Civil liberties are designed to prevent the government from intruding on the various manifestations of individuals’ freedom. Often, civil liberties and national security come into conflict. During times of national crisis, for example, nations—and in an increasingly globalized world, international institutions—must balance individuals’ civil liberties and national security.

This entry devotes particular attention to the United States and the rationale for civil liberties in that country; it also includes discussions of global issues and the policies of other nations. An understanding of what civil liberties are is enhanced by specific discussions of the way in which civil liberties have been reflected in the legal systems of various countries and in the emerging field of international law. The entry then discusses some of the main areas in ...

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