Technical assistance in implementing the international conventions and protocols related to terrorism - Report of the Secretary-General (E/CN.15/2021/5)

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Commission on Crime Prevention
and Criminal Justice
Thirtieth session
Vienna, 17–21 May 2021
Item 6 (c) of the provisional agenda *
Integration and coordination of efforts by the
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and by
Member States in the field of crime prevention and
criminal justice: ratification and implementation
of the international instruments to prevent and
combat terrorism


The present report reviews the progress made in 2020 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in supporting Member States in becoming party to and implementing the international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism, as well as in implementing relevant United Nations resolutions. The report also highlights key achievements of the Office in delivering technical assistance on the legal and criminal justice aspects of countering terrorism while responding to emerging challenges and evolving needs of Member States, in particular the challenges posed by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) health crisis. The report presents a set of conclusions for consideration by the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

I. Introduction

1. Preventing terrorism and addressing conditions conducive to terrorism are crucial for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) contributes to the implementation of several Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls), Goal 11 (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) and Goal 16 (Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels).

2. UNODC is mandated to provide countries, upon request, technical assistance in normative, policy, strategic, institutional and operational aspects of preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism. The General Assembly has reiterated and elaborated this mandate in a number of its recent resolutions, including resolution 74/194 and resolution 75/145, on measures to eliminate international terrorism; resolution 74/175, on technical assistance provided by UNODC related to counter-terrorism; resolution 73/305, on enhancement of international cooperation to assist victims of terrorism; resolution 72/196 and resolution 73/186, on strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity; and resolution 72/284, on the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy review.

3. In its resolution 74/175, the General Assembly requested UNODC to continue provide assistance to Member States related to the international legal instruments against terrorism; international legal and judicial cooperation pertaining to countering terrorism; criminal matters related to foreign terrorist fighters; international cooperation in criminal matters; collecting, analysing, preserving, storing, using an d sharing forensic and electronic evidence for the investigation and prosecution of terrorism and terrorism-related offences; mutual legal assistance; counter-terrorist financing measures; links between transnational organized crime and terrorism; criminal justice responses and strategies for reducing the risk of terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear terrorism; programmes for victims of terrorism; mainstreaming gender perspectives into criminal justice responses to terrorism; and preventing the involvement of children in terrorist groups, ensuring the rehabilitation and reintegration of children associated with such groups, and ensuring that children alleged to have, accused of having or recognized as having infringed the law, particularly those who are deprived of their liberty, and those who are victims and witnesses of crime are treated in a manner that is in accordance with international law.

4. The Office’s work is also guided by recent Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2482 (2019), on threats to international peace and security; resolution 2467 (2019), on women and peace and security and sexual violence in conflict; resolution 2462 (2019), on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts and preventing and combating the financing of terrorism; resolution 2341 (2017), on terrorist threats against critical infrastructure; resolution 2347 (2017), on the destruction of cultural heritage and the smuggling of cultural property by terrorist groups in situations of armed conflict; resolution 2354 (2017), on countering terrorist narratives; resolution 2368 (2017), reaffirming the sanctions regime against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) (Da’esh); resolution 2370 (2017), on preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons; and resolution 2396 (2017), on terrorist fighters returning and relocating to their countries of origin or nationality, or to third countries. Pursuant to resolutions 2444 (2018) and 2498 (2019), the Office, through the Indian Ocean Forum on Maritime Crime, is mandated to work with Somalia and relevant countries to develop strategies to disrupt the illicit trafficking of charcoal and other goods that finance Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

5. The present report covers major activities undertaken by UNODC from 1 January to 31 December 2020. During the reporting period, UNODC assisted Member States and regional organizations in their efforts to prevent and combat terrorism, in line with the implementation of the United Nations Global Cou nterTerrorism Strategy. The Office’s support focused on helping Member States adhere to and implement the 19 international legal instruments to prevent and combat terrorism and develop efficient crime prevention and criminal justice responses that meet human rights and rule of law standards. Following the consequences of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) health crisis, the Office quickly adapted its assistance to Member States in response to their changing needs and restricted access.