Terrorism has a "very real and direct impact" on human rights, High Commissioner Navi Pillay tells Committee

"Acts of terrorism continue to remind us of the very real and direct impact of this scourge on human rights," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay at her briefing to the Counter-Terrorism Committee on 24 October 2013.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay (left), participated in a briefing to the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee. Next to her is Jean-Paul Laborde (centre), Executive Director of CTED, and Ambassador Mohammed Loulichki, Permanent Representative of Morocco and Chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Committee.

Ms. Pillay spoke of the "devastating consequences" of terrorism on the ability of individuals to fully enjoy their rights. Her thoughts were with the victims around the world whose rights to life, liberty and security had been violated.

The impact was felt across society.

"Terrorism destabilizes Governments, undermines civil society, jeopardizes peace and security, and threatens economic and social development," Ms. Pillay said.

She noted that an effective response required Member States to adopt a holistic and integrated approach that protected human rights and respected the rule of law. In her view, strategies that were not anchored by those fundamental principles could prove counterproductive.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had received allegations of human rights violations in the counter-terrorism context, such as extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture.

"Such practices can give rise to a sense of injustice and persecution that is dangerously corrosive of the values that bind a nation together," Ms. Pillay said.

Ms. Pillay also spoke of specific areas of concern for her Office. She said that authorities in some jurisdictions were using broad and abusive counter-terrorism laws to curb otherwise legitimate activity, at times intended to "stifle the voices of human rights defenders, journalists, minorities and indigenous peoples."

Authorities might also resort to administrative detention, control orders, terrorist listings, and the use of immigration and deportation laws to bypass the criminal justice system. Such practices presented challenges to due process, including the right to a fair trial.

Respecting the rights to freedom of expression and opinion, of assembly and association had also proven challenging in countering incitement to commit terrorist acts. When it came to preventing terrorism, it was important to understand and tackle conditions that might lead to violent extremism and radicalization.

Reasons for involvement in acts of terrorism varied between men and women. However, both were part of the solution. Member States should therefore integrate more women into law enforcement and security and take their views into account when developing counter-terrorism strategies.

Another area of concern related to States' use of security surveillance measures without adequate safeguards to protect the right to privacy. Governments could gather and protect information, Ms. Pillay said, but they must comply with international human rights law in doing so.

The relevant resolutions of the Security Council, as well as the General Assembly's Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, showed that human rights and effective counter-terrorism measures were complementary and mutually reinforcing.

As partners, the Committee, CTED and OHCHR would continue to work together to ensure that States' counter-terrorism legislation and practices complied with their obligations under international human rights law.


This page was last updated on: 31-Oct-2013 2:57 PM EST