Statewatch article: RefNo# 35618
UN Special Rapporteur raises alarm over effect of counter-terrorism policy on civil society
Statewatch News Online, October 2015
A UN Special Rapporteur on human rights has warned of a global "ideological pandemic" that has seen more than 60 states across the world pass counter-terrorism measures that have been used "to stifle legitimate opposition and to choke public interest and human rights organisations".

In an address the the UN's General Assembly, Ben Emmerson, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, "urged governments across the world to ensure that the NGO sector be allowed to continue to play an indispensable role in co-ordinated efforts to counter the spread of terrorism."

His findings are detailed in a new report examining the impact of counter-terrorism measures on civil society:

  • Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (pdf)

    Addressing the UN General Assembly, Emmerson highlighted that while many states have adopted laws that directly target the NGO sector, other issues are at hand:

    "Many of the international and national measures aimed at countering terrorist financing and the provision of material support have also had a direct and chilling impact on public interest groups, restricting the ability of entirely lawful organisations to secure funding or to operate effectively."

    This is an issue that has been highlighted by Statewatch in two reports on the work of the Financial Action Task Force, or FATF, a global body that attempts to ensure the implementation of counter-terrorism financing and anti-money laundering regulations around the world.


  • Counter-terrorism, policy laundering and the FATF: Legalising surveillance, regulating civil society (February 2012, pdf)
  • Countering terrorism or constraining civil society? The impact of Financial Action Task Force recommendations on non-profit organisations in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (August 2015, pdf)

    Further reading:

  • UN press release: UN expert raises alarm at global trend of restricting civil society space on pretext of national security and counter-terrorism (link)
  • States 'using security as excuse to stifle human rights groups', UN official warns (The Guardian, link)

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