VI. Defending human rights in the context of terrorism and counter-terrorism
110. As I stated at the beginning of this report, inherent and essential to any counter-terrorism strategy is ensuring the defence of human rights. Proposals for safeguarding human rights have been highlighted throughout the sections on dissuasion, denial, deterrence and development of State capacity. To underline other important human rights considerations that must be fully taken into account and incorporated when countering terrorism, I focus on human rights in its own section here.
111. In General Assembly resolution 54/164, Member States reiterated their unequivocal condemnation of the methods and practices of terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, as activities aimed at the destruction of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy. In that resolution, Member States moreover once again recognized that such acts threaten the territorial integrity and security of States, destabilize legitimately constituted Governments, undermine pluralistic civil society, and have adverse consequences for the economic and social development of States. No end justifies intentionally attacking civilians and non-combatants. Terrorist acts are violations of the right to life, liberty, security, well-being and freedom from fear. Therefore, adopting and implementing effective counter-terrorism measures is also a human rights obligation for States.
112. At the same time, in the fight against terrorism, we must never sacrifice our values and lower our standards to those of the terrorists. International cooperation to fight terrorism must be conducted in full conformity with international law, including the Charter of the United Nations and relevant international conventions and protocols. It is an obligation of States to ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism comply with their obligations under international law, in particular human rights law, refugee law and international humanitarian law.
113. Only by placing counter-terrorism within a rule-of-law framework can we safeguard the internationally valued standard that outlaws terrorism, reduce the conditions that may generate cycles of terrorist violence, and address grievances and resentment that may be conducive to terrorist recruitment. To compromise on the protection of human rights would hand terrorists a victory they cannot achieve on their own. And when human rights are abused as part of a campaign against terrorism, terrorists exploit the abuse to mobilize recruits and seek to further justify their actions. To this end, States should ratify and implement the core international human rights instruments and accept the competence of international and national human rights monitoring bodies, including those entrusted with monitoring all places where people are deprived of their liberty.
114. International human rights experts continue to express concern that many counter-terrorism measures infringe on human rights and fundamental freedoms. Pursuant to General Assembly resolutions 57/219, 58/187 and 59/191, I have submitted reports on protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights should continue to play a lead role in examining this question, make general recommendations on the obligation of States, and provide them with assistance and advice should they request it.
115. In July 2005, the Commission on Human Rights appointed a Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. This was a step forward in ensuring the compatibility of counter-terrorism measures with international human rights law. By corresponding with Governments, making country visits, liaising with the United Nations and regional organizations, and reporting on these issues, the Special Rapporteur supports and offers concrete advice to States. The establishment of the new Human Rights Council offers another opportunity to incorporate human rights into our counter-terrorism efforts and, as it takes shape, the Council should bear in mind the reality of terrorism.
116. Earlier in this strategy, I applauded Security Council resolution 1624 (2005), which attempts to address incitement to terrorist acts. I also urged States, working closely with the Counter-Terrorism Committee, to take the necessary steps to impede the use of information and communications technologies for promoting and carrying out terrorist activities. We must be vigilant, however, to the risk of abusive Governments invoking measures against incitement to terrorism for their own purposes, perhaps to target peaceful political opponents. Nonetheless, addressing the issue of incitement is vital. I urge further work in this area, in full compliance with international human rights standards and with due regard to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism.
117. Another highly important issue relates to the topic of due process and listing. In paragraph 109 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome, the Security Council is called upon, with my support, to ensure that fair and clear procedures exist for placing individuals and entities on sanctions list and removing them, as well as for granting humanitarian exemptions. Pursuant to that mandate, and in accordance with paragraph 20 of the report on the implementation of decisions from the 2005 World Summit Outcome for action by the Secretary-General (A/60/430), I have asked the Office of Legal Affairs of the Secretariat to begin an interdepartmental process, in close cooperation with the Department of Political Affairs and OHCHR, to develop proposals and guidelines that would be available for consideration by the Security Council. In the meantime, the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) has approved a partial revision of its Guidelines and is urged to continue its discussions of listing and de-listing, including those recommendations from the reports of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the Committee, which has consistently pointed to the need to address these issues.
118. Upholding and defending human rights - not only of those suspected of terrorism, but also of those victimized by terrorism and those affected by the consequences of terrorism - is essential to all components of an effective counter-terrorism strategy. Only by honouring and strengthening the human rights of all can the international community succeed in its efforts to fight this scourge.