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A/HRC/40/52: Impact of measures to address terrorism and violent extremism on civic space and the rights of civil society actors and human rights defenders


01 March 2019

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In this report, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, examines the impact that measures and practices used to counter terrorism and to prevent and counter extremism have on the protection of human rights for civil society and human rights defenders. She further examines the global challenges of protecting civic space that have arisen as a result of the implementation of counter-terrorism law and practice. Since 2001, civil society space has been shrinking around the globe. This is indisputably linked to the expansion of security measures.

The Special Rapporteur gives an empirically based assessment of the scale of misuse of such measures, and identifies trends and patterns in State practice. Targeting civil society violates human rights and makes for inept and poorly executed counter-terrorism practice. It undermines the fundamental interests of all States and must be addressed urgently.

  1. Trends and patterns in the use of counter-terrorism measures against civil society actors and human rights defenders
    1. Counter-terrorism architecture, security imperatives and civil society
    2. The value of civil society in countering terrorism
  2. The Impact of the global matrixes that regulate counter-terrorism, PVE and national security on civil society
    1. The Security Council
    2. The General Assembly
    3. The Role of new global outsource entities
  3. Typology of national measures and trends impacting civil society
    1. Security legislation: Overly broad definitions
    2. Legislation criminalising the legitimate exercise of fundamental freedoms
    3. Legislation strictly regulating the existence of civil society
    4. Measures that limit various forms of support to terrorism
    5. Indiscriminate legislation choking civil society
    6. Increased use of administrative measures
    7. Devolution of regulation to private actors
    8. Overlapping, cumulative and sustained forms of harassment
    9. Media campaigns
    10. Physical harassment
    11. Judicial harassment
    12. Group Persecution
  4. Key effects on civil society
  5. Conclusion and recommendations

Issued By:

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism

Delivered To:

the 40th session of the Human Rights Council