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International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism 21 August 2019

States must recommit to ensuring rights of terrorism victims, says UN rights expert

GENEVA (20 August 2019) – In a statement to mark the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, 21 August, the UN Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, urges Governments to step up efforts to implement the rights of victims:

The International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism is an important and timely reminder of the harms suffered by victims, and of their needs and rights.

“I stress my commitment to ensuring that the human rights of these victims are secured. This year’s focus on the power of resilience of the victims of terrorism and their families is particularly important.”

I call on States to reaffirm their commitment to implementing the rights of victims, ensuring they have access to justice, as well as their rights to remedy and reparation as guaranteed by international human rights law.

Victims of terrorism face multiple and various challenges. These include the reality that the perpetrators have destroyed and harmed people with no connection to them who were simply going about their ordinary and daily lives, with the primary purpose of instilling fear in order to advance ideologies.

These victims often experience violence that is faceless, nameless and entirely indiscriminate. Few have the physical, emotional, legal or financial resources to respond to such violence, and to navigate the complex legal, medical, social and economic consequences that follow.

Those who survive are young and old, male and female, of multiple religious faiths and nationalities. They are united by an experience that had been sought by none of them.

“I must remind States that protecting and ensuring the rights of victims are among the fundamental strategies for preventing terrorism and stopping the cycles that produce violence.”

The resilience of victims depends upon governments moving beyond rhetoric and protecting the rights of victims in practice. On this international day of remembrance, I recommit myself, in the discharge of this mandate, to remaining vigilant on behalf of victims and being a persuasive advocate on their behalf.


Ms Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin (Ireland), the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, took up her functions on 1 August 2017. She is a University Regents Professor at the University of Minnesota; holder of the Robina Chair in Law, Public Policy, and Society; and faculty director of the Human Rights Center at the University of Minnesota Law School. She is concurrently a Professor of Law at the University of Ulster’s Transitional Justice Institute in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and is co-founder and associate director of the Institute.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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