CM(2004)180 13 October 2004
899 Meeting, 13 October 2004
2 Political questions
2.3 Follow-up to the 114th Session of the Committee of Ministers (Strasbourg, 12-13 May 2004) – Contribution of the Council of Europe to international action against terrorism
Responding to the challenge of terrorism
Contribution of the Secretary General to the discussions of the Ministers' Deputies
1. In recent weeks, especially since the atrocities in Beslan, there have been many discussions about how we should step up the CoE's role in response to terrorism. So much has been said, and so many and interesting suggestions have been aired - by delegations in the Committee of Ministers, in the PACE last week, in committees in the intergovernmental sector and by the Secretariat itself – that I make no claim for the originality of the ideas in this paper.
2. Since September 2001, the Council of Europe has completed two pieces of work:
- the protocol amending the 1977 European Convention on Suppression of Terrorism (ETS 190) opened for signature on 15 May 2003. The Protocol enlarges the category of offences which cannot be regarded as “political” for the purposes of refusing extradition, and it singles out a number of human rights related grounds for refusing an extradition request (risk of torture, death penalty or life imprisonment without parole). It also provides for the accession of observer and non-member States. To date the Protocol has been signed by 34 States but ratified only by 6 (list appended). Ratification by all 43 contracting parties to the original Convention (ETS 90) is required for entry into force of the Protocol.
- the Guidelines on human rights and the fight against terrorism adopted by the Committee of Ministers on July 2002.
3. In this paper, I will set out a possible framework to structure our work, outline a medium-term strategy and identify the immediate priorities.
4. i) I think we first need agreement on the structure of our action and of our discussions, to categorise and re-group our (possible) interventions. I see four strands to our potential for effective work (the first three will be recognised as the original “three pillars”, the fourth is new).
i) Measures designed to increase security against the terrorist threat
ii) Measures taken to ensure that our own efforts to combat terrorism, and those of others at both international and national level, remain consistent with our over-arching principles of human rights and the rule of law
iii) Measures to invest in democracy and address the root causes of terrorism
iv) Measures in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.
5. At the risk of repetition, but for the sake of clarity, let me take these strands one by one.
Measures designed to increase security against the terrorist threat
The Committee of Ministers has identified the following:
i. Entry into force of the Protocol amending the European Convention on the suppression of terrorism (ETS 190)
ii. Increased ratification and implementation of existing instruments
iii. Rapid conclusion of work by CODEXTER on:
- prevention of terrorism (including i.a. “apologie du terrorisme”/incitement to terrorism, recruitment of terrorists, abuse of refugee status, liability of legal persons)
- identity documents
And, additionally, CODEXTER should make proposals for future work.
iv. Rapid conclusion by the CDPC on:
- protection of witnesses and pentiti
- special investigation techniques
- terrorist funding
v. Rapid conclusion by the CDCJ on:
- identity document and terrorism
vi. Examination of whether the CoE might elaborate instruments (best practice and common standards) relating to public security, such as public buildings
vii. Consideration of a possible role for citizens, local communities, civil society, the business community in combating terrorism.
6. Additionally, the PACE has suggested, most recently in Recommendation 1677:
i) analysis of existing CoE and international instruments, and their up dating if necessary
ii) extension of the applicability of the European arrest warrant to all CoE member states
iii) a uniform legal definition of the crime of terrorism (cf. possible definition of “crimes against humanity” as raised by the Committee of Ministers)
iv) a computerised European register of national and international standards
v) a study on the acceptable limits of freedom of expression and possible abuse of that freedom by terrorists
vi) consideration by member states of widening the Rome Statute to allow the ICC remit to include acts of international terrorism
vii) a study with the EU of the possibility of transforming Europol into an effective pan-European agency.
Measures to ensure that our own efforts to combat terrorism, and those of others at both international and national level remain consistent with our over-arching principles of human rights and the rule of law
7. Relatively few specific suggestions have been made in this regard, essentially because this dimension is implicit in all CoE work. However, the CM did suggest:
i) that the CoE provide other international organisations with its expertise on human rights, including exchanges at CM level (EU, OSCE, ODIHR, UN…)
ii) possibly, that a Steering Committee should exist, inter alia, to guarantee coherence between CoE instruments and its fundamental values.
8. I also include under this heading, however, that part of the CoE's work the field of inter-cultural, inter-religious dialogue and understanding which helps to counter ethno- and religio- phobic tendencies exacerbated by the threat of insecurity.
Measures to invest in democracy and address the root causes of terrorism
9. Investing in democracy obviously goes right to the heart of the CoE : it is one of its core competencies and as such automatically encompasses our permanent activities, be they undertaken by the PACE, CLRAE, the intergovernmental sector. However, in recent weeks, the following specific suggestions have emerged:
10. From the CM:
i) that educational programmes be further developed to counter any possible justification of terrorism and the recruitment of terrorists
ii) that activities in this area might be incorporated in the 2005 European Year of Citizenship through Education and/or in a new Integrated Project
iii) that aggressive separatism be regarded as a source of terrorism.
11. From the PACE.
i) that member states strongly condemn countries engaging, helping, providing financial support or offering safe haven to terrorists and introduce economic and other appropriate measures against them
ii) that member states promote democracy and human rights in their foreign relations and refrain from complacency towards despotic and obscurantist regimes for reasons of strategic and economic interests.
12. These suggestions are complementary to, and not a substitute for, existing ongoing work by the CoE. But we need to distinguish between those of our activities which aim to invest in democracy generally, and would and should exist without the present terrorist threat, and those which are a specific response to the present context.
Measures in the aftermath of terrorist attack
13. Here the CM has identified:
i) rapid conclusion by the CDDH of the Guidelines on the protection of victims currently under preparation
ii) idem as concerns work currently under way with the CDPC as regards protection of victims of violent crimes
iii) addressing rehabilitation and support to individual victims and communities
iv) rapid conclusion by the CDMM of guidelines on the rights and responsibilities of journalists covering terrorist attacks and other crisis
v) a need to strengthen public rejection and condemnation of terrorism
vi) [examination of the potential of citizen, local community, civil society, and business action following a terrorist act]
It goes without saying that the all organs of CoE will continue to publicly condemn all such attacks.
II. OUTLINE FOR A MEDIUM-TERM STRATEGY
14. It is not coincidence that under the four strands identified above, we find proposals for action cutting across the traditional boundaries of the CoE: PACE, CLRAE, traditional intergovernmental structures and competencies. Clearly there is a need for coherence in our action. Whether this calls for a Terrorism Steering Committee, as has been suggested, I have some doubt. The quality of much of the CoE's work is a function of the expertise to be found in our intergovernmental committees, and such expertise requires specialisation. I tend to think for example that a school education programme aimed against any justification of terrorism is best put together by those who know about school education, rather than about terrorism per se. In the medium term, however, it is vital that better channels of information are established between the various structures, both those internal and external to the CoE, and I think we shall need to invent new mechanisms for this.
15. I also recognise that there needs to be better focus in our action, and a greater capacity to respond to member states” need after a terrorist attack. This implies the acquisition by the Council of a skills and expertise pool which can be deployed as the need arises. This is particularly the case in the area of post-trauma rehabilitation and support. Better focus also, might involve for example, re-targeting our CBM and Youth programmes, and the development of more tailor-made in- and out-of school education programmes.
16. We also need to step up our work in areas where we have less experience. This is perhaps most acutely the case in intercultural dialogue where we need to expand Euro-Arab and Euro-Islamic dialogue and build deeper understanding which will feed into all our activities.
17. The CoE must also remain alert to opportunities for new initiatives, and I suggest that Steering Committees be formally requested to review how they can contribute to combating terrorism, not in terms of pursuing their long term policies which contribute to societies free from the root causes of terrorism, but more specifically what they can deliver in a shorter time-scale.
III. PRIORITIES IN THE IMMEDIATE TERM
18. Without prejudice to what Deputies might decide, my first priority is the completion of the legal and human rights instruments currently being drafted in CODEXTER, the CDPC, CDDH and CDMM, together with ratification of existing instruments. In the context of CODEXTER, I have the distinct impression that the notion of a comprehensive convention is currently a distraction, and I therefore firmly recommend the resumption of discussion of this possibility only once CODEXTER has completed its current work. I also think this work might be hastened by the fixing of firm deadlines, and I could, if this was thought appropriate, propose CM decisions to this effect.
19. My second priority is to take measures to improve coherence. The CM has already taken a number of initiatives with regard to external partners. We need to build and expand on these, but also to improve internal communication and coordination, and I shall be discussing practical steps, including the possible setting-up of a secretariat taskforce, with the Terrorism Coordinator in the weeks to come.
20. I believe that our third priority should be to increase our capacity to offer practical help and support in post-trauma situations. All relevant sectors of the organisation should be asked to address this need urgently, to acquire the skills and knowledge base required and achieve a state of readiness to deploy as soon as possible.
21. Fourthly I propose to ensure that the European Year of Citizenship through Education, now only months away, takes full account of the terrorism dimension. Instructions to the bodies preparing the Year should be given accordingly.
22. Lastly, I recommend that all Council of Europe structures - PACE, Congress, European Court of Human Rights, Partial Agreements, Steering Committees, Human Rights Commissioner be made aware of the terrorism “agenda” fixed by the CM at the outcome of the present discussions. I suggest that this should be done by way of a formal communication from the CM, and that this should be coupled, where appropriate, with a request that practical follow-up is given.