The Working Group was established to strengthen the support of, and comprehensive work on, the effective implementation of Pillar I and Pillar IV of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy related to victims of terrorism. Activities focus on enhancing coordination and cooperation between United Nations bodies on victims of terrorism; technical assistance and capacity building activities; promotion and protection of victim’s rights through multi-media platforms, campaigns and workshops; and to provide a platform for the voices of victims to counter the narrative of violent extremists.
Support to Victims of terrorism is highlighted under Pillar I and Pillar IV of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Under these two Pillars, the Strategy seeks to “promote international solidarity in support of victims”, stresses “the need to promote and protect the rights of victims of terrorism and their families and facilitate the normalization of their lives”, and identifies the “dehumanization of victims of terrorism” as one of the key issues that generates the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism.
United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy:
Section I, paragraph 8: “To consider putting in place, on a voluntary basis, national systems of assistance that would promote the needs of victims of terrorism and their families and facilitate the normalization of their lives. In this regard, we encourage States to request the relevant United Nations entities to help them to develop such national systems. We will also strive to promote international solidarity in support of victims and foster the involvement of civil society in a global campaign against terrorism and for its condemnation. This could include exploring at the General Assembly the possibility of developing practical mechanisms assistance to victims.”
Section IV: “We resolve to undertake the following measures, reaffirming that the promotion and protection of human rights for all and the rule of law is essential to all components of the Strategy... and stressing the need to promote and protect the rights of victims of terrorism.”
The third (A/Res/66/282) and fourth (A/Res/68/276) review resolutions of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy further commits Member States to support victims of terrorism, including in countering the appeal of terrorism and in promoting solidarity in support of victims of terrorism.
The United Nations has shown its commitment over the years to working on victims of terrorism through a number of activities. Most recently, since the establishment of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), there has been stronger coordination on the activities on victims of terrorism. In September 2008, the Secretary-General convened a Symposium on Supporting Victims of Terrorism that brought together victims, experts, and representatives of Member States, regional organizations, civil society and the media to provide a forum for discussing concrete steps to assist victims in coping with their experiences, give them a voice, and to share best practices and highlight measures taken by Member States and Non-Governmental Organizations to support and empower victims.
A report was produced that summarized the key themes discussed and put forward recommendations on how to further support victims of terrorism. To date, the Working Group, through its individual members and as a whole, has developed and implemented a number of activities, including:
- The launch a handbook on “Good Practices for Supporting Victims of Terrorism within the Criminal Justice Framework” organized by the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on 16 April 2015 in Qatar.
- The United Nations Victims of Terrorism Support Portal was launched by the Secretary-General during the fourth review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in June 2014. The Portal is a practical mechanism that facilitates access to resources by victims, their families and communities – be it psychosocial support, access to national criminal justice systems or rehabilitation opportunities offered by Member States. The Portal is a key platform from which the international community is able to demonstrate its solidarity with victims.
- The Permanent Mission of Spain, the Fundación Víctimas del Terrorismo and Fundación Miguel Ángel Blanco hosted a panel discussion and a photographic exhibition on 2 April 2012 in New York. The discussion focused on strengthening existing mechanisms on victim’s rights as well as promoting innovative ways of supporting and empowering victims.
- In collaboration with the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation, convened a four-day media training workshop for 10 victims of terrorism. The aim of the workshop was to strengthen the ability of participants to develop communications campaigns, interact with the media and reinforce their understanding of the media in order to be better prepared to communicate about their experiences.
- The CTITF and the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (ISISC) co-organized a workshop on best practices on supporting victims of terrorist crimes and related offences as defined in the national and international law in Siracusa, Italy.
The UN Victims of Terrorism Support Portal provides a detailed timeline on UN activities on victims of terrorism.
- Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force, Department of Political Affairs (CTITF) (lead)
- Department of Public Information (DPI)
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
- Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
- United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI)