International Symposium on Terrorism and Human Rights

‘Towards A Universal Approach for Protecting Human Rights and Combating Terrorism’

Cairo, 26-28 January 2002

Organized By

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

In Collaboration with

International Euro-Mediterranean

Federation for Human Rights Network for Human Rights

Final Report

The symposium provided an opportunity, the first of its kind, to consider the human rights movement’s responses to the events of September 11. Themes and issues raised by participants and suggestions made were as follows: Causes of Terrorism
    1. Palestinian rights, especially the United States blind support of Israel in the conflict
    2. The support of some corrupt and despotic regimes in the pursuit of self interest, profit and geopolitical power
    3. The undermining of economic, social and political human rights in the South.
Failure of the International Community to respond properly to the consequences of September 11
  1. The international community has, following September 11, failed to ensure that highly questionable actions, both in the domestic and international spheres, by its members against terrorism are consistent with the clearly established principles, rules, procedures of the international law of human rights, laws of armed conflict and refugee law.
  2. Although Security Council resolution 1373 talks of the elimination of terrorism, it is not possible to eliminate terrorism by military means alone either immediately or in the long term
  3. The international community should be more critical of US actions and should not collude in current open ended U.S policies on terrorism
  4. The U.S and its allies marginalisation of the United Nations and failure to respect the principles of international law have demonstrated a failure on their part to respond correctly to the crisis
  5. The international community should come to a common consensus on the definition of terrorism. The absence of definition is being exploited for human rights abuses against dissenting voices
  6. The U.S should define and limit its war on terrorism.
  7. The international community should recognize that security and respect for human rights are directly inter-related and ensure that fundamental human rights are protected, in line with international standards.


    The Dangers that now face us

  8. Failure of the international community to support human rights in a time of crisis entails many dangers. Participants voiced different fears including:
  9. The escalation of human rights abuses in the U.S and Europe and the rest of the world such as arbitrary detention, trial by military tribunals and deportation of suspected terrorist sympathisers. Condemnation was expressed of the already apparent abuses that are taking place under the pretext of anti- terrorism actions, such as, arbitrary detention, unfair trials and the ill treatment of prisoners, in the United States, but also in Africa, Asia and the Middle East as well. Also, the UN Special Rapporteurs voiced their concern regarding violations against "human rights defenders, migrants, asylum seeker and refugees, religious and ethnic minorities, political activists and the media’, was noted.
  10. An escalation of violence between India and Pakistan
  11. A further deterioration of the situation in the Palestinian occupied territories and the unjust de-legitimisation of the Palestinian cause by the US-propagated rhetoric that delegitimise resistance of occupation and self-defense by branding it as a kind of terrorism.
  12. An increase in human rights abuses across the globe under the pretence of fighting terrorism
  13. That the ‘war on terrorism’ will be used as a tool for state control and further violence in conflicts such as Chechnya, Palestine and Turkey
  14. A global increase of state censorship and the continued restrictions on freedom of expression
  15. That in the current campaign against terrorism the disregard for international law and domestic human rights abuses by the United States and its allies will give greater encouragement to other states to do the same.
What should be done?

The following suggestions were made:

Short term