While more countries are affected by terrorism today, the number of victims has largely been concentrated in a small number of Member States.
Victims of terrorism continue to struggle to have their voices heard, have their needs supported and their rights upheld. Victims often feel forgotten and neglected once the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack fades, which can have profound consequences for them. Few Members States have the resources or the capacity to fulfill the medium and long-term needs required for victims to fully recover, rehabilitate and integrate back into society. Victims can only recover and cope with their trauma through long-term multi-dimensional support, including physical, psychological, social and financial, in order to heal and live with dignity.
The primary responsibility to support victims of terrorism and uphold their rights rests with Member States. The United Nations has an important role in supporting Member States to implement Pillar I and IV of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy through standing in solidarity and providing support to victims, capacity building assistance, establishing networks of, and offering support to, civil society organizations, particularly victims of terrorism associations, and encouraging Member States to promote, protect and respect the rights of victims. The United Nations has been working to provide resources, mobilize the international community and better address the needs of victims of terrorism.
The last three outcome resolutions of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy review (A/RES/66/282, A/RES/68/276 and A/RES/72/284) have all emphasized the important role of victims in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism as well as recognizing and upholding their human rights.
The sixth review resolution (A/RES/72/284), particularly notes that building resilience of victims and their families, through the provision of proper support and assistance immediately after an attack and in the longer-term is a major step forward in recognizing that victims who are resilient are less vulnerable to the impacts of terrorism and are able to cope, heal and recover more rapidly after an attack.
The draft resolution on the Enhancement of International Cooperation to Assist Victims of Terrorism (A/73/l.88) specifically recognizes the resilience of victims as important for the social cohesion of society and as vital partners to prevent violent extremism conducive to terrorism.
This year, the second commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to Victims of Terrorism (A/RES/72/165) will focus on the resilience of victims and their families- how they have coped and what they have done to transform their experiences to aid healing and recovery as well as become stronger and more united against terrorism. To observe the International Day, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism will launch a photographic exhibition on August 21 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The exhibition, opened by H.E. Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, will feature victims’ statements and stories demonstrating their individual journey and experience of resilience.