At altmuslim, civil rights attorney Sahar Aziz comments on the US Supreme Court’s recent decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project (pdf), which found the provision of conflict resolution training to terrorist groups unlawful:
The plaintiffs in HLP sought an injunction against criminal prosecution for training the Kurdistan People’s Party and the Tamil Tigers on how to use international law to resolve disputes peacefully. Both organizations are designated as terrorist by the U.S. government. Through training on conflict resolution mechanisms available at the United Nations and other international bodies, the plaintiffs hoped to dissuade these groups from resorting to violence as a means of resolving ostensibly intractable conflicts.
The Supreme Court, however, decided such efforts hold no social value. According to the majority opinion, such training only legitimizes the designated groups’ terrorist activities and threatens American national security. Losing sight of the substantial First Amendment free speech and association rights at issue, the Court adopted wholesale the government’s alarmist position. Any assistance to designated organizations on how to use the United Nations’ peaceful conflict resolution process purportedly makes it easier for them to recruit members, raise funds, and ultimately facilitate more terrorist attacks.
To the contrary, prosecuting American charities seeking to persuade organizations to drop their guns and pick up their pens undermines decades of progress made in promoting human rights as a means of countering violence. Had such a policy been in place in the 1990s, Americans’ pivotal intervention in ending Ireland’s bloody conflict would not have transpired. And the Irish could still be seeking justice through the barrel of a gun.
Paradoxically, much of the Court’s reasoning relied on deference to the executive branch in the arena of foreign affairs and national security. Yet, the ruling ultimately undermines the executive branch’s efforts to shift the global conflict resolution paradigm from violence to peaceful avenues of resolving grievances. Moreover, the ruling erodes the independence of America’s civil society. Rather than serve as a beacon of leadership within the international community, American civil society’s hands are now tied. Their courageous efforts to pursue peaceful means to resolve violent conflicts have been forfeited.
Read the full article here.