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

 

On 21 August, the United Nations observe the International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism (A/RES/72/165). This day is meant to pay tribute to the individuals across the globe who have been attacked, injured, traumatized or lost their lives because of terrorist attacks. It represents a major step forward in standing in solidarity with the victims of terrorism.

The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, adopted in 2006 by the United Nations General Assembly (A/RES/60/288), has laid the foundation for the United Nation's work on and with victims of terrorism. The issues with which victims of terrorism are confronted are addressed under Pillar I and Pillar IV of the Strategy. These strive to " promote international solidarity in support of victims", stress " the need to promote and protect the rights of victims of terrorism", and seek to address the " dehumanization of victims of terrorism" by promoting " solidarity for victims of terrorism and assistance for victims and their families and facilitate the normalization of their lives." The last three outcome resolutions of the Strategy review (A/RES/66/282, A/RES/68/276 and A/RES/72/284) have all emphasized the important role of victims in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism as well as recognizing and upholding their human rights.

Law enforcement and criminal justice officers in the Sahel and neighboring countries have continuously benefitted from workshops organized by UNODC's Regional Office for West and Central Africa on the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of terrorism-related cases, as well as on cooperation at national, regional and international level. Member States are reinforcing their mechanisms for effective countering violent extremism measures and are becoming more efficient, evidence-based, timely, transparent and accountable. However, victims of terrorism continue to struggle to have their voices heard, their needs supported and their rights upheld.

In the Sahel Region, supporting the needs of victims is becoming an issue which the national authorities are aware of. A Niger prosecutor in charge of terrorism cases testifies: " The Niger authorities have taken several actions in the context of securing people and property ... and are tackling the root causes by mobilizing funds for social development programs for the regions affected in favor of the victims' communities ... " 

Taking care of the needs of victims is a major challenge in the fight against this phenomenon for the United Nations, whose Secretary General has stated on the 17 august 2018 "When we lift up the victims and survivors of terrorism, when we listen to their voices, when we respect their rights and provide them with support and justice, we are honoring our common bonds, and reducing the lasting damage done by terrorists to individuals, families and communities"

UNODC is thus investing in victims' support. It has  published two manuals on victims of terrorism : " Good Practices in Supporting Victims of Terrorism within the Criminal Justice Framework" and " The Criminal Justice Response to Support Victims of Acts of Terrorism"

Furthermore, through a project on Gender Dimensions of Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism, implemented jointly with OHCHR and in partnership with UN Women, UNODC also focuses on the unique challenges of integrating gender dimensions in the fight against terrorism. Globally, women are increasingly impacted by and involved in the activities of terrorist groups, including as victims of sexual and gender-based violence through forced marriage, rape and other forms. Women are also perpetrators, serving as messengers, spies, smugglers, recruiters, and providers of funds.

The international community has increasingly recognized that women and men can be vulnerable to terrorism in different ways, and that the measures that government's take against these crimes can also affect each gender differently. To support Member States, UNODC has organized a series of awareness raising and capacity building workshops in the region. These training workshops focused on gender-sensitive handling of offenders, victims and witnesses and sexual gender-based violence in order to focus on practical issues (evidence, interviewing victims, suspects and witnesses, conditions of detention etc.) related to the prosecution and investigation of terrorism cases.

Besides UNODC's initiatives, the UN's Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) launched in June 2014 the United Nations Victims of Terrorism Support Portal, which facilitates access to resources for victims, their families and communities - be it psychosocial support, understanding how to access national criminal justice systems or rehabilitation opportunities offered by Member States.

For more information :

Victims of terrorism support portal

UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel