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International Seminar 2007 "The ban on torture: a principle under threat"

Lungern (Canton of Obwald, Switzerland), from 29 April to 2 May 2007



The ‘war’ on terrorism has been used to justify the introduction of military and legal measures that are posing a threat to the ban on torture. This is happening both in the United States and elsewhere. All around the world, governments are using this pretext to strengthen their security policies.

Civil society is finding it difficult to respond effectively to such attempts to undermine the ban on torture, which was in fact consolidated in 2002 by the adoption of an Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, setting up new prevention mechanisms. The fact is that the existing laws are not enough to keep the ban on torture alive and enable it to develop. We need to go back to the sources of such laws, their ethical basis, and to seek a better understanding of human dignity, the fear factor and the need for security felt by all human beings and which underpins so many political decisions.

That was what this three-day International Seminar aim to do, namely to understand the social factors that allow governments to practise torture, and to explore ways of resisting this trend. Participants benefited from their own rich variety of geographical backgrounds, as well as the presence of speakers with first-hand experience of the issues and academic expertise in the field. They have been given an opportunity to learn new ways of upholding the ban on torture and bearing witness to the fact that torture is totally incompatible with a Christian-based vision of Man and society.


30 April 2007:

- Observations by the ACATs on the social and political realities in their countries - Bernadette Jung

- The Influence of Fear and Security on Government Activities and Society in Connection to Protection of Human Rights in the Struggle Against Terror : The Israeli Narrative - Rachela Ere’l

1 May 2007:

- Strategies of a Torturing Regime - Paz Rojas

2 May 2007:

- Defeating the "Ticking Bomb" argument - Eric Prokosch

- The Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture - Edouard Delaplace

- The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment As a Tool in the Struggle against the use of Torture in Israel, An Israeli Perspective - Rachela ERE’L

- Some basic principles that explain why torture must be unconditionally rejected - Michel Stavrou

Other documents:

- Programme of the International Seminar

- Pictures of the Seminar