It can hardly be contested that it is immoral to intentionally harm another human being, especially with the specific intent of creating excruciating pain. The use of such a technique, in effect, condones intentionally causing physical pain in the same way that the death penalty, in a way, condones murder. In fact, article five of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."" However, can this ideal be valued over a large number of innocent human lives? In the "bomber scenario,"" as set forth in Michael Levin's article, "The Case for Torture,"" "a terrorist has hidden an atomic bomb on Manhattan Island which will detonate at noon on July 4 unless (here follow the usual demands or money and release of his friends from jail.) Suppose, further, that he is caught at 10 a.m. of the fateful day "preferring death to failure "won't disclose where the bomb is."" It is apparent that if the authorities follow due process, millions of people on Manhattan will die. It might seem at first that the police have an obligation to torture the terrorist to obtain the information necessary to save innocent lives, but when one considers the totality of the situation, it becomes apparent that the terrorist must not be tortured. .
Aside from the UDHR, there have been other international efforts to denounce torture, even in this type of scenario. Article seven of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."" It may seem that the bomber scenario can be a justified exception, but the UN "Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,"" agreed upon by all 144 nations of the UN, states in part that, "Exceptional circumstances such as a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability, or other public emergency may not be invoked as a justification of torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.