Human rights, civil liberties form the heart of Barratt’s new book

Bethany Barratt, director of the Joseph Loundy Human Rights Project and associate professor of political science wrote books such as “Human Rights and Foreign Aid” and “The Politics of Harry Potter.”

Her newest book, “Human Rights in a Post 9/11 World,” is a collection of edited works from political scientists, policymakers, legal scholars and activists.

The Open Society Foundation (OSF) commissioned Barratt to write the book as part of its series for high school and college students on challenges in world politics. Her book collects and simplifies the work of legal scholars, political scientists, policymakers and activists.

“We either explain or strip out specialist language and jargon that is unnecessary, explain the historical and philosophical background of current debates and raise questions that unify all the readings within each section,” Barratt said.

Barratt was asked to be the editor because of her role in the Joseph Loundy Human Rights Project. The project was the host of a major conference on human rights since 9/11 in 2010. The conference marked the first collaboration between the human rights sections of the American Political Science Association and the other two major scholarly organizations in the field.

“It was such a success we’ve had two follow up conferences — Glasgow last year and then next year in Istanbul,” Barratt said.

Barratt noted that there was much “hand-wringing” over Edward Snowdon’s leaked information in May regarding the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. However, Barratt stated that this didn’t just happen out of nowhere.

“There were very particular people and agencies responsible,” Barratt said. “And very particular tactics that allowed that kind of erosion of civil liberties — and far worse abuses — to occur.”

According to Barratt, the Snowdon revelations demonstrate how the more subtle erosions of human rights can be the most dangerous. These smaller examples can go undetected for much longer than the more dramatic ones, and thus cause larger impacts in the long run.

With the edited collection, Barratt stated that the book has more of an international focus, rather than just concentrating on human rights in the U.S.

Most Americans remember where they were on 9/11. Barratt is no exception to this. However, she wasn’t in the U.S. when the attacks occurred.

“I was on a plane from San Francisco to Beirut,” she said. “We had a plane change in Zurich and our flight on to Lebanon kept getting delayed further and further. Finally, an Irish couple heard us talking and told us we needed to find a TV that was broadcasting CNN International. By the time our flight was cancelled altogether, all the hotels in a hundred mile radius were full and they were shipping stranded tourists out to Germany.

“The most striking thing was the incredible camaraderie and sympathy everyone expressed to us in the week we were stranded. America had a lot of good will from the rest of the world that we could have used to build bridges with after 9/11.”


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