“I ask that we all reflect on the lives that have been changed forever as a result of terrorism. Let us commit to showing victims that they are not alone, and that the international community stands in solidarity with them, wherever they may be. In their call for healing and justice, they speak for all of us.” — UN Secretary-General, António Guterres
While more countries are affected by terrorism today, the number of victims has largely been concentrated in a small number of Member States.
Victims of terrorism continue to struggle to have their voices heard, have their needs supported and their rights upheld. Victims often feel forgotten and neglected once the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack fades, which can have profound consequences for them. Few Members States have the resources or the capacity to fulfill the medium and long-term needs required for victims to fully recover, rehabilitate and integrate back into society. Victims can only recover and cope with their trauma through long-term multi-dimensional support, including physical, psychological, social and financial, in order to heal and live with dignity.
The primary responsibility to support victims of terrorism and uphold their rights rests with Member States. The United Nations has an important role in supporting Member States to implement Pillar I and IV of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy through standing in solidarity and providing support to victims, capacity building assistance, establishing networks of, and offering support to, civil society organizations, particularly victims of terrorism associations, and encouraging Member States to promote, protect and respect the rights of victims. The United Nations has been working to provide resources, mobilize the international community and better address the needs of victims of terrorism.
Amaury and Andrew Razafitrimo from Madagascar were with their mother Mino on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France during the terrorist attack of 14 July 2016. Mino means faith in Malagasy.
The last three outcome resolutions of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy review (A/RES/66/282, A/RES/68/276 and A/RES/72/284) have all emphasized the important role of victims in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism as well as recognizing and upholding their human rights.
The sixth review resolution (A/RES/72/284), particularly notes that building resilience of victims and their families, through the provision of proper support and assistance immediately after an attack and in the longer-term is a major step forward in recognizing that victims who are resilient are less vulnerable to the impacts of terrorism and are able to cope, heal and recover more rapidly after an attack.
The draft resolution on the Enhancement of International Cooperation to Assist Victims of Terrorism (A/73/l.88) specifically recognizes the resilience of victims as important for the social cohesion of society and as vital partners to prevent violent extremism conducive to terrorism.
This year, the second commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to Victims of Terrorism (A/RES/72/165) will focus on the resilience of victims and their families- how they have coped and what they have done to transform their experiences to aid healing and recovery as well as become stronger and more united against terrorism. To observe the International Day, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism will launch a photographic exhibition on August 21 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The exhibition, opened by H.E. Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, will feature victims’ statements and stories demonstrating their individual journey and experience of resilience.
The photo exhibit will be displayed along the South Wall of the Conference Building at UN Headquarters from 19-30 August 2019.
On 20 August, UNOCT and the Permanent Mission of Cameroon will co-host an event at UNHQ to launch a documentary under the Victims of Terrorism Documentary series that focuses on challenges faced by victims of Boko Haram in Cameroon.
Why do we mark International Days?
International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. More information available here.