Protecting human rights while countering terrorism

In accordance with its thematic strategies, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) supports Member States in their efforts to ensure that their security policies, strategies and measures are grounded firmly in respect for human rights and the rule of law. Through its field offices and at headquarters, OHCHR also promotes human rights and the rule of law as the fundamental basis of national, regional and international counterterrorism policies and strategies through technical assistance and capacity-building initiatives, as well as monitoring, advocacy for and reporting on human rights-compliance in the counterterrorism context. The Office supports various human rights mechanisms, including the human rights treaty bodies and special procedures mandates, whose work is critical to the promotion and protection of human rights in the counter-terrorism context.

The OHCHR is engaged as an active member of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) and promotes the mainstreaming of human rights across the work of the CTITF, in particular through its role as co-chair of the Working Group on Promoting and Protecting Human Rights and the Rule of Law while Countering Terrorism. The High Commissioner regularly has called upon the CTITF and its entities to intensify efforts to promote respect for human rights and the rule of law as the fundamental basis of the fight against terrorism, and has promoted compliance with human rights as an integral part of assistance to States in the development and implementation of counter-terrorism-related legislation and policy.

Relevant thematic reports of the High Commissioner to the Human Rights Council include the following issues in focus:

Accountability and reparations A/HRC/13/36 (paras. 19-48)
Due process and targeted sanctions A/HRC/16/50 (paras. 16-27)
A/HRC/8/13 (paras. 45-51)
Economic, social and cultural rights A/HRC/12/22
Foreign fighters A/HRC/28/28 (paras. 31-53)
International cooperation A/HRC/4/88 (paras. 8-31)
Legislative measures taken by States A/HRC/28/28 (paras. 21-30)
A/HRC/8/13 (paras. 18-23)
Preventing and countering violent extremism A/HRC/33/29
Prohibition of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment A/HRC/8/13 (paras. 32-39)
Right to fair trial A/HRC/22/26 (paras. 21-49)
A/HRC/16/50 (paras. 28-40)
A/HRC/8/13 (paras. 40-44)
Right to privacy A/HRC/28/39
A/HRC/8/13 (paras. 24-31)
Victims A/HRC/22/26 (paras. 47-49)
A/HRC/8/13 (paras. 52-56)

Reports of the Secretary-General on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism to the General Assembly, which also highlight developments within the UN human rights system related to countering terrorism, have included a focus on:

Report of the Secretary-General on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism A/74/270
Derogatory measures: scope and justification A/63/337 (paras. 14-62)
Diplomatic assurances and transfers of individuals suspected of terrorist activity A/61/353
Judicial scrutiny of counter-terrorism measures, the transfer of individuals suspected of terrorist activity and secret detention A/62/298
Recent developments in the United Nations in the area of human rights and counter-terrorism


Right to fair trial A/63/337 (paras. 63-74)
A/72/316 (paras. 37-41)
Victims A/72/316 (paras. 22-25)

Negative effects of terrorism on human rights

In its resolution 31/30, the Human Rights Council requested the High Commissioner to submit to it, at its thirty-fourth session, a report on the negative effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly the right to life, liberty and security of person, while paying particular attention to best practices and major challenges in this regard. For the report A/HRC/34/30, the OHCHR sought inputs from Member States, through their Permanent Missions in Geneva and New York; international and regional organizations; national human rights institutions; and non-governmental organizations, through notes verbales sent on 25 July 2016. Contributions were received from the following 17 Member States, 8 national human rights institutions, 2 international and/or regional organizations and 15 non-governmental organizations.

Contributions received from States

Contributions received from International and Regional Organizations

Contributions received from National Human Rights Institutions

Contributions received from Non-Governmental Organizations