the appeal to international organs, has the potential to seriously amplify feminist criticism, which is otherwise often sidelined on the domestic level.
  • Huotari, Miina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This study investigates the relationship between policy and practice of access to education within the architectures of humanitarian action. The importance of education as a human right has been internationally widely acknowledged, and more recently it has gained more foothold in discussions about humanitarian action practices. The thesis deploys a research approach that is based on discourse analysis. To analyse policy, internationally and universally recognized and applicable key documents dealing with access to education have been selected for further inspection. Practice is approached through semi-structured interviews with practitioners in the field of humanitarian action and education, and through a case study of Za’atari refugee camp in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Theoretically this thesis is inspired by poststructuralist development theory (PSDT) and its hyponym discursive institutionalism (DI). Based on these influences, I treat education as an institution that is subject to interventions by different actors and phenomena. The findings of this thesis demonstrate, on one hand, that education has become a more central aspect of policy regarding humanitarian action. On the other hand, the results sheer light on various challenges that actors on the practical side face while intending to implement and follow through on policies and principles of the before mentioned documents in the field. Actors that operate in the field are especially facing challenges with unstable financial resources and shortcomings in bringing policy closer to the needs of the field. The findings of this study also suggest that the importance of education as a central element of humanitarian action in crisis and conflict situations need to be realized further. This applies to both policy and practice, for education is now realized as a mean of protection rather than additional good or service.
  • Lehtola, Nina (2006)
    Millions of people in the world are affected by extreme poverty. Most of the citizens of the affluent western countries recognise that they have an obligation not to do harm to other people, no matter who they are, or whatever country they happen to live in. In addition, many people have a strong intuition that something should be done to help the people who are suffering in other countries, and that it would be just that everyone would have an adequate standard of living. The aim of this Master's thesis is to examine how the claim that justice should be realised on a global level could be justified. To do this, I will assess the arguments of Peter Singer, John Rawls, and Henry Shue, who base their theories on utilitarianism, contractarianism, and human rights respectively. Singer's argument is expressed in his article 'Famine, Affluence, and Morality' (1972). The basis of John Rawls's theory can be found in his A Theory of Justice (1971), and his later arguments concerning global justice in Law of Peoples (1999). However, expanding Rawls's theory on a global level is done by Charles Beitz and Thomas Pogge, whose arguments have been expressed in a selection of publications. Henry Shue elaborates his theory in his Basic Rights: Subsistence, Affluence, and U.S. Foreign Policy (1980). Even though these philosopher's have very different theoretical backgrounds and justifications for their arguments, their perspectives share the idea of universal humanity and equality between human beings. Thus it will become evident that the same outcome can be reached by very different routes. I will examine the theories, pick up their strong points and weaknesses, and evaluate whether their normative prescriptions could be realistically implemented. The aim is also to try to make the issue of global justice more understandable, clarify the important points, outline the framework of the discussion, and compare the different views taken on the subject. It will become clear that the theories are insufficient to give a justification for the question on global justice, as they face some insurmountable problems both on theoretical and practical level. Their incommensurability also makes it difficult to make comparisons to find out, which of them could be more useful or realisable. However, the theories have an important function, as they provide the framework, without which the conversation on the subject would be difficult, maybe even impossible. At the end of the thesis it will be suggested that perhaps the issue of global justice should be approached from a totally new perspective. The orthodox ways of thinking that have been taken for granted should thus be challenged. Whatever the case, the question and problems of global justice cannot be swept under the carpet, as they are something that become more urgent by day, effecting all human beings.
  • Matilainen, Mia; Kallioniemi, Arto (2011)
    There has been much discussion about the most suitable model of religious education (RE hereafter) in public schools all around Europe. The Finnish model of RE has attracted great interest, because in Finland RE is given according to one’s own religion. The Finnish model of RE is very unique and it emphasises the right of religious minorities to participate in RE according to their own religion in state-owned schools. In this article we examine headmasters’ conceptions of the current Finnish RE solution from the perspective of human rights. The study is based on qualitative interviews. Headmasters presented both advantages and disadvantages of the current RE solution. These advantages are briefly: freedom of religion, an opportunity to get RE according to one´s own religion, knowing one´s own roots, an opportunity to understand people from different religious backgrounds and an opportunity to study other religions for those students who are not members of religious communities. The limits of the solution are that it puts students into their own religious groups and this limits possibilities for religious dialogue, which should be one of the key elements of modern RE. RE has a strong potential to promote human rights. It is important to discuss different models of arranging education from the viewpoint of human rights. The human rights viewpoint should be central when dealing with the aims, contents and organization structure of RE. Different interpretations of religious freedom and the right to religious education are important considerations especially for RE.
