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This article is written by Debolina Ghosh. She is an independent Law practitioner and has done LLM in International Human Rights Law from Queen Mary University of London.


This paper considers to which extent global terrorism continues to become the major challenge in implementing and protecting human rights in internationally. Every corner of the globe has virtually experienced the human cost of terrorism. Terrorism is used as a tool of terror against state and is a systematic tool of violence, it is viewed as terror and intimidation to gain social power and initiate change to achieve specific objective. Terrorism has a very direct and real impact on human rights globally, and also has disastrous consequences. Protection and security of every individual is the basic human right, States have obligations to protect its individuals against the threat of terrorism and ensure human rights of their nationals. It is an urgent necessity to agree on a restrained definition of terrorism.

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Understanding Terrorism and Human Rights 

Human Rights

The complete range of human rights involves protection and respect for cultural, civil, economic, social and political rights and the right to development. Human rights are universal—in other words, they belong inherently to all human beings—and are interdependent and indivisible. International Human Rights Law has been formed to protect and secure the human rights universally. In various customary law and international human rights treaties, we can find the reflection of International Human Rights. There is a growing body of various regional agreements on the protection of fundamental freedoms and protection of human rights and which also focuses on subject-specific protocols and treaties. International human Rights includes freedoms and rights those have become the part of the customary international law, which understands that all the states bind together under the International Human rights law including those which are not a party. Countries need to adopt proper measures to fulfil human rights requirements under legal obligations which include judicial, legislative, social, cultural, religious, administrative protection and security. However, members of Unite Nations should take action to achieve the purpose set out in Article 55 of the Charter, including universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction to race, sex, language or religion.


From the time history have been written down, terrorism is the evilest form of human conduct. Terrorism is an abstract idea, which is morally oppressed, politically vexed and is now appeared as an inevitable and remorseful issue in the legal world both in the domestic scenario and international. Terrorism prospers in the surroundings where poverty, humiliation, oppression, violation of human rights, various forms of abuses etc, we also find the example of terrorism during regional conflicts when weak States are exploited to gain many profits to maintain the economically stronger States. It is not an easy task to define Terrorism with a global perspective, although following are some definitions used in different organisations and countries. The CIA current working definition is: “The term ‘terrorism’ means premeditated, political motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents”. The FBI defines terrorism as, “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives” the Terrorism Act, 2000 of UK defines as,

“The use or threat of action designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation or to intimidate the public, or a section of the public; made for the purposes of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause; and it involves or causes: serious violence against a person; serious damage to a property; a threat to a person’s life; a serious risk to the health and safety of the public; or serious interference with or disruption to an electronic system.”

The Global Terrorism Database uses: “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation”.

The two new severe terrorist serious ultimatums are: ISIS and Al-Qaida, armed non- state network operating globally is the first example and not probably to be the last, and the attacks on 10 or more U.N. member States. The incapability of the U.N. member States to be united to define terrorism and to consent an anti-terrorism convention has brought a major obligation to establish a global strategy for the U.N. and it interrupts the U.N. from exercising its power to send indisputable message that any form of terrorism is not at all a justifiable strategy in any kind of defensive situation. The two primary constraints in establishing a definition are: a) it is argued that the definition should add the need of using armed forces in opposition to civilians by the State;

b) another obligation is that the definition should not disallow the right to a resistance of the people who are under foreign occupation. Here the crucial point remains that there cannot be any justification in aiming to kill civilians. Regardless of the above points, it is important to speedily negotiate comprehensive convention to attain an agreed definition of terrorism, and to give it a legitimate standard term by the General Assembly of the U.N. In order to determine what represents terrorism, a fair definition is much needed, so that measures can be taken to prevent attacks in the future and can also make sure that any authority does not misuse their powers to abuse innocent humans.

Kinds of terrorism

  • Terrorism of single issue: some terrorism focuses on unique agenda problems like deforestations, abortion etc. 
  • Religious terrorism: the radical spiritual groups and the orthodox fundamentalist adopt terrorism as a tool to implement their belief.
  • Political extremist terrorism: when fear and terror is used as an instrument by the left-wing, right-wing or revolutionary terrorism to terrorise citizens associated with the leading political party.
  • Separatist terrorism: when a State forms a legitimate political group or party having separatist objectives, like to establish another independent State with extreme political prospect, e.g. ETA, IRA etc. then an aligned terrorist body can be denied.
  • Pathological terrorism: this leads to the execution of the real terror which is disastrous mission e.g. suicide bomber, trainers, planners etc.

Precisely, the goal of terrorism is always about creating terror to achieve economic, religious, ideological or political motives, but explicitly focuses on brutalisation, mass destruction and to globalise terrorism, which is a significant threat to the human race.

Impacts of terrorism upon Human Rights globally 

Global Terrorism Index 2017: Measuring the impact of Terrorism 





















































































































































From this data above, it is clearly witnessed that the terrorist activities have increased internationally in recent years. These terrorist acts are executed by various terrorist groups who operate in systematically organised manner globally. The rising numbers of attacks have affected the general human rights of the people living in those particular regions, and the terror of the attacks has begun to change everyone globally.

This section of the essay will present the impacts of terrorism on human rights in those regions where the terrorist groups commit atrocities with the full enormity and its implication on the world, explicitly taking examples of two main terrorist groups namely ISIS and Boko Haram. 

Backgrounds of ISIS and Boko Haram


ISIS also known as Deash, is the most commonly known name in the terrorism, chiefly active in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Tunisia, Afghanistan and Egypt. ISIS forcefully imposes its violent ideology based on religion upon the regions within its control, disallows religious diversity with violence and terror, it targets anyone who defies its thinking. ISIS is the most influential body amongst the terrorist groups and has allegiance from so many other regional and international terrorist groups; it primarily operated in the Middle East and had conducted attacks globally like France, Belgium, Germany, USA etc.

Boko Haram

Boko Haram the group Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad, also popularly known as Boko Haram, is another big extremist group In Nigeria, which came up in 2003 as a Salafi-jihadi Muslim group. The base of this group is in north-eastern Nigeria but its crimes extend significantly and are prevalent widely in various regions, e.g. it is active in Chad, Niger and Cameroon. The places where Boko Haram has regulated attacks on civilians and claimed its responsibility for the attacks as reported are Yobe, Bauchi, Borno, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano States, Abuja, Gombe, Plateau State, Adamawa, Kogi States, Niger and as far as Lagos.

Boko Haram does not attack randomly, its targets are directed towards politicians, Christians, and those who are the non-believer of their ideologies.Their ideology is based on their name, the standard translation in indigenous lingua franca ‘Hausa’ which means “western education is forbidden”. Boko haram guaranteed loyalty to ISIS in 2015 and in the same year, it was declared as the most dangerous extremist organisation globally. The most prominent recorded deaths by terrorist attacks which increased by over 300 percent to 7512 lives lost, and in March 2015, it pledged its allegiance to ISIL as ISWAP (Islamic State’s West Africa Province).
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Effect of terrorism on Human Rights

Right to life

The Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) protects the Right to life under International Law, which obligates not just States but also every person in the world, so ISIS or Boko Haram are bound to comply with it.


The killing on the general civilians and also on protected groups like Christians and other ethnic minorities that have been executed by ISIS around the globe, these mass murders amounted to a breach of every victim’s right to life as protected and guaranteed under International Law. Christianity was recognised as the enemy by the ideology of ISIS and was decided to be destroyed in Syria and Iraq, which resulted in fall of the Christians in Syria from over 2 million in 2011 to lesser than 1 million in 2015 and in Iraq it fell from 1.4 million in 2003 to 260,000 in 2015.

The reports say ISIS has governed 143 attacks resulting in 2043 deaths in almost 29 countries, including the major attacks of France, Belgium, Germany, USA and Egypt, the correct number of atrocities committed by ISIS is not known, and the number of deaths mentioned here does not comprise the atrocities in Iraq and Syria. In Iraq alone, at least 18,802 civilian killings were reported, in less than two years span, many reports can be found online. ISIS forces women from religious minorities for sex slavery, for injectable and oral contraception, for abortions, which brings dangerous health issues and also damages mental balance and well being of enslave women and negatively affect the fertility and childbearing capacity in the future.

Boko Haram 

There is so many evidences that show Boko Haram has perpetrated and committed mass murder in different parts of Nigeria and continues doing so to form an Islamic state, as part of its campaign. Between 2006- 2014, nearly 44,000 lives were lost due to non- natural causes, and more than 26,000 people were perished due to religious violence in Northern Nigeria, 9000-11,500 Christians were killed, 1.3 million have been displaced or forced to relocate. Boko Haram conducted 65 attacks or more resulting in around 3,500 in 2015, including civilian killing, abduction of farmers, policemen, women and school girls etc. The magnitude of atrocities committed by Boko Haram and its widespread, systematic killing with the aim of banishing Christians to form an Islamic State amounts to extreme Crime against Humanity which takes away the right to life of the victims.

The Right to Liberty and Security of Person

The Article 9 of ICCPR states:

  1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of a person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.
  2. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.
  3. Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should occasion arise, for execution of the judgment.
  4. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.
  5. Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.

Breach of the Right by ISIS

There are no approximate stats about how many individuals have been deprived of their right to liberty and security by ISIS, but it has regulated a number of detention of individuals in the name of interrogation and deprived them of their liberty and castigated psychological and physical suffering like starvation, rape, dehydration, rape etc, relatives of these individuals plead help to trace them. ISIS impose various breach of the right to liberty and security, e.g. arbitrary detention, imposing severe conditions that impact the well being of individuals, not allowing individuals to live in cities, Christians who fled ISIS regions or live in ISIS caliphate have to seek refuge involuntarily in the neighbouring countries in search of humanitarian essential aids like water, food, shelter, sanitation etc. These non-humanitarian conditions inflicted on Christian minorities in almost all the parts of Syria and Iraq by ISIS has brought massive physical damage and displacement to the victims and is irreplaceable.

Breach of the Right by Boko Haram

We can find in countless reports, and it is well documented that Boko Haram practices imprisonment and inflicts physical and mental sufferings upon individuals who are kidnapped or enslaved by them. It is known in general that people under its control are severely tortured. More than 1,123 people were abducted in 2014 by Boko Haram 536 females inclusive, 500-1000 reported abductions in the Gwoza locality in between 2014 November and February 2015. A rough estimate of at least 2000 people being abducted for arbitrary detention and deprivation by Boko Haram is documented; many are women and juvenile boys and girls, who suffer torture and other cruel and inhumane treatment.

Other sources report that the number is a lot more than 2000, hundreds of school going girls were kidnapped from Chibok by Boko Haram, many of them cannot be traced, further abductions continue on the regions under Boko Haram. The women and girls who are abducted are raped, sexually abused, forced labour, forced conversion, forced into marriage; it also abducts school children from villages, many children are aimed for being Christians or for going to schools. Boko Haram commits extreme sexual exploitation of abducted women and girls, has committed so many gender-based crimes and the victims of these crimes are thousands in number. Boko Haram uses rape and sexual violence as a tool of terror to punish and possess women or girls, they conduct large-scale attacks on females systematically, girls and women are often given to the members of Boko Haram as an object of remittance.

The Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief 

The Article 18 of ICCPR states: 

  1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
  2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
  3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
  4. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.


ISIS disallows the practice of faith to the religious minorities, and they categorically aim Christianity and other minorities from different religions, it has explicitly intended to demolish Christianity from their regions and also around the world. We can find on the internet that the issues of Dabiq published by ISIS, e.g. ‘break the cross’ or black flag over the Vatican and the failed crusade, represent their clear intention to ruin Christianity. Dabiq states: “this time we will raid you thereafter, you will never raid us. We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses and enslave your women,” this kind of statement hints to the destruction of particular members of the group, which is prohibited under the Article II of the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide.

The paragraph (c) of Article II of the Convention of Genocide prohibits enslaving women, and to bring physical destruction in part or whole and to prevent birth within the group and forcible transfer of children from one group to another is prohibited in paragraphs (d) and (e). This section clarifies the intention of ISIS being the destruction of a particular religion and tradition (Christianity) and also states their motive of cultural genocide. And this section also analyses their purpose of cultural genocide and explains that ISIS not only wants to prohibit the right to freedom of religion or belief but also aims at dismantling the religious group in whole or in part.

Boko Haram

Boko Haram has been warned by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, it targets religious places and people of religious minorities specifically. There is sufficient evidence, which shows that Boko Haram perpetrated crimes upon Christians. This extremist group destroyed over 13,000 churches between 2000 and 2014. In the regions of Northern Nigeria, they commonly target the faith of Christianity. The correct number of killing and persecutions of the people who belong or practice the faith of Christianity are unknown and their crimes are spread extensively. Open Doors estimated that in 2006-2014, around 11,500 Christians were killed due to targeting. This year, burning of 9 Churches and Christian students being attacked has been reported, and the violence continues. Boko Haram conduct attacks on places of worship systematically and are widespread. These attacks and its continuation have resulted in handful places to worship for the people in the region. Boko Haram’s terror and the threat have barred the Christians of the area from celebrating their ceremonies or practising their faith.

Effects on general Human Rights

We can see from the above paragraphs that ISIS and Boko Haram have a powerful impact on human rights of the people in their regions. Here it is discussed how the two terrorism organisations affect the practice of general human rights by the victims and people living in these regions and also worldwide.


We observe from above-discussed atrocities perpetrated by ISIS have dangerously impacted upon the people from religious minorities and living in those regions. Taking into consideration the significant fall of Christians in Iraq from 1.4million in 2003 to 260,000 in 2015 and more than 2 million in 2011 to near a million in 2015 in Syria, gives clarity of ISIS intention to destroy Christianity. The atrocities of ISIS does not restrict only to its regions, ISIS a have conducted random attacks worldwide which has impacted on the fundamental human rights of everyone globally. For example, state emergency (which means restricting individual freedoms and rights of ordinary people to counter the threat) was launched by France during the attacks in November 2015, which permitted police officials to raid over 3000 homes. School kids were given classes on life-saving skills, young kids even of age 3 were taught to practice keeping silent so that the chances of survival increases during the attacks.These situations restrict common people to enjoy their general Human rights. ISIS target to create terror globally and have somehow succeeded to an extent; numbers of countries have launched uncommon measures because of them to keep a check on terrorism activities like the example of France mentioned above, which limits freedom of people. 

Boko Haram

We observe from the earlier discussion above that the atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram have brought dangerous outcomes on the people residing under their regions, it is one of the most significant humanitarian catastrophes which has not only affected Nigeria but Chad, Cameroon and many other places of Africa. The school going children have been affected dramatically by the attacks, numbers of schools have been closed down or destructed, and the students are discouraged to attend school because the attacks are ongoing.

The UNICEF reports over 1800 schools were destroyed and shut down in North-east Nigeria and Cameroon, not only that, it indicates that over 60 percent of increase have been found for numbers of children being displaced, from 800,000 to 1.3 million just in a year, which is Africa’s fast-rising displacement crises. The displacement and lack of primary education will bring a huge impact on the economy of the regions and its development. Boko Haram also has a specific strategy of attacking girls and women, and the atrocities committed by them on the girls and women are traumatic, they have to go through devastating psychological and physical anguish. Those who would have even survived the torture of Boko Haram and have been released, go through many struggles to adjust to the society due to the taints they have suffered. 

Thus, it explains that atrocities by any group bring vast negative impact on the normal functioning of the societies and contributes to instability of basic human rights in the region for a long period. 

Protection of Human Rights while countering terrorism

There is undoubtedly a strong and transparent connection between human rights violations and terrorism; it is not a new challenge to protect fundamental freedoms and human rights while countering extremist groups and terrorism. We have observed in the atrocities of ISIS and Boko Haram earlier in this essay that the terrorist group focuses on destroying human rights, creating terror in the people and induce conditions to devastate the regular social order of the region.

The UN General Assembly and Security Council have played a significant role and covered a wide range in the field of anti-terrorist measures. And have adopted a number of global protocols and conventions relating to the responsibilities of States combating terrorism. 

The UN Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (1993) declare: “The acts, methods and practices of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as well as linkage in some countries to drug trafficking are activities aimed at the destruction of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy, threatening territorial integrity, security of States and destabilizing legitimately constituted Governments. The international community should take the necessary steps to enhance cooperation to prevent and combat terrorism.”

There are three fundamental features relating to human rights in the situation of counter-terrorism and human rights law:

  1. The outlook of the victims of terrorist attacks: It is essential to protect the right to life and their dignity, to prevent them from screamers and additional media queries, which would psychologically disturb them. To provide them with correct assistance, justice, and compensations. And these acts should be an urgent duty of the international bodies of human rights and the states. 
  2.  The outlook towards the suspects of terrorism and the perpetrators of terrorism: There is a thin line between a suspect and an actual perpetrator, but in both the cases it is vital to monitor sensibly and proceed further. It is important to keep a check on their right to life, look into the reasons of their innocence, freedom from being tortured or being treated inhumane, given them free trial by impartial tribunals, the right to asylum and not being discriminated etc.
  3.  Outlook towards the people who faced terrorism: It is not debatable that the victims of terrorism remain under threat, terror and agony and in such cases the people who have faced terrorism must be given full protection especially with the right to security, freedom of thoughts, right to information, right to life, right to religion, freedom of expression etc. 


Keeping the above mentioned three fundamental features of human rights while countering terrorism in our minds and considering ISIS and Boko Haram as examples, we will look into the challenges experienced while of protecting the Human rights.


There are many issues when it comes to counter terrorism with ISIS but amongst all, the two most important challenges are: firstly, ISIS has become the biggest international terrorism body and it is a non- State actor, which is the severe threat to the security of human rights all over the globe in the present scenario; secondly, the biggest challenge that international law faces is with the base location, the regions like Syria and Iraq have been experiencing civil wars and political disturbances for number of years and is almost in edge of falling down. It is very unfortunate that the International bodies have failed to respond adequately and act on time to the incidents and even the combined attempts of multiple nations to address the situation created by ISIS has not been effective.

Boko Haram

The two most important challenges in countering terrorism against Boko Haram for a number of years since past have been: corruption and failure of the judicial system. The reports from the UN Department of State shows that the judiciary at the local levels and also the state is highly influenced by politicians, corruption in the judiciary, underfunding, understaffing etc prevent the fair and adequate function of the legal system in the region. Corruption has been a major issue in Nigeria for many years; the Independent Corrupt Practices Commision (ICPC) was formed to fight corruption. In October 2016, 82 prosecutions and 1311 open investigations began by the ICPC, it also secured 8 conviction in a month in 2015. In 2015 May, 579 soldiers and officers had to face court-martial, due to having military corruption and incompetence to prosecute Boko Haram. The report also reveals that extrajudicial murders were committed by the Nigerian Army in