Anti-Terror Instruments – International

Global Offices and Organizations

UN Office of Counter-Terrorism
UN Security Council Counter-Terror Committee
UN Security Council Ombudsperson
UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force
UN Office on Drugs and Crime – Terrorism Prevention Branch
Financial Action Task Force
Global Counterterrorism Forum
Egmont Group

Multilateral Conventions Concerning Terrorism

Terrorism was first placed on the international agenda in 1934, when the League of Nations, the predecessor of the United Nations, began drafting a Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Terrorism. Although the Convention was adopted by the League in 1937, it never came into force.

The 1954 Draft Code of Offences Against Peace and Security, prepared by the International Law Commission, included crimes of terror, though not in name.

Today, there are in force 19 international conventions, protocols, and their amendments.  They were developed under the auspices of the United Nations, its specialized agencies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). [Brief Descriptions are on the UN OTC and ODC Websites]

Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism was presented by India in 1999, during the 55th Session of the UN General Assembly.  Negotiations on a final text have been sporadic. with no final text to be foreseeably adopted.  See, Mahmoud Hmoud, Negotiating the Draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism,  J. of Int’l. Crim. Justice, Vol. 4, No. 5, p. 1031 (2006); Sara De Vido, The future of the draft UN Convention on international terrorism, Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, Vol.3, No.3, p. 233 (2017).

The foregoing multilateral conventions, including the draft Comprehensive Convention, are discussed in Daniel O’Donnell,  International treaties against terrorism and the use of terrorism during armed conflict and by armed forces, Int’l. Rev. of the Red Cross, Vol. 88, No. 864, p. 853 (2006).  The UN Secretary-General issued a report in 2008 on assistance in implementing the conventions and protocols, E/CN.15/2008/5.

UN General Assembly Resolutions [Selected]

  • A/RES/46/51 – Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism – 1991
  • A/RES/49/60 – Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism – 1994
  • A/RES/51/210 – Declaration to Supplement the 1994 Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism – 1996
  • A/RES/55/25 – United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime – 2000
  • A/RES/55/255 – Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime – 2001
  • A/RES/60/288 – The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (SG Report Attached) – 2006
    • A/RES/62/272 – The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review (SG Report Attached) – 2008
    • A/RES/64/297 – The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review (SG Report Attached) – 2010
    • A/RES/66/282 – The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review (SG Report Attached) – 2012
    • A/RES/68/276 – The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review (SG Report Attached) – 2014
    • A/RES/70/291 – The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review (SG Report Attached) – 2016
    • A/RES/72/284 – The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review (SG and HRC Rapporteur Reports Attached) – 2018
  • A/RES/66/10 – Establishment of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre – 2011
  • A/RES/70/254 – Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism – 2016
  • A/RES/71/291 – Establishment of the Office of Counter-Terrorism – 2017
  • A/RES/72/180 – Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism – 2017

UN Security Council Resolutions

In evaluating the UN’s role in the fight against terrorism, Sebastian von Einsiedel, a former Vice-Rector of the United Nations University, has written:

“During the Cold War, the UN Security Council was largely silent on terrorism and much of the UN’s counter-terrorism activity unfolded in the General Assembly. This began to change in the early 1990s against the backdrop of a rise in state-sponsored acts of terrorism. The Security Council imposed sanctions against Libya in 1992 over Tripoli’s noncooperation with the investigation of two airline bombing incidents; against Sudan in 1996 for alleged involvement in an assassination attempt on Egyptian president Mubarak; and against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 1999 for harboring the leadership of Al Qaida. However, during the 1990s, the Council refrained from taking action against a number of other states, such as Iran, whose sponsorship of terrorism was established in a Berlin court in April 1997…”

“… [T]he real game-changer for the organization in this area was 9/11, which highlighted the increasingly transnational nature of the threat, making the UN Security Council a natural venue to lead the international charge against Al Qaida.” 

Sebastian von Einsiedel, Assessing the UN’s Efforts to Counter Terrrorism, United Nations University Centre for Policy Research, Occasional Paper 8, October 2016. Von Eisiedel’s evaluation of the role of the Security Council and General Assembly comes later in his paper. 

For two earlier assessments of the Security Council’s counter-terror measures, both by Andrea Bianchi, see, Assessing the Effectiveness of the UN Security Council’s Anti-terrorism Measures: The Quest for Legitimacy and Cohesion, 17 European Journal of International Law 881 (2006), and Security Council’s Anti-terror Resolutions and their Implementation by Member States: An Overview, 4 J. Int’l Crim. Law 1044 (2006).

The Security Council Report, an independent organization, maintains an extensive list of Security Council resolutions and other documents pertaining to the fight against terrorism, with links to those documents.  Many of the Security Council resolutions concerning the fight against terrorism can be read online at the UN iLibrary, in the compendium, International Instruments Related to the Prevention and Suppression of International Terrorism, Fourth Edition (2019).

Below is a selection of Security Council resolutions that address general matters concerning terrorism.  Those adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter are noted.  As for many resolutions concerning specific situations and sanctions regimes, one source is the compendium at the UN iLibrary.

  • S/RES/1373 (2001) (Ch. VII) – Calls for the prevention of terror financing, directs states to refrain from the support of terrorist entities and persons, and established the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Security Council.
  • S/RES/1535 (2004) – Established the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED).  The CTED’s mandate was renewed to the end of 2021 by Resolution 2395 – S/RES/2395 (2017).
  • S/RES/1540 (2004) (Ch. VII) – Addresses the danger posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by terrorist entities. the Resolution was reaffirmed by Resolution 2325 – S/RES/2325 (2016).
  • S/RES/1624 (2005) (Ch. VII) – Calls on states to prohibit the incitement to acts of terrorism
  • S/RES/2178 (2014) (Ch. VII) – Calls on states to take steps to interdict interstate travel by terrorist actors and to counter violent extremism.
  • S/RES/2309 (2016) – Addresses terrorist threats to the global aviation system.
  • S/RES/2322 (2016) – Addresses the involvement of terror groups in the trafficking and destruction of cultural property.
  • S/RES/2354 (2017) – Citing the Comprehensive International Framework to Counter Terrorist Narratives – S/2017/375 – addresses the need to counter narratives of terrorist entities which encourage, motivate, and recruit persons to commit terrorist acts.
  • S/RES/2370 (2017) – Addresses the need to interdict illicit trafficking in arms, weapons, and military equipment, and the need to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons.
  • S/RES/2396 (2017) (Ch. VII) – Addresses border security, judicial measures, and prosecution and rehabilitation strategies, among other matters.
  • S/RES/2462 (2019) (Ch. VII) – Calls for combating and criminalizing terrorist financing and implementing FATF standards.
  • S/RES/2482 (2019) – Addresses the linkage between international terrorism and organized crime, corruption, human trafficking, illicit trade, and other related illegal activities.

The Security Council Report frequently publishes online materials on the Security Council’s efforts concerning counter-terrorism.

Other Materials