Violent extremism, terrorism and human rights

Violent extremism, terrorism and human rights

The ICJ today expressed concern at violations of human rights perpetrated in the name of countering violent extremism, and at attempts by some States at the Human Rights Council to dilute its focus on human rights while countering terrorism and the human rights of victims of terrorism.

The statement, delivered during an interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, read as follows:

“The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) welcomes your report on “Human rights impact of policies and practices aimed at preventing and countering violent extremism” (A/HRC/43/46).

The ICJ shares concern at the growing range of measures that restrict human rights, adopted in the name of the opaque and contested concepts of countering or preventing violent extremism. At the Council, certain States push for agreed language on suppression of terrorism to be cut-and-pasted to apply to “violent extremism”, and then eventually to all “extremism” whether violent or not, without definitions. As your report documents, at the national level this translates into overbroad, unjustified, arbitrary, and discriminatory measures, with particular impacts on civil society, especially human rights defenders, and from a gender perspective.

We also share the view expressed at para 51 of your report, that the current draft report of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee on “the negative effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights”, remains fundamentally flawed. Any discussion of “effects of terrorism” at the Council should exclusively focus on a human-rights based approach to victims of terrorism, consolidating work already undertaken by successive Special Rapporteurs and other UN and regional entities, as collected in a compilation published recently by the ICJ.[1]  The Council must not allow its attention and limited resources to be diverted away from the human rights of victims of terrorism and protecting human rights while countering terrorism, to more diffuse questions of a macro-economic or budgetary character or duplicating work of other bodies.”

[1] See and

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