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Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin (A/76/261) [EN/AR/ZH]

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Advancing human rights through the mainstreaming of human rights in counter-terrorism capacity-building and technical assistance at the national, regional and global levels

Summary

The present report addresses the human rights and international law dimensions of the provision of capacity-building and technical assistance in the context of countering terrorism and countering or preventing violent extremism. It is written in the context of the extraordinary expansion of capacity-building and technical assistance in countering terrorism and countering or preventing violent extremism. The Special Rapporteur affirms that human rights and rule of law-compliant capacitybuilding and technical assistance play a valuable role in strengthening a “whole-ofsociety” approach to countering terrorism and can be a vital aspect of preventing the conditions conducive to the emergence of sustained violence in society. She observes, however, that the provision of counter-terrorism capacity-building and technical assistance comes in the context of unprecedented growth for counter-terrorism institutions, normative frameworks, programming and funding over the past two decades. She notes the increased role of certain United Nations entities in providing counter-terrorism capacity-building and technical assistance to States and the absence of comparable scaling in human rights due diligence.

The Special Rapporteur observes deep rule of law and human rights deficits in the provision of capacity-building and technical assistance in contexts where national definitions of terrorism and violent extremism are not compliant with international law, target the legitimate exercise of fundamental human rights and function to sustain and enable authoritarian modes of governance. She identifies an absolute dearth of ethically appropriate and scientifically rigorous monitoring and evaluation of capacity-building and technical assistance in the counter-terrorism arena, including by United Nations entities. She notes a sustained pattern of “one-off” and “train and equip” interventions, which are rarely integrated into a holistic approach to justice, security, governance and development at the national level, leaving underlying structures and injustices untouched and festering.

The Special Rapporteur stresses the need for the alignment of counter-terrorism capacity-building and technical assistance with sustained efforts to increase rule of law effectiveness, sustainable development priorities, anti-corruption measures, accountable institutional structures and the alignment of such priorities with existing development goals and processes. She identifies a pervasive failure to ensure that capacity-building and technical assistance is owned by a wide and diverse variety of stakeholders, including civil society at the national level. Civil society participation in and civilian oversight of the security sector is essential to prevent terrorism effectively. She decries a supply-driven, consumer request model of counter-terrorism capacity-building and technical assistance whose rationales are often far removed from genuine engagement with the conditions conducive to terrorism and lie in regime survival, parasitic co-option of security resources and funds and self-interest from security sectors. She cautions United Nations entities engaged in counter-terrorism capacity-building and technical assistance that their due diligence obligations must be observed rigorously and that they cannot be complicit in strengthening systems of coercion and violence in the name of countering terrorism or preventing (violent) extremism. Counter-terrorism capacity-building and technical assistance practices are in dire need of transparency, accountability and overhaul to be both effective and human rights compliant.