Terrorism and human rights

The issue of terrorism has been a concern of the United Nations for decades. In recent years, as the threat of terrorism has grown more urgent, UN programmes and agencies have intensified efforts to strengthen international engagement to combat terrorism at the legal and political level. The foundation for this struggle is respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.

Actions against terrorism

The Security Council has taken action in countering terrorism through a range of resolutions and by establishing subsidiary bodies. Resolution 1373, S/RES/1373(2001) from September 28, 2001 calls upon increased international cooperation to prevent and suppress terrorist acts. It established a Counter Terrorism Committee to monitor States' implementation of the resolution, with the assistance of appropriate expertise.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights has elaborated by releasing a Digest of Jurisprudence of the UN and Regional Organizations on the Protection of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism.

In 2005, an Independent Expert - a Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism was appointed to make recommendations and identify, exchange and promote best practices on measures to counter terrorism which also respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to report regularly to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

The Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the Ad Hoc Committee against Terrorism (established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996) prepare draft conventions to supplement existing international instruments dealing with international terrorism.

19 international conventions have been created in order to be instrumental in preventing terrorist attacks, each convention addressing a special form of terrorist act.

The Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) was established by the Secretary-General in 2005 and endorsed by the General Assembly through the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, (A/RES/60/288), which was adopted in 2006. For the first time, countries around the world agreed to a common strategic approach to fight terrorism. The strategy includes practical steps at the local, national and international level to prevent and combat terrorism and to ensure that human rights and the rule of law are always respected in the fight against terrorism.

The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) was established on 15 June 2017 through the adoption of UN General Assembly resolution 71/291. As suggested by Secretary-General in his report (A/71/858) on the capability of the United Nations to assist member states in implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact (former CTITF) and the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) were moved out of the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs into the new Office of Counter-Terrorism.

More on UN and terrorism

Human Rights, conventions and declaration

UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases

  • United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
  • UN iLibrary UN publications online covering different topics.
  • ODS full-text UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
  • Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
  • UNBIS Thesaurus a multilingual database of the controlled vocabulary used to describe UN documents.
  • Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
    • a list of all documents
    • a comprehensive subject index
    • an index to speeches
    • a voting chart of resolutions
  • United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.
Last modified: 2024-04-10