Call for submissions: Soft law” and informal lawmaking in the global counter-terrorism architecture: Assessing implications on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism is studying the impact of the proliferation of “soft law” instruments and related standard-setting initiatives and processes in the counter-terrorism context on global governance on the promotion and protection of human rights at the global, regional and domestic level. The outcome of the study will contribute to the report of the Special Rapporteur to be submitted to the 74th session of the General Assembly.

Consistent with the priorities set by the Special Rapporteur’s mandate and the mandate’s sustained attention to the global, regional and national governance in the area of counter-terrorism, the Special Rapporteur’s forthcoming report to the General Assembly’s 74th session will address additional and pressing dimensions of counter-terrorism governance.  Building on her report to the 73rd session of the General Assembly (A/73/361), the Special Rapporteur will assess, analyze and chart the increased resort to generically named “soft” law in the counter-terrorism sphere. Her analysis will pay particular attention to the ways in which international human rights norms and standards are integrated in these initiatives and processes, both at the level of the developing entities and with a view of their implementation. In this respect, she aims to examine the mandates, governance  and processes of the entities and initiatives developing relevant  “soft law” instruments and standards  as well as the human rights monitoring, evaluation and oversight mechanisms set up with the aim of ensuring that these instruments and standards are implemented in line with obligations under international human rights law and other bodies of specialized norms, including international humanitarian law and refugee law. 

She notes that for the purposes of the forthcoming report, “soft law” will be defined broadly, encompassing non-legally-binding instruments and standards pertaining to preventing or countering terrorism and violent extremism, developed with the involvement of, or endorsed by, a formal or informal grouping of States and/or international or regional organizations.  

The Special Rapporteur is eager to consult a wide range of stakeholders, including States, United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, other international and regional organizations, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations and private sector entities, academia and other experts in order to benefit from their diverse views and experience on these matters.

She therefore invites all interested stakeholders to share concise comments and/or existing or already published material focusing on entities and initiatives involved in the development of soft law instruments and standards. Actors and initiatives of interest include but are not limited to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and FATF-style regional bodies, the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF), GCTF-inspired bodies and implementing partners, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Stakeholders are invited to address information including but not limited to the following:

  • The mandate of relevant actors, bodies and initiatives, their governance structure as well as the rules and mechanisms governing their functioning;
  • Rules governing the standard-setting and other processes leading to the establishment of soft law instruments and standards. The Special Rapporteur is particularly interested in information on ways to ensure the inclusiveness and transparency of such processes, such as through meaningful consultation of relevant stakeholders, including domestic, regional and international human rights mechanisms, civil society organizations and other actors with pertinent expertise;
  • Ways in which international law norms and standards are incorporated in the work of these actors, bodies and initiatives, with particular focus on international human rights law, as well as international humanitarian law and refugee law, if and when relevant to the standard-setting activities in question. Pertinent information includes ways in which such instruments and standards incorporate human rights benchmarking, both when it comes to the standard-setting process as well as dissemination and implementation of resulting standards; as well as on mechanisms for monitoring, evaluation and oversight of the human rights impact of their implementation and use.
  • Information on the dissemination and use of these instruments and standards and on ways in which they influence policy- and norm-making in other domestic, regional or international fora, with particular focus on their influence on norm- and standard-setting at the level of the United Nations.

All submissions should be sent electronically (Word format) in English, French or Spanish, no later than 15 July 2019 to using the email title: “Submission for SRCT report on soft law”. Kindly limit submissions to 2,500 words and attach annexes where necessary.

The information received will be posted on the mandate’s website at the time of the publication of the report, unless clearly stated otherwise.



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