Victims of terrorism
-- UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the opening of the photographic exhibition Surviving Terrorism: The Power of Resilience.
Solidarity with victims
With its Victims of Terrorism Support Programme, the UN Counter Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) aims to show solidarity with, raise awareness on, and contribute to protecting, promoting and respecting the rights and supporting the needs of victims of terrorism. The Programme also works towards building the capacity of Member States and civil society organizations to better support the needs of victims of terrorism.
Mandate of the Programme
The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy highlights the importance of protecting victims’ rights and needs. This Strategy, numerous relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, strategies, plans of action and other normative frameworks provide the basis of the Programme.
Two recent General Assembly resolutions dedicated to victims of terrorism have created a stronger framework to increase Member States efforts on victims and has tasked the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and UNCCT to strengthen and broaden its Programme:
- A/RES72/165 establishing the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism
- A/RES73/305 calling for strengthened international cooperation to assist victims of terrorism
The global Programme seeks to advocate for, support outreach, shape policy and build the capacity of Member States to support victims, victims of terrorism associations and civil society. It aims to stand in solidarity with victims, strengthen victims’ voices and their role in preventing and countering violent extremism.
Activities of the programme include:
- Victims of Terrorism Support Portal
- Support to Member States, including the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism
- The International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism
- Capacity building and technical assistance to Member States, civil society and victims
- UN system coordination
- Advocacy, outreach and policy work
The Portal serves as a mechanism that provides practical resources and information on and for victims of terrorism. The Portal has had over 670,000 pageviews since its launch in June 2014.
Support to Member States, including the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism
The Programme provides support to Member States through its activities on outreach, awareness raising, and capacity building. As an observer to the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism, a Member-State driven initiative, UNOCT provides support and assistance when required. Examples of the Programme’s support to the Group include co-hosting of the first and second Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism during the 74th and 75th meeting of the UN General Assembly.
International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, 21 August Not Forgotten: Stories of Remembrance from Victims of Terrorism
The third commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism took place on 21 August 2020 at 10 am (New York time EDT). It occurred during trying times for the international community, with the ongoing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic felt around the world. With the international community being focused on the response to the pandemic and cancellation of many memorials and commemorations, it is critical to take the time to remember and honour the victims of terrorism.
An online high-level event entitled “Not Forgotten: Stories of Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism”, was held with the participation of the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, for victims to speak about remembrance on their own terms, reminding the audience that it is not only about bereavement, but also about acknowledging the experience of survivors.
A short film was launched "Not Forgotten: Stories of Remembrance from Victims of Terrorism", featuring testimonies of victims and survivors of terrorism demonstrating their individual journey and experience, especially since the onset of the pandemic. This was followed by an interactive discussion with a panel of victims, victims’ associations, and experts on how the pandemic has affected the ability to honour and commemorate victims and survivors of terrorism.
The event provided an opportunity for victims to share their stories and to urge the international community to strengthen their rights and address their needs, even during global health emergencies. It seeks to build on and consolidate these efforts, and translate them into practical and sustainable actions at the national level, shaping the way forward on national and cross-border commemoration efforts, and on developing comprehensive national assistance plans that address the need of victims of terrorism for communal support, remembrance, and even redress.
Capacity building and technical assistance to Member States, civil society and victims
Through its capacity building activities, the Programme seeks to strengthen the knowledge, skills and understanding of how to better support victims by Member States and civil society organisations, including victims associations. Activites have included media training for victims to strengthen their key messages, providing technical assistance to governments on victims assistance, on-line courses and publication of the Handook “Good Practices to Support Victims Associations in Africa and the Middle East” (2018) and “Guidelines and Principles for Civil Society Organizations to Assist, Protect and Support Victims of Terrorism in Asia-Pacific” (2020).
UN System coordination
UNCCT, through its Programme, has a pivotal role in coordinating the UN’s support to victims, partiuclarly through the Global Compact Working Group on Promoting and Protecting Human Rights and the Rule of Law while Countering Terrorism and Victims of Terrorism. As vice-chair of the Working Group, UNOCT/UNCCT leads on work and activities on victims, coordinating and implementing the workplan on victims, as well as for other activities.
Advocacy, outreach and policy work
The Programme provides a platform to raise victims voices, for victims to share their experiences and to advocate for their rights and needs. Through awareness raising events, building networks, avenues for dialogue, and developing policy, the Programme ensures that victims remains at the centre of PCVE efforts. Our work has also included stronger collaboration with civil society organisations, including victims associations and raising awareness of Member States on victims issues, for example during the review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.