When countering terrorism, States are required to respect international human rights.  Furthermore, counter-terrorism measures that violate human rights are counterproductive. They may provoke further acts of terrorism, undermine the effectiveness of law enforcement, and restrict effective international legal cooperation.

The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy “recognize[s] that States may require assistance in developing and maintaining … effective and rule of law-based criminal justice systems, and [encourages] them to resort to the technical assistance delivered, inter alia, by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime”.

The Strategy also identifies “lack of the rule of law and violations of human rights” among the “conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism”, and emphasizes that “effective counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights are not conflicting goals, but complementary and mutually reinforcing”.

UNODC integrates human rights standards into all aspects of its counter-terrorism related legislative assistance and capacity-building work. We support Member States to ensure that domestic counter-terrorism measures are fully compliant with human rights standards and founded on the rule of law.

Assistance tools

UNODC has developed, in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a training module on Human Rights and Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism as part of UNODC’s Counter-Terrorism Legal Training Curriculum. This tool aims to enhance the ability of national law enforcement and criminal justice training institutions worldwide to deliver more effective training on the human rights aspects of preventing and combating terrorism.

We have also developed a module of its Counter-Terrorism Legal Training Curriculum on Counter-Terrorism in the International Law Context – which includes chapters on international human rights law, international refugee law and international criminal law.

In partnership with Kenyan experts and practitioners, UNODC also developed the Kenya Training Manual on Human Rights and Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism. The manual examines the human rights issues that arise while investigating, prosecuting, and trying terrorist-based offences through an analysis of Kenyan, regional and international law.


We coordinate closely with other United Nations entities through participation in the United Nations Global Compact Working Group on Promoting and Protecting Human Rights and the Rule of Law while Countering Terrorism and Supporting Victims of Terrorism, and has a strong partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.