International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism
“I welcome the decision of the General Assembly to establish an International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism. We must lift up the voices of victims and survivors of terrorist attacks, who consistently call for accountability and results. When we respect the human rights of victims and provide them with support and information, we reduce the lasting damage done by terrorists to individuals, communities and societies.” — UN Secretary-General, António Guterres
While more countries are affected by terrorism today, the number of victims has largely been concentrated in a small number of Member States. In 2017 alone, nearly three-quarters of all deaths caused by terrorism were in just five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria.
Victims of terrorism continue to struggle to have their voices heard, have their needs supported and their rights upheld. Victims often feel forgotten and neglected once the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack fades, which can have profound consequences for them. Few Members States have the resources or the capacity to fulfill the medium and long-term needs required for victims to fully recover, rehabilitate and integrate back into society. Victims can only recover and cope with their trauma through long-term multi-dimensional support, including physical, psychological, social and financial, in order to heal and live with dignity.
The primary responsibility to support victims of terrorism and uphold their rights rests with Member States. The United Nations has an important role in supporting Member States to implement Pillar I and IV of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy through standing in solidarity and providing support to victims, capacity building assistance, establishing networks of, and offering support to, civil society organizations, particularly victims of terrorism associations, and encouraging Member States to promote, protect and respect the rights of victims. The United Nations has been working to provide resources, mobilize the international community and better address the needs of victims of terrorism.
Imrana Alhaji Buba is the Founder of the Youth Coalition Against Terrorism, a volunteer association in Nigeria that aims to unite young people against violent extremism. Imrana speaks about his experience as a victim of Boko Haram in Nigeria.
The last three outcome resolutions of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy review (A/RES/66/282, A/RES/68/276 and A/RES/72/284) have all emphasized the important role of victims in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism as well as recognizing and upholding their human rights.
The sixth review resolution (A/RES/72/284), particularly notes that building resilience of victims and their families, through the provision of proper support and assistance immediately after an attack and in the longer-term is a major step forward in recognizing that victims who are resilient are less vulnerable to the impacts of terrorism and are able to cope, heal and recover more rapidly after an attack.
This year, the observance of the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to Victims of Terrorism (A/RES/72/165) represents a major step forward in standing in solidarity with victims of terrorism. By inviting Member States, the United Nations, international organizations and civil society entities to observe the Day, attention to victims will be focused at the national, regional and international levels.
To observe the first International Day, the Permanent Missions of Afghanistan, Belgium, Iraq, Nigeria, and the United States, along with the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNCTED) will launch a multimedia exhibit on August 17, 2018 from 10:30 – 11:30 am at the Exhibition Hall, Visitors’ Lobby at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The exhibition, opened by H.E. Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, will feature the voices of victims, experts, and civil society leaders who have either been affected by a terrorist attack or have worked with victims.
The month-long exhibition (1 August – 4 September 2018) includes interviews and documentaries that highlight international solidarity with victims, shows positive stories of victims’ resilience and illustrates what has been done for and by victims over the last decades.
The General Assembly, in its resolution 72/165 (2017), established 21 August as the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism in order to honor and support the victims and survivors of terrorism and to promote and protect the full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms
Resolution 72/165 builds on existing efforts by the General Assembly, the Commission of Human Rights and the Human Rights Council to promote and protect the rights of victims of terrorism.
By proclaiming an International Day dedicated to victims, the General Assembly reaffirmed that the promotion and the protection of human rights and the rule of law at the national; and international levels are essential for preventing and combating terrorism.
The Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, adopted unanimously in its resolution 60/288, on 8 September 2006, notes that the dehumanization of victims counts among the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, and the most effective way to counter terrorism is through measures that respect human dignity and uphold the rule of law.
Secretary-General’s Message for 2018
Terrorism is one of the most challenging issues of our time and a serious threat to international peace and security. From Tajikistan to the United Kingdom, from Baghdad to Barcelona, these ruthless attacks have shaken us all to the core. No country can consider itself immune, with almost every nationality in the world falling victim to terrorist attacks.
The United Nations itself is regularly targeted. Twenty-two people lost their lives in the attack on the headquarters of the United Nations mission in Iraq, which took place 15 years ago this week. Some of our peacekeeping missions are under constant threat.
But after terrorist attacks, we rarely hear about those who were killed and injured; the ordinary women, men, girls and boys, who were going about their daily business when their lives ended or were changed forever. We rarely hear about their surviving families, friends and communities, who must learn to live with the burden of terrorism for their entire lives.
Today, the International day of Remembrance of, and Tribute to, the victims of terrorism, reminds us to stop and listen to the victims and survivors of terrorism, to raise up their voices and recognize the impact terrorism has on their lives.
We can all learn from their experiences. Communities around the world are demonstrating their resilience in response to terrorist attacks. They are countering terrorism and violent extremism in their everyday lives, in their schools, markets and places of worship.
Supporting victims and their families is a moral imperative, based on promoting, protecting and respecting their human rights. Caring for victims and survivors and amplifying their voices helps to challenge the narrative of hatred and division that terrorism aims to spread. We need to provide victims with long-term assistance, including financial, legal, medical and psychosocial support. When we lift up the victims and survivors of terrorism, listen to their voices, respect their rights and provide them with support and justice, we are honouring our common bonds, and reducing the lasting damage done by terrorists to individuals, families and communities.
I thank those who are willing to speak out against terrorism every day. Your voices matter, and your courage in the face of adversity is a lesson to us all.
Today and every day, the United Nations stands in solidarity with you.