The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Terrorism Prevention

Terrorism continues to pose a major threat to international peace and security and undermines the core values of the United Nations. In addition to the devastating human cost of terrorism, in terms of lives lost or permanently altered, terrorist acts aim to destabilize governments and undermine economic and social development.  Addressing this threat is that much more difficult given the complex and constantly evolving nature of terrorist activity. Its motivations, financing, methods of attack and choice of target are constantly changing. Terrorist acts often defy national borders; one act of terrorism can involve activities and actors from numerous countries. Given this complexity, strong coordination and cooperation within national governments and between states and organizations at the regional and international level is essential to effectively combat terrorism, to share best practices and lessons learned and to assist with the investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases.

In response to this threat, gradually over five decades of work, the international community has developed a common universal legal framework against terrorism. This framework is comprised of the 18 universal legal instruments against terrorism along with the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions. The implementation of these conventions, protocols and resolutions is informed by the guidance provided by the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy along with United Nations General Assembly Resolutions.

The Terrorism Prevention Branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has a specific role to play in these international efforts. For over a decade, the Terrorism Prevention Branch has been the key United Nations entity providing legal counter-terrorism technical assistance to Member States.  As mandated by the United Nations General Assembly, the Branch works to assist Member States, upon request, with the ratification, legislative incorporation and implementation of the universal legal framework against terrorism.

Within the United Nations system, UNODC possesses significant comparative advantages for offering a comprehensive response to terrorism. In particular, it combines a range of expertise in the related areas of crime prevention and criminal justice, rule of law, drug control, transnational organized crime, money-laundering, corruption and related international cooperation in criminal matters with operational field-level capacity.