NGOs urge rejection of proposed new UN resolution on terrorism and human rights

by | Mar 25, 2015 | Advocacy, Open letters

The ICJ today joined other NGOs in an open letter urging States at the UN Human Rights Council not to support a draft resolution on the ‘Effects of Terrorism on the Enjoyment of Human Rights’ in its present form and without substantial amendment.

The letter explains why the draft resolution, presented jointly by Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco and Saudi Arabia, is significantly unbalanced and suffers from four key and inter-related deficiencies:

First, the draft resolution calls for strengthening of counter-terrorism measures without sufficiently recognising that such laws and measures must be in conformity with international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law and refugee law.

Second, the resolution fails to call on States to ensure that laws and measures on counter-terrorism and national security do not hinder the work and safety of human rights defenders and other civil society actors; and  to ensure that such laws and measures clearly identify which offences qualify as terrorist acts by defining transparent and foreseeable criteria.

Third, the text fails to recognise that support for a vibrant and pluralistic civil society and respect for the fundamental rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly are essential to combat extremism, counter terrorism and provide protection, support and justice to victims.

Fourth, while the draft resolution has been presented by the core group as taking a ‘victim-centered’ approach, the text fails to respond to what victims of terrorism have themselves expressed to the Council is needed to respect and fulfill their human rights. To the contrary, the resolution appears to continue the regrettable practice of invoking the suffering victims of terrorism to justify measures that too often are abused to violate human rights, without delivering real justice, remedy, and support to the victims themselves.

In conclusion, the letter urges delegations not to support the draft text without very substantial amendments, and suggests that a preferable approach may be to consider the concerns sought to be addressed in the present text when the Council comes to negotiate its traditional bi-annual resolution on human rights and countering terrorism at its 31st session in March 2016.

The Open Letter is signed jointly by: African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, Amnesty International, ARTICLE 19, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, FORUM-ASIA, Human Rights House Foundation, Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and International Service for Human Rights.

The full letter may be downloaded in PDF format here: Universal-HRC28-TerrorismHumanRights-Advocacy-OpenLetter-2015-ENG

The draft resolution may be downloaded here: HRC28 Draft Terrorism Human Rights Resolution

Update 26 March 2015: The resolution was adopted, with an oral amendment, by vote of the Council (25 in favour, 16 abstentions, 6 against): Terrorism 2015 vote

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