  • Kuosmanen, Sonja (2021)
    The promotion of human rights has faced challenges in recent years in the United States and elsewhere. In this study, human rights discourses are examined in the context of strategic foreign policy rhetoric by the United States. The routine of foreign policy statements is meant to create audiences receptive to U.S. foreign policy aims, but also reveals underlying ideologies and assumptions. The analysis examines U.S. State Department Human Rights Country Reports between 2000 and 2019. The results show that the assumed ideal model of human rights is heavily based on U.S. political tradition. The performance of other countries is evaluated against the 'exceptionalist' U.S. model without consideration of different cultural or societal contexts. Linguistic choices are made to highlight the agency of authorities and events, which can be seen as a strategy of diplomatic face-saving. In some cases, countries are evaluated on an unequal basis based on political expediency.
  • Juvonen, Annimari (2008)
    Human rights discourse is one of the transnational languages, which may be used to approach migration. This study aims at sketching the ways how abstract human rights articulations, such as the convention drafted in the United Nations for the protection of the human rights of migrants and their families, are made meaningful in a particular context. The context of this study is the Portuguese society, and the distinct but overlapping relationship between the Church and the state. The convention protecting the human rights of migrants has not been ratified in any of the European countries so far, which the Catholic Church considers as a departure from the universality inherent to human rights. This study considers the way the Church aims at addressing its transnational audience and at criticizing the national and regional spheres through a common concept to both human rights and Catholicism, the universal human family. Human rights become meaningful to the Catholic actors through the concept of family, and the convention on the human rights of migrants is interpreted as a countermovement to the emphasis on individualism, characteristic to the human rights system - thus supporting the Catholic conceptualization about the foundation of the well-being of both the individual and the society. This study has relied on media sources to sketch the main features of the Portuguese discourse on migration and the particular situations in which human rights discourse is used. The homilies of Portuguese Bishops have provided the central concepts through which the relationship between human rights, religion, and the state are discussed. A concrete example of the way how the Catholic actors unite human rights claims with religious rhetoric is a concern over the human rights of migrants brought forward by Bishop Januário Torgal Ferreira during the pilgrimage of Fátima. The transformative power of a pilgrimage thus supports the human rights claims. The cult of Fátima, which holds a strong nationalist tradition due to the legacy of the dictatorship, is now a stage for transnational and modern ideas. The central observation of this study is that human rights discourse functions as a definer of the relationship between the Church and the state, because it is associated with Catholic humanism which aims at balancing the secular politics of the state. In the modern society this relationship is often perceived as distinct, because the interference of the supernatural in the politics of the secular state is not wanted. However, in the Portuguese society the Church has been constitutive to the history of the nation-state, and the so-called secularization process has not pushed it aside from the hegemonic position that it enjoys in the Portuguese society. This study traces the reasons which enable the religious to enter the public sphere of the modern society, and contribute to the construction of the intermediary role of the Catholic actors.
  • Elmgren, Ainur (2018)
    n the 1930s, activists fought for the protection of civil rights in the Republic of Finland, expanding the notion of rights to include also categories of people who had been previously excluded, such as political prisoners, the mentally ill, and foreign refugees. Two of these activists were the editor of the journal Tulenkantajat, Erkki Vala, and the chair of the League of Human Rights in Finland, Väinö Lassila. Their usage of the concept ‘human rights’, drawing from the traditions of liberal humanism, Christian anarchism and the socialist labour movement, is analysed in the national and international context of the interwar era. During the 1930s, Erkki Vala increasingly used the concept ‘human rights’ in ways that seem to predate the so-called starting point of modern human rights discourse in the 1940s. He met with compact resistance from the authorities, which contributed to his political marginalisation and radicalisation. This article shows that the notion of universal human rights was not unthinkable before the end of the Second World War, but it was heavily politicised and controversial even in a democratic country such as the Republic of Finland.
  • Salmenhaara, Perttu (2004)
    Object of the research is immigration political rhetoric and policy implementation in Finland between 1998 and 2004. The time period was fruitful for such research, since during this time the first steps toward common European migration policy were taken, implementation of national integration legislation begun, and discrimination legislation was reformed. At the same time begun a public and administrative discussion about ageing of the population and need for both 'replacement migration' as well as skilled labour from EU member states and third countries. A separate debate about asylum seekers' protection of law has been going on for several years in the public media, as well as between the State of Finland and the United Nations. The aim of the study is to evaluate the concept of 'proactive' immigration policy, represented by the outlines of common EU immigration policy, and evaluate how the developments in Finnish immigration policy between 19982004 corresponded to the objectives of 'proactive' premises. Research methods include argumentation analysis and analysis of policy implementation (outspoken goals / evaluation of effects). Theoretical context was social constructionism and so-called new rhetoric. The results include a Finnish language definition of the concept of proactive immigration policy, and a contradictory concept called reactive immigration policy. Proactivity seeks to prepare in advance to changes that happen in the object of policy and is connected to trans-national approach to international migration and to comprehensive management of immigration (reflective policy). Reactivity is connected to nation-state-based administration, in which immigration as such is seen as a threat since its definitions are connected to security discourses and to a Westfalenian judicial tradition (reflexive policy). Data that was used in the research, include administrative documents, Finnish and EU policy papers, evaluation reports, discussion papers, national and community legislation, official communication between the State of Finland and the United Nations and Council of Europe, press releases, newspaper articles and existing research literature.
  • Saikku, Katariina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that human rights are inalienable and belong to everyone without any large scale exceptions. Thus, supranational human rights bodies focus on monitoring human rights violations, instead of discussing to whom human rights in practice are seen to belong to. However, there are vast differences with how states view universal human rights, which is especially apparent when discussing the rights of sexual and gender minorities. This study set out to discover how states justify not including the rights of sexual and gender minorities under the protection of international human rights treaties by analysing statements made at the UN Human Rights Council. The material for this research were the statements made at the 41st meeting of the Human Rights Council’s 32nd session on the 30th of June 2016. This session voted for the establishment of an independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The session included 23 statements that were made either by a country representative who voted against the establishment, or by a representative whose country abstained from the vote. These statements were analysed with qualitative content analysis, by which nine justification categories were identified. These categories were titled Cultural Relativity, Imposing Values, Moral Grounds, Universality, Lack of Legal Basis, Sovereignty, LGBTI Definition’s Lack of Clarity, Human Rights Council’s Cohesion, and Resolution’s Lack of Clarity. These nine justification categories were further divided into three groups depending on the strength and aim of the argument. This research deduced that cover-up justifications (Lack of Legal Basis, LGBTI Definition’s Lack of Clarity, and Resolution’s Lack of Clarity) where used in arguments to divert the discussion from the root justifications, which were the arguments under Cultural Relativity and Moral Grounds. The statements in the third category (Universality, Sovereignty, Human Rights Council’s Cohesion, and Imposing Values) highlighted the differences with how universality and the mandate of the Human Rights Council is perceived. Understanding the justification categories identified in this research help to direct LGBTI advocacy and resources, and to critically asses the universality of human rights.
  • MORRIS, P. Sean (2020)
    The post war-on-terror era has witnessed several developments in international law, including the nature and function of national security. This article establishes a link between national security and human rights by looking at some practical implications from a State policy perspective and theoretical views. Any discussion on the two distinct areas of ‘national security’ and ‘human rights’ are, of course, not equal. However, the discussions in this article relate to how international law interacts with national security over human rights given that national security relates to a State’s domestic affairs but with implications for the international legal system. Thus, through theory and practice, this article demonstrates that national security and human rights are unstable. This article addresses the question of whether national security and human rights obligations are in conflict or whether international law has been over-responsive or under-responsive to either human rights or national security concerns.
  • Cantell, Mikko (2007)
    The weight of neoconservative ideology in world politics is generally identified and acknowledged. In spite of this more profound studies are found wanting. I attempt to make the ideology more understandable and approach it from a distinct point of view, examining neoconservatism's attitude to torture in the United States' 'Global War on Terror'. In so doing, my aim is also to clarify the thus far somewhat vague distinction between the current U.S. administration and neoconservatism in political and academic writing. I have utilized the theory of cognitive dissonance created by Leon Festinger to study the mechanisms in play concerning the different attitudes toward the use of torture. The theory has so far found very few applications in the study of international relations, but I believe there to be significant potential in its future use. On a more concrete level, I undertake to examine whether the core values of neoconservatism (human rights, liberal democracy, 'American values' and 'moral use of power') on the one hand, and condoning attitudes toward the use of torture on the other, give rise to an intolerable inner conflict that could be called cognitive dissonance. The use of torture is absolutely prohibited in international law, standards and norms. The most central internationally binding legal obligation prohibiting the use of torture is the Convention against Torture from 1984. The convention prohibits the use of torture in all cases and without exception. My study examines the question of torture in the context of the 'War on Terror' and the relation of torture to the individual. The individual rises in fact to be one of the most salient levels of analysis in the paper: each of neoconservatism's core values can be said to be based on defending the rights of the individual while torture can simultaneously be defined as being the ultimate denial of the individual worth and dignity. I conclude my study by asserting that neoconservatism's attitude toward torture has led to severe conflicts with its own core values. Although accurate definitions of the mechanisms used in alleviating the dissonance are impossible to find, the study gives evidence indicating that denial of responsibility and a rearranging of the hierarchy of internal values can have been included in the reduction of dissonance. I consider the notion that attempts to reduce dissonance typically 'spill over' to other seemingly unattached areas of decision-making very important. This means that in addition to core values or the fundamental level of ideology, past decisions also influence future decisions.