The Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB) of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been entrusted by the General Assembly to provide technical assistance to requesting Member States on the ratification and implementation of the 18 international legal instruments related to the prevention and suppression of international terrorism.
Over five decades, these 18 international legally binding instruments have been developed largely as responses to specific terrorist incidents or threats and cover offences related to civil aviation (i.e. hijacking, aviation sabotage); crimes against internationally protected persons (i.e. the kidnapping of diplomats); hostage taking; illicit use or handling of nuclear materials; acts against the safety of maritime navigation and fixed platforms located on the continental shelf; terrorist bombings; financing of terrorism; and acts involving the criminal use or handling of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials or weapons.
These instruments do not define terrorism but create obligations on state parties to: criminalize the offences in question under domestic law; exercise jurisdiction over offenders under prescribed conditions; establish the obligation to extradite or prosecute; and set up mechanisms for enhancing international cooperation in criminal matters.
Since 2003 when the Terrorism Prevention Branch began its technical assistance efforts, 611 new ratifications of the universal legal instruments against terrorism have occurred by countries assisted by the Branch. However, universal ratification is far from achieved, particularly for those instruments that were more recently adopted in 2005 and 2010. In addition, even after ratification, long-term sustained efforts are required to achieve effective implementation of the provisions of these instruments. To this end, the Terrorism Prevention Branch is encouraging Member States to avail themselves of the assistance it is able to provide.