Legal Issues

Legal Issues

The adoption of Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) introduced a significant new dimension to international counter-terrorism law by requiring all Member States to criminalize various acts associated with terrorism, as well as participation in the financing, planning, preparation, or perpetration of such acts. The resolution emphasizes the need to bring terrorists to justice through effective criminalization and requires that the punishment duly reflect the seriousness of such acts.


The Counter-Terrorism Committee is tasked with monitoring, promoting, and facilitating States’ implementation of Council resolutions 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005), 2178 (2014), 2396 (2017), and other relevant resolutions. The Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) supports the Committee by assessing Member States’ counter-terrorism efforts, including progress made, remaining shortfalls, and priority areas for technical assistance needs, as well as by identifying terrorism-related trends and challenges and good practices employed in the implementation of the relevant Council resolutions.


Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) addresses the exceptional challenges posed by the foreign terrorist fighter (FTF) threat and establishes States’ obligation to criminalize additional acts specific to the FTF threat and ensure that prospective terrorists can be brought to justice for actions taken to prepare or facilitate terrorist acts, including travel.


In its resolution 2396 (2017), the Council calls on Member States to strengthen measures to prevent the transit of terrorists, including taking appropriate action with respect to suspected terrorists and their accompanying family members who entered their territories. While emphasizing that Member States are obliged to bring to justice anyone who has participated in a terrorist act, the resolution stresses the importance of assisting women and children associated with FTFs who might be victims of terrorism. It also underlines the need for comprehensive and tailored prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration (PRR) strategies for family members that might have abetted terrorist acts in various roles, taking into account gender and age sensitivities in the design of such strategies.

CTED’s legal experts help States ensure that their measures respect the rule of law, including human rights, and support the international criminal justice system by collaborating closely with legal professionals within the framework of workshops and seminars.

CTED facilitates the delivery of support to victims of terrorism; works with parliamentarians to ensure a holistic approach to legal issues; and facilitates delivery of technical assistance, including in legal matters, by identifying best practices and effective technical, financial, regulatory, and legislative assistance programmes, promoting synergies between the assistance programmes of international, regional, and subregional organizations, and serving as an intermediary between potential donors and recipients.

CTED also maintains an on-line directory of assistance providers.

In its efforts to help States address the challenges involved in bringing terrorists to justice, CTED has participated in or co-organized a series of seminars for national counter-terrorism prosecutors. In order to promote a criminal justice approach to counter-terrorism, it also holds seminars for judges and prosecutors. CTED also facilitates long-term initiatives, together with its implementing partners, drawing on the experiences shared and lessons learned. These initiatives are held in all regions of the world and address certain key topics in greater depth.

Download the CTED factsheet about legal issues.