Acts of terrorism, cutting across a wide range of hateful ideologies, have not ceased to harm, injure, and kill countless innocent people every year. Survivors and victims of this act often find it difficult to have their needs supported, their voices heard, and their rights upheld, even as this act is has been internationally condemned. The moment the aftermath of a terrorist attack goes away, victims usually feel neglected and forgotten — these feelings usually have consequences.
Only few Member States of the United Nations possess the capacity and resources to cater for the medium and long-term needs of victims of terrorist attacks to enable their total recovery, rehabilitation, and re-integration into society. The recovery of most victims and their ways of coping with their trauma mostly relies on long-term multi-dimensional support, including physical, social, psychological, and financial support. One of the primary responsibilities of Member States is to provide support for victims and survivors of terrorism, and to ensure that their rights are upheld.
Member States are encouraged to protect & uphold the rights of victims.
Also, the United Nations has a significant role to play in providing support to Member States for the implementation of the “UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy” by making sure it stands in solidarity and provides support to victims of the attack; offers capacity building assistance; establishes networks; and offers support to civil society organizations, especially associations of victims. It also encourages Member States to ensure promotion, protection and respect of the rights of victims. It provides technical assistance and capacity-building to Member States and associations of victims to address their needs better.
The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 72/165 (2017), made the establishment of the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism. The day was set aside to be celebrated every year on August 21, in a bid to support and honour the survivors and victims of terrorist attacks and to ensure the promotion and protection of their deserved fundamental freedoms and human rights. In April 2020, a report was published by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, which was mandated by resolution 73/305 of the General Assembly.
Biennial review resolutions of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
This report was centered on the “Progress of the UN system to support Member States in assisting victims of terrorism” (A/74/790). This report requested that International Cooperation to provide assistance to victims was enhanced. Through the biennial review resolutions of the “Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy”, Member States have stressed the significant role that victims of the attack play in the promotion of international solidarity, combating the heinous act, prevention of violent extremism, and assisting Member States in the recognition and upholding of their human rights.
Following the sixth review of the Strategy in 2018, there have been an increased demonstration of support to victims at the international, regional, and national levels, proving that the support being rendered goes beyond symbolic solidarity, but includes a more robust engagement to improve their needs and rights. This demonstration is more apparent in the establishment of a Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism in 2019, and the General Assembly’s adopted resolution A/RES/73/305 to enhance International Cooperation for the assistance of victims.
Development of national comprehensive assistance plans for victims.
According to the eighth review, A/RES/77/298/, adopted on June 22, 2023, there is a need to understand the significance of upholding the rights and assisting the needs of victims, particularly women, children, and those who suffered sexual and gender-based violence from terrorists. Therefore, all Member States are urged to begin development of national comprehensive assistance plans for victims of these attacks and their families to address their every need. The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Legacy: Finding Hope and Building a Better Future.”
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