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2013 | General Assembly Report of the Secretary General - Protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism - A/68/298

This UN General Assembly report documents the activities of multiple United Nations entities that contribute to the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, including the Human Rights Council and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. These two entities are highlighted here because they are the only entities the report specifically mentions in relation to remedies for victims of human rights violations caused by counter terrorism activities.

Addressing the Human Rights Council’s activities, the report outlines that the Council repeatedly calls on states to ensure that, while countering terrorism, victims whose human rights or fundamental freedoms have been violated, have access to an effective remedy and that they must receive adequate, effective and prompt reparations, including by bringing to justice those responsible for such violations. Also the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism –appointed by the Human Rights Council- has focused in one of his reports on accountability of public officials for gross or systematic human rights violations committed while countering terrorism. The work highlights continues to advance the findings of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on steps taken by the United States to implement previous recommendations made, that no significant improvement has been made, notably regarding accountability for potentially unlawful deaths in the U.S. international operations.

Turning to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office, it is documented that the High Commissioner continues to receive signals of grave human rights violations in the context of counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations. Specifically regarding the use of armed drones, the High Commissioner has repeated her concerns over the human rights implications, noting that the lack of transparency regarding such use had also contributed to a lack of clarity on the legal bases for drone strikes, as well as on safeguards to ensure compliance with the applicable international law. Moreover, the report stresses that the absence of transparency had created an accountability vacuum in which victims were unable to seek redress. For that reason, the High Commissioner urged all States to be completely transparent regarding criteria for deploying drone strikes and to ensure that their use complies fully with relevant international law. The report further documents that the High Commissioner has stated that where violations occur, states should conduct independent, impartial, prompt and effective investigations, and provide victims with an effective remedy.