Britain's foreign secretary says human rights abuses should alert the international community to potential threats to security. Jack Straw told the U.N. Human Rights Commission that human rights abuses like ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, genocide in Rwanda and the flourishing of terrorist cells in Afghanistan should have alerted the international community much sooner to emerging security threats.

"For where human rights are ignored, experience shows that criminals and terrorists thrive and that regional and global security are at risk because chaos spreads," he said. "Ethnic cleansing by the likes of Milosevic, Tudjman and Karadic threatened to destabilize all of southeast Europe in the early 1990s, the genocide in Rwanda still reverberates in the continuing conflict in the Great Lakes region which has sucked in now eight African countries. September the 11 brought the chaos of Afghanistan to the heart of the Western world."

Mr. Straw said the link between human rights and security concerns applies also to Iraq, where he called the rights situation "appalling." He said alleged human rights abuses took place in Iraq long before its 1990 invasion and occupation of Kuwait.

Britain's top diplomat told the Commission that he was aware of unease in some quarters over the global war on terrorism and the U.S.-led anti-terrorism fight in Afghanistan. But he said there was no alternative to the military and political action undertaken there.

"The struggle for human rights, therefore, has to be a major part of the fight against terrorism," "And in reality there is no contradiction between the two."

But human rights groups, like the London-based Amnesty International, say the international war on terrorism is being used to perpetrate and justify human rights abuses against minorities and political opponents in many places around the world.