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Abstract

Guantánamo Bay has become a symbol of the United States’ approach to the War on Terror. The detention center is globally known for the human rights violations committed there; yet, the international community has failed to take actions to successfully close the facility through either the use of pressure on the U.S. government or by utilizing enforcement mechanisms against the United States as it would any other nation committing proportional human rights violations. The United States’ actions at Guantánamo Bay violate its obligations under the Third Geneva Convention, the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture (CAT), and customary international law. Violations of international law at Guantánamo include illegal and indefinite detention, torture, inhumane conditions, unfair trials (military commissions), and many more. These human rights violations, however, remain unpunished or remedied. It is clear to the international community that there were, and continue to be, violations of human rights norms at Guantánamo Bay, but there has been little success in provoking change because of the lack of enforcement mechanisms in international human rights law. This Note discusses the background behind the detention facility at Guantánamo, its role in the War on Terror, and the facility’s current state, and further outlines the international laws by which the United States must abide, with descriptions of the treaties and covenants to which the nation is a party, and what the United States argues its human rights obligations are under international law. It describes the alleged human rights violations that occurred at the facility and how the U.S. government construes these violations and discusses the issues the international community has faced in attempting to enforce human rights norms at Guantánamo, including how the international community has responded to the violations, and how successful these responses were in creating change.