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Joint statement by Mary Robinson,
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Walter Schwimmer, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and Ambassador Gérard Stoudmann, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
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29 November 2001




The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights resolutely condemn all forms and manifestations of terrorism. Terrorism is a threat to peace, stability, freedom and democracy. We consider the 11 September terrorist attacks as a crime against humanity. All states have the obligation to eradicate terrorism and protect their citizens from terrorist acts.

UN Security Council resolution 1373 of 28 September 2001 requires all states to take a wide range of legislative, procedural, economic, and other measures on preventing, prohibiting, and criminalizing terrorist acts. At the same time, in pursuing the objective of eradicating terrorism, it is essential that states strictly adhere to their international obligations and commitments to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms. While we recognize that the threat of terrorism may require specific measures, we call on all governments to refrain from any excessive steps, which would violate fundamental freedoms and undermine legitimate dissent. Such steps might particularly affect the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial, freedom from torture, privacy rights, freedom of expression and assembly, and the right to seek asylum. Anti-terrorism measures targeting specific ethnic or religious groups would also be contrary to human rights law and international commitments and would carry the risk of sparking a dangerous upsurge of discrimination and racism. The process of adopting derogations must be consistent with established national and international procedures and mechanisms. The purpose of anti-terrorism measures is to protect human rights and democracy, not to undermine these fundamental values of our societies. The nature and manner of implementation of such measures must be fully consistent with this.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council of Europe and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights stand ready to assist states with developing appropriate responses to terrorism, and to monitor the implementation of anti-terrorism measures.


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