Annan calls for outlawing terror, protecting human rights

Annan calls for outlawing terror, protecting human rights

[JURIST] Speaking Thursday at a global anti-terrorism summit in Madrid [summit website] slated to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the Madrid train bombings, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called for terrorism to be outlawed in all its forms, but insisted that the fight against terror must be consistent with the protection of human rights:

…terrorism is a threat to all states and to all peoples, which can strike anytime, anywhere. It is a direct attack on the core values the United Nations stands for: the rule of law; the protection of civilians; mutual respect between people of different faiths and cultures; and peaceful resolution of conflict.

…[W]e cannot compromise on the core values I have listed. In particular, human rights and the rule of law must always be respected. As I see it, terrorism is in itself a direct attack on human rights and the rule of law. If we sacrifice them in our response, we are handing a victory to the terrorists….

I regret to say that international human rights experts, including those of the UN system, are unanimous in finding that many measures which States are currently adopting to counter terrorism infringe on human rights and fundamental freedoms. Human rights law makes ample provision for strong counter-terrorist action, even in the most exceptional circumstances. But compromising human rights cannot serve the struggle against terrorism. On the contrary, it facilitates achievement of the terrorist’s objective — by ceding to him the moral high ground, and provoking tension, hatred and mistrust of government among precisely those parts of the population where he is most likely to find recruits. Upholding human rights is not merely compatible with a successful counter-terrorism strategy. It is an essential element in it.

Read the full text of Annan's speech, online from the summit website. BBC News has more.