Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



war on terror; constitution; bill of rights; charter of rights; comparative constitutional law; Canada; USA; Australia


Common lawyers have focused too much on rights talk and especially on constitutionally entrenched Bills of Rights in critiquing Anti-Terrorism legislation enacted by democratic common law countries since September 11, 2001. This paper illustrates the ways in which rights talk acts as a distraction from fundamental principles of legality when Anti-Terrorism laws are considered, arguing that embedded rights play three roles antithetical to sustaining governance in accordance with fundamental principles of legality: the roles of paper tiger, Trojan horse, and narcotic.


Published in Miriam Gani & Penelope Mathew, eds, Fresh Perspectives on the 'War on Terror' (Canberra: Australian National University-E Press, 2008) & A V Narsimha Rao, ed, Constitutionalism: An International Perspective (Hyderabad: Amicus Books, 2008).