Strengthening legal systems to tackle terrorism

Photo: UNODC4 May 2015 - Terrorism continues to represent one of the greatest global challenges to international stability and security, and given the international nature of modern terrorism, no country is immune. To counter this threat, there are many important steps that States need to take, with establishing a strong legal system against terrorism key among them. In light of this, two new UNODC-developed handbooks - one on human rights and another on air and sea terrorism prevention - aim to assist States in strengthening their efforts against terrorist activities.

The guides are part of UNODC's ongoing Counter-Terrorism Legal Training Curriculum, a knowledge-sharing platform designed to build capacity among national criminal justice officials to enhance their legal efforts against terrorism. The Curriculum integrates training materials on related topics, such as money laundering and organized crime, addressing this scourge in a holistic manner. This helps the target audience - including law enforcement officials such as police, prosecutors and judges; policymakers; and officials from departments such as Foreign Affairs, Justice and Interior - to better draft relevant laws and apply international treaties.

The two new handbooks in the series - 'Human Rights and Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism' and 'Transport related (Civil Aviation and Maritime) Terrorism Offences' - join two existing pieces related to the universal legal framework and international cooperation against terrorism. Developed with input from experts in each field, the collection of specialized manuals act as a guide for capacity-building activities, and as practical handbooks that can be used by local authorities on criminal justice workshops employing the 'train the trainer' method.

In the latest handbooks, the section on human rights in terrorism cases looks to help officials apply global and regional human rights norms and follow good practices in the matter. It builds on the recognition that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are essential elements of any effective counter-terrorism strategy. By analyzing relevant cases that have been decided by international human rights bodies, the guide highlights the key lessons that can be derived from these cases.

The handbook on transport-related terrorism meanwhile was developed in collaboration with other UN organizations working in this area, including the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization. This guide addresses the global threat presented by terrorist acts against aircraft and ships, their passengers, cargo or crew, or against airports and seaports. It assists policy makers, legislators, and criminal justice officials to apply the multiple international conventions in this area.

Further information:

UNODC and terrorism prevention

UNODC's technical assistance tools in countering terrorism

UNODC's counter-terrorism legal training curriculum modules