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HRC34: Mainstreaming of Human Rights in UN counter-terrorism initiatives

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism A/HRC/34/61

In his final report, Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson made a call for reform of the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture. He recommended the establishment of a new office for counter-terrorism coordination under the Secretary General that would work in cooperation with, and on the advice of OHCHR.

Regarding the standards to which national counter-terrorist activities should be held he emphasized that:

  • States’ counter-terrorism actions must be rooted in, and comply with, international law, including human rights, humanitarian and refugee law.

  • States need to ensure that while countering terrorism any person who alleges that his or her human rights or fundamental freedoms have been violated has access to justice, due process and an effective remedy, and that victims of human rights violations receive adequate, effective and prompt reparations, which should include, as appropriate, restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and guarantees of non-recurrence.

  • Steps need to be taken to steps to adopt an international instrument enshrining the rights of victims of terrorism.

  • The use of remotely operated arms has significant direct and indirect consequences. Although the immediate impact is the loss of life of the targeted individuals, and bystanders, the psychological effect on all communities in the affected region can have a serious impact on a number of other economic, social and cultural rights and fundamental freedoms.

  • The use of armed drones must be subject to clear and public principles. States are to comply with their obligations under international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

  • Progress is still required to ensure that adequate procedural safeguards and oversight of interception and surveillance are in place. In particular, prior judicial authorization of surveillance should be the norm.

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