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Latest Review of UN’s Global Counter-terrorism Strategy Shows Lack of Attention to Human Rights

admin - July 16, 2018

On June 26th 2018, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 72/284, which reviewed the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. In response to the review, Fair Trials has co-signed a letter with 14 other leading human rights NGOs, highlighting the threat to human rights posed both by the strategy, and the review’s failure to adequately address some of the grave human rights violations that have come out of the global response to terrorism.

The Strategy was first adopted in 2006, and has subsequently been reviewed every two years since. The Strategy is made up of four pillars:

  • Pillar I: Measures to address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism
  • Pillar II: Measures to prevent and combat terrorism
  • Pillar III: measures to build States’ capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the United Nations system in this regard
  • Pillar IV: Measures to ensure the protection of human rights and the rule of law while combating terrorism

Despite human rights supposedly constituting a key pillar of the Strategy, mainstreaming human rights as part of counter-terrorism strategies is ‘too often neglected’. Indeed, at the General Assembly where the review was adopted, the representative from Switzerland stressed that the fourth pillar ‘continued to be the weakest and least well‑funded pillar in the United Nations architecture’.

Although the letter recognises that States must take collective action to protect people against the threat of terrorism, over the last two decades, this protection has often come at the price of sacrificing the most basic human rights. From the use of drones in extra-judicial killings and the use of torture against terrorist suspects, to the people imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for years on end with no due process or fair trial rights, the global response to terrorism has been disastrous for human rights.

The letter also highlights the need for a more gendered perspective in counter-terrorism approaches, and laments the reviews failure to address this. It emphasises that without a gender analysis of discrimination, violence, and lack of access to resources for women and other minorities, counter-terrorism efforts may be doomed to fail.

Furthermore, the letter expressed deep disappointment that at a time when civic space is being systematically eroded around the world, in many cases under the pretext of countering terrorism, the review does not recognize the essential role that civil society plays in guarding against abusive counter-terrorism practices and working with society at the grassroots level to counter terrorist ideologies.

For more information, read the full letter here.

As well as Fair Trials, the letter was signed by:

  • Amnesty International
  • ARTICLE 19
  • Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Global Center on Cooperative Security
  • Human Rights Clinic (Columbia Law School)
  • Human Rights Watch
  • International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL)
  • International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  • Open Society Justice Initiative
  • Privacy International
  • Reprieve
  • Rights Watch UK

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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