Most victims of terrorism are innocent citizens who find themselves at the wrong place and at the wrong time, randomly targeted in brutal attacks. The lives of survivors of attacks, and those of victims’ families, are irreparably damaged.
While States take terrorism very seriously as a security threat, they do not necessarily always ensure adequate support to victims and their families. Victims of terrorism and their families need focused and dedicated mechanisms to ensure that their rights as individuals are upheld and protected.
The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy highlights the importance of supporting victims of terrorist acts and encourages the creation of national systems of assistance.
On the margins of the 2021 United Nations Counter-Terrorism Week, H.E. Ms. Ghada Fathi Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, virtually delivered her remarks at the High-Level session on The importance of model legal provisions to strengthen comprehensive national assistance plans for victims of terrorism on 25 June 2021.
During the High-Level session, H.E. Ms. Waly underlined the partnership between the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and UNODC under the IPU-UN Joint-Programme on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism.
Ms. Waly specifically highlighted the joint work with IPU and UNOCT to “develop model legislative provisions on victims of terrorism, which will be launched later this year”. Noting resources and tools already developed by UNODC with and for victims, Ms. Waly observed that “UNODC’s contribution draws on the Office’s integrated mandates addressing crime and terrorism, and its support for the implementation of UN standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice.”
The purpose of the model legislative provisions is to serve as a model for the review of existing laws and procedures related to victims of terrorism in line with recent advances on this subject matter and the development of legislation where no legislation exists. Furthermore, the provisions can systematize and promote the exchange of information regarding existing good practices. Additionally, the development of model legislative provisions can serve to draw attention to the urgency of taking concrete steps to protect, assist and support victims of terrorism.
UNODC and its partners base the draft model legislative provisions on an intensive consultation process that involved more than 200 experts from governments, victims’ associations, academia, civil society and other parts of the United Nations. The consultations included eight expert meetings between July 2020 and June 2021 on a range of specific subjects such as the rights to compensation; recognition and remembrance; assistance and support for victims of terrorism; protection of privacy and dignity of victims; the role of victims’ associations and non-governmental organizations; and access to justice.
The event on the 25 June 2021 was organized in a virtual format by the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism/Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNOCT/UNCCT), the Office of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the IPU and UNODC.