Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a global challenge. It causes lasting damage to individuals, families and communities. These scars run deep, and while they may fade with time, they never disappear.
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres
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 occured 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 on remembrance was launched, "Not Forgotten: Stories of Remembrance from Victims of Terrorism" with 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 sought 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.
This event was organized in collaboration with the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism.
The ceremony was broadcasted live on UN Web TV
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The General Assembly, in its resolution 72/165 (2017), established 21 August as the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism in order to honor and support the victims and survivors of terrorism and to promote and protect the full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
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, mobilise the international community and better address the needs of victims of terrorism.
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 recognising and upholding their human rights.
The sixth review resolution ( A/RES/72/284) 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 recognising that victims who are resilient are less vulnerable to the impacts of terrorism and are able to cope and heal.
Since the sixth review, developments at the international, regional and national levels have increasingly demonstrated that support to victims has moved beyond symbolic solidarity towards a more robust engagement to advance their rights and needs. This is reflected in the establishment of a Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism and General Assembly resolution A/RES/73/305 on the enhancement of international cooperation to assist victims of terrorism.
In April 2020, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres published his report on the ‘Progress of the UN system to support Member States in assisting victims of terrorism’ ( A/74/790) which was mandated this resolution.