The ‘Gänseliesel’ (Goose Girlis), a historical fountain erected in 1901, represents the most well-known landmark of the city of Goettingen.

Human Rights in Times of Terror - Is Collective Security the Enemy of Individual Freedom?

Jutta Limbach



I have chosen a subject that concerns our two states - Israel and Germany - and that time and again poses a challenge to our courts: the respect of human rights in times of terrorism. In Israel as in Germany there exists a firm consensus on the need to fight terror. In both states there is much controversy regarding the best way to conduct this fight. The question is raised whether collective security is the enemy of individual freedom. As Aharon Barak rightly stated: “Fighting against terrorism in an effective manner entails finding the right balance between security and public interests, on one hand, and the need to safeguard human rights and basic freedoms, on the other.”[1]


This dilemma is well known to the Israeli legal system. Since its foundation, the state of Israel has been the target of threats to its existence and of terrible terrorist activities. Therefore the Israeli experience - not only in the legal-judicial field - is important for those, who are involved in the fight against terrorism. I have to thank my former colleague Aharon Barak, who informed me regularly, and with regard to my speech today, of the decisions of the Supreme Court concerning torture, the separation fence and other questions in this context.

[1] Aharon Barak, Introduction: The Supreme Court and the Problem of Terrorism, in: Israel Supreme Court (ed.), Judgments of the Israel Supreme Court: Fighting Terrorism within the Law, 2005, 5.


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