The main purpose of this Guide is to assess the key challenges related to detention of persons when countering terrorism and to provide Member States with legal and practical guidance to assist them in ensuring that counter-terrorism measures comply with international human rights law.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What international framework is there to understand if acts are terrorist in nature or not?
We have Security Council resolutions 1373 OP 2(c), 2178 OP 6 (a)-(c).
Since 1963, the international community has adopted 19 international counter-terrorism legal instruments (conventions and protocols), many of which define acts of terrorism:
- Acts of aircraft hijacking
- Acts of aviation sabotage
- Acts of violence at airports
- Acts against the safety of maritime navigation
- Acts against the safety of fixed platforms located on the continental shelf
- Crime against internationally protected persons (such as the kidnapping of diplomats)
- Acts of unlawful taking and possession of nuclear material
- Acts of hostage-taking
- Acts of terrorist bombings
- Acts of funding of the commission of terrorist acts and terrorist organizations
- The use of an aircraft as a weapon.
What are the main functions of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and CTED?
Pursuant to the Charter of the United Nations, maintenance of international peace and security is the primary responsibility of the Security Council. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the Council acting, under Chapter VII of the Charter, adopted resolution 1373 (2001), which sets forth a range of measures to be implemented by Member States in order to address the terrorist threat in a global, coordinated and comprehensive manner. The resolution also created the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), a Council subsidiary body composed of all 15 Council members, tasked with monitoring Member States’ implementation efforts.
By its resolution 1535 (2004), the Council subsequently established the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) as a special political mission, charged with assisting the Committee in its work to monitor, facilitate and promote Member States’ implementation of resolution 1373 (2001) and subsequent resolutions and decisions of the Council on counter-terrorism, including resolution 1624 (2005), on the prohibition of incitement to commit terrorist acts, and resolution 2178 (2014), on countering foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and countering violent extremism (CVE).
Why are there other UN counter-terrorism entities?
Counter-Terrorism has been a prominent issue on the agenda of the United Nations for many years. In response to the evolving global terrorism threat, the United Nations has created a number of bodies to deal with terrorism-related issues. In addition to the Counter-Terrorism Committee and CTED, the Council has established: (i) the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) and its Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team concerning ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and the Taliban and associated individuals and entities; and (ii) the Non-proliferation Committee established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and its Expert Group. The Council also established a Working Group on the victims of terrorism, pursuant to its resolution 1566 (2004).
In adopting the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, in 2006, the United Nations General Assembly created the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) Office and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT). In June 2017, the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre, initially established in the Department of Political Affairs were moved into the new Office of Counter-Terrorism. The new Office enhance was mandated to enhance coordination and coherence across the 38 (now 43) Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force entities to ensure the balanced implementation of the four pillars of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. On 23 February 2018, the Secretary-General signed the new United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact, which replaces the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force coordination arrangement.
A number of other United Nations entities and specialized agencies are engaged in counter-terrorism issues. They include the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the World Customs Organization (WCO). All these entities cooperate within their respective mandates and within the Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact.
Since the adoption of resolution 2395 (2017), CTED intensified its cooperation with the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the other member entities of the Global Coordination Compact, acting in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Council (in particular the provisions of Council resolution 2395 (2017)) and the relevant provisions of the Global Strategy, with a view to promoting implementation of the four pillars of the Strategy and their corresponding measures.
How are the Committee’s country visits conducted?
CTED conducts country visits on the Committee’s behalf as part of the assessment process to understand Member States’ counter-terrorism efforts, strengths, weaknesses and technical assistance needs and to identify good practices employed in the implementation of resolutions 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005), 2242 (2015) and 2178 (2014), as well as terrorism-related trends and challenges. The visiting delegations are led by CTED and include experts from relevant international, regional and subregional organizations, including the African Union, the European Union, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), FATF-Style Regional Bodies, the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Customs Organization (WCO), and other specialized bodies and institutions with expertise in specific aspects of counter-terrorism. As of January 2021, more than 160 visits to some 100 UN Member States have been conducted since CTED was declared operational 13 years earlier.
The Committee’s visits are guided by the “Framework document for Counter-Terrorism Committee visits to Member States aimed at monitoring, promoting and facilitating the implementation of Security Council resolutions 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005), 2178 (2014), 2396 (2017), 2462 (2019) and 2482 (2019) and other relevant Council resolutions" and the “Guidelines of the Counter-Terrorism Committee for post-visit follow-up", 2012.
On 19 November 2020, the Counter-Terrorism Committee adopted hybrid assessment visits to some Member States, pro tempore, so that the Committee and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) can, to the extent possible, carry on one of the core functions entrusted to them by the Security Council. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions imposed by the United Nations, all scheduled or planned assessment visits have been postponed since March 2020.
How do the Committee and CTED promote international cooperation?
Terrorism is a threat to international peace and security. This is why the Security Council is engaged. The global terrorist threat is complex and geographically diverse. It is therefore essential to promote international cooperation and engagement in countering terrorism, including within the framework of Council resolutions 1373 (2001), 2178 (2014) and 2322 (2016), on international judicial cooperation in criminal matters, and the 19 international counter-terrorism instruments. Combating terrorism requires international cooperation in criminal matters with full respect for the rule of law and human rights. Moreover, counter-terrorism policies and methods must go beyond traditional security arrangements and adopt a broader perspective that engages all stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector as well as international cooperation on sharing of information/intelligence on border security and approaches to prosecution, reconciliation, and reintegration (PRR), where cross border movement is a key feature, such as the Lake Chad Basin.
In order to assist Member States to bring terrorists to justice and support international cooperation in criminal matters, CTED collaborates, under the direction of the Committee, with a number of international, regional and subregional organizations, including, inter alia, the Council of Europe, the European Union, FATF, the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), IOM, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), the League of Arab States, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Terrorism Prevention Branch of UNODC and WCO. The Committee and CTED also cooperate closely with some of the world’s largest private-sector actors and key civil-society groups in preventing and combating terrorist exploitation of information and communications technologies (ICT).
How do the Committee and CTED take account of human rights and rule-of-law issues in implementing their mandates?
The Committee and CTED take account of relevant human rights issues in all their activities, including within the framework of the Committee’s country visits, in their interaction with Member States, and in their work products. In the Committee’s reports to the Council, submitted as part of its comprehensive reviews of the work of CTED, the Committee states that CTED should take account of relevant human rights obligations (S/2005/800 and S/2006/989). In May 2006, the Committee adopted human rights policy guidance for CTED.
Security Council resolution 1624 (2005), which addresses incitement to commit terrorist acts, stresses that States must ensure that any measures they take to implement the resolution comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, refugee law, and humanitarian law. The preamble to resolution 1624 (2005) emphasizes the right to freedom of expression and the right to seek and enjoy asylum. In its resolution 2178 (2014), on stemming the flow of FTFs, the Council decides that Member States shall, consistent with international human rights law, international refugee law, and international humanitarian law, prevent and suppress the recruiting, organizing, transporting or equipping of FTFs and stressed that CVE was an essential element of an effective response to the FTF phenomenon.
How do the Committee and CTED engage with Member States?
In order to engage with Member States, CTED employs a number of channels and tools, including consultations, meetings and briefings, ongoing dialogue with counterparts at the informal level, special meetings, country visits, reports submitted to the Committee by Member States, and its comprehensive assessment tools, the Detailed Implementation Survey (DIS) and the Overview of Implementation Assessment (OIA). The outreach activities of the Committee and CTED are also regularly covered through web stories and tweets (@UN_CTED).
How can a Member State request the support of the Committee and CTED?
Acting through their Governments or through their Permanent Missions to the United Nations, Member States may request assistance by contacting either the Chair of the Committee, including by email to sc-ctc [at] un.org, or the CTED Executive Director, including by email to cted [at] un.org.
Do the Committee and CTED provide technical assistance directly to Member States?
No. The Committee and CTED do not provide technical assistance directly to Member States. Rather, they facilitate the delivery of technical assistance, in accordance with the CTC Policy Guidance on Technical Assistance, through close engagement with a broad range of donor and provider organizations.
Can I obtain copies of the Committee’s assessment documents?
The Committee has adopted guidance on whether or how to distribute its assessment documents. In addition, Council resolution 2129 (2013), paragraph 10, “[d]irects CTED to make available information contained in national counterterrorism surveys and assessments, when agreed by concerned Member States […]”. Accordingly, by agreement with the State concerned, the Committee’s assessment documents are shared with technical assistance providers and implementing agencies to assist the State in the implementation of the assessment’s recommendations. Moreover, analysis of the information gathered by the Committee and CTED during their interaction with Member States is shared with the general public through the global implementation surveys (GIS) of Member States’ implementation of Council resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1624 (2005). These documents provide a comprehensive overview of the implementation of the resolutions, identify progress achieved and remaining challenges, and indicate where the international community might most usefully focus its efforts.
What is the difference between CTED and UNOCT?
Both the Committee and CTED were established by the Security Council. However, CTED, like the UNCCT, is also a member of the CTITF, a network of 38 entities established to support the implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (A/RES/60/288). CTED is tasked by the Council with monitoring, facilitating and promoting Member States’ implementation of the relevant Council resolutions. The CTITF Office/UNCCT is tasked by the General Assembly with ensuring the coordination and coherence of United Nations counter-terrorism efforts and providing capacity-building assistance, as appropriate.
How does CTED engage with the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF)?
CTED and the GCTF work in close cooperation. The GCTF functions primarily as a mechanism for furthering the implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and for complementing and reinforcing existing multilateral counter-terrorism efforts. CTED participates in GCTF coordination meetings with a view to ensuring synergy of action within the framework of the CTITF Capacity-Building Implementation Action Plan and promoting and sharing good practices identified by CTED and GCTF in their dialogue with Member States and international, regional and subregional organizations. The two entities participate in workshops on a reciprocal basis, and CTED supports the development of good practices by the GCTF.
How does the Committee streamline its working methodology and procedures?
Over the years, the Committee has taken a number of steps to streamline its working methodology and procedures in order to enhance its dialogue with Member States, including by regularly updating its assessment, stocktaking, and other working procedures. The following are the Committee’s primary guidance documents:
- Framework document for Counter-Terrorism Committee visits to Member States aimed at monitoring, promoting and facilitating the implementation of Security Council resolutions 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005), 2178 (2014), 2396 (2017), 2462 (2019) and 2482 (2019) and other relevant Council resolutions
- Guidelines of the Counter-Terrorism Committee for post-visit follow-up:
- Counter-Terrorism Committee updated working methods.
Do the Committee and CTED receive support from academic institutions or think tanks?
Academic institutions are essential partners of the Committee and CTED. Council resolution 2129 (2013) directs CTED to identify emerging issues, trends and developments relating to Council resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1624 (2005) and to advise the Committee on practical ways for Member States to implement the resolutions. Paragraph 19 of resolution 2129 (2013) invites CTED to further engage and enhance its partnership, among others, with academia and other entities in conducting research and information-gathering and in identifying good practices and, in that context, to support the Committee’s efforts to promote implementation of the resolutions. In 2015, the Committee, assisted by CTED, launched a Global Counter-Terrorism Research Network, which consists of leading think tanks and research institutions from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the Americas, and Oceania. See Fact Sheet of the Global Counter-Terrorism Research Network here. In November 2015, the Committee, assisted by CTED, held an open meeting with partners of the Global Research Network, open to the wider United Nations membership, to analyse and discuss emerging terrorism issues and trends, particularly those pertaining to FTFs. The goal of the open meeting was to enable the Committee, CTED and Network partners to analyse and discuss related emerging issues, trends and developments and to build on research gaps with a view to identifying priority areas of work with respect to the implementation of resolution 2178 (2014). See outcome document of the open meeting here.
Are the Committee and CTED present on social media?
Yes. You can follow the work of the Committee and CTED through Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
- Facebook: @UnitedNationsCTED
- Flickr: un_cted
- Instagram: @UN_CTED
- Twitter: @UN_CTED
- YouTube: UnitedNationsCTED
Does CTED integrate a gender dimension in its work?
Yes. Security Council resolution 2242 (2015) calls for greater integration by Member States and the UN of their agendas on women, peace and security, counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism which can be conducive to terrorism and requests the Committee and CTED to integrate gender as a cross-cutting issue throughout their activities, including in country-specific assessments and reports, recommendations made to Member States, the facilitation of technical assistance, and briefings to the Council. The resolution also urges CTED to conduct gender-sensitive research and collect data on the drivers of radicalization for women and the impacts of counter-terrorism strategies on women’s human rights and women’s organizations in order to develop targeted and evidence-based policy and programming responses.
CTED accordingly incorporates a gender dimension into all aspects its workand works with partners such as UN Women and UNOCT to increase the focus on gender issues in facilitating Member States’ implementation of the relevant Council resolutions.
Can I attend a Committee meeting or briefing?
The Committee’s meeting arrangements may be consulted in the UN Journal, which will also indicates whether the meeting is closed or open session. Closed meetings are for Committee members and invited representatives from Member States and organizations only. To request admission to open meetings and briefings, please consult the announcements in the UN Journal.
What is the difference between the Committee’s plenary meetings and its special meetings and open briefings?
The Committee’s regular plenary meetings are closed meetings at which members of the Committee formally plan, discuss, approve, or take note of country assessments, activities, events and procedures. Representatives of Member States and international and regional organizations may be invited to participate in open sessions to brief the Committee on new and emerging trends, developments, challenges and good practices, and for the purpose of maintaining tailored dialogue on relevant regional and thematic issues. The Committee’s special meetings, events and open briefings are open to Member States and international and regional organizations. Pursuant to resolution 2129 (2013), the Committee and CTED also organize open briefings and events with members of the Global Research Network, civil society, and the private sector. Those meetings and events serve as useful platforms for the exchange of information on new and emerging trends, threats and challenges; interaction among stakeholders; the sharing of good practices; the discussion of capacity-building needs; the planning of technical assistance programmes; and increasing the visibility of the work of the Committee and CTED.
Do the Committee and CTED engage with parliaments and parliamentarians?
Yes. Parliaments play a vital role in combatting the global terrorism threat by facilitating Member States’ implementation of the relevant international counter-terrorism instruments and General Assembly and Council resolutions. CTED and parliamentarians interact through events held in New York and through CTED’s participation in events organized by parliamentary bodies. Parliaments can assist the Committee and CTED by reviewing draft national counter-terrorism legislation with a view to ensuring that the draft conforms to the international counter-terrorism regime and with States’ obligations under international law, including human rights law, humanitarian law and refugee law. Parliaments can also help expedite the process of introducing amendments to existing legislation to ensure that emerging terrorist threats are rapidly and effectively addressed by Governments in accordance with an appropriate legal framework. Parliaments may also encourage and guide Governments in their development of comprehensive national counter-terrorism strategies. CTED increasingly interacts with Parliamentarians during the course of an assessment visit. The Africa Section also supports the UNOCT, UNODC and Inter-parliamentarian project on supporting the role of Parliaments in addressing terrorism, including via legislative reform: five African countries have been prioritized for support.
Does CTED accept voluntary contributions?
CTED established a Trust Fund in 2011 to receive voluntary contributions to support activities relating to its mandate, including technical assistance facilitation. CTED welcomes voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund and may be contacted at cted [at] un.org.
How can I apply for a job at CTED?
Please visit the Vacancies section of the CTC/CTED website, or register at http://inspira.un.org. Short-term consultancy opportunities are occasionally posted on the website.
How can I apply for an internship at CTED?
The United Nations offers opportunities for students enrolled in a graduate programme to undertake an internship at its New York Headquarters. These may be consulted at http://inspira.un.org.
How many international counter-terrorism legal instruments are there?
Since 1963, the international community has adopted 19 international counter-terrorism legal instruments. Developed under the auspices of the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), they are open to participation by all Member States.