ICJ urges UN experts to keep focus on human rights in terrorism report

The ICJ has urged expert members of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee to focus on the most direct and acute human rights issues, including a human-rights based approach to victims of terrorism, as the Committee prepares a report on “effects of terrorism on all human rights”.

In an oral statement to the Advisory Committee’s ongoing 24th session in Geneva, the ICJ expressed grave concern about the content of the latest draft of the report, and the potential negative consequences for human rights protection of the report in its current form, and urged the Advisory Committee:

  • To substantially revise and refocus the report to include a clear recommendation to the Council that the exclusive focus of the Council’s work should remain on the most acute issues from a human rights perspective: violations in countering terrorism and a human-rights based approach to victims of terrorism, along the lines already established by successive holders of the Special Rapporteur mandate.
  • To recommend against the Council entering into more diffuse macroeconomic issues such as diverting foreign direct investment, reducing capital inflows, destroying infrastructure, limiting foreign trade, disturbing financial markets, and negatively affecting certain economic sectors and impeding economic growth.
  • To avoid making recommendations that simply repeat already-existing obligations or commitments to counter terrorism under various UN or other instruments.
  • To affirm that the existing and longstanding normative and institutional framework on counter-terrorism and human rights is already sufficient to address relevant impacts of terrorism from a human rights perspective.

Prior to the session, the ICJ together with other NGOs had filed a written statement alerting the Advisory Committee to the highly sensitive context into which its report would be delivered at the Council, and urging the Committee to guard against its work being instrumentalized by Egypt and other States who seek to distort, distract and divert the limited resources and attention of the Council and its Special Rapporteur, away from the longstanding focus, achieved by years of Mexican leadership with consensus support of the Council, on human rights in countering terrorism, and the human rights of victims of terrorism.

The Advisory Committee’s report was requested by a 2017 resolution led by Egypt, which was not a matter of consensus, and is being drafted by a former Ambassador of Egypt who is now a member of the Committee.

Earlier at the session, several States including the EU, Switzerland, and Mexico had expressed concern or otherwise questioned particular aspects of the current draft of the report, and urged the Committee to substantially review and revise the draft. Egypt, China, Russia and several other States expressed satisfaction with the draft and urged the Committee to quickly finalize the report and send it to the Council.

The Advisory Committee report is due to be presented to and considered at the September 2020 session of the Human Rights Council, although some Committee members expressed the wish to finalize the report at the current Committee session.

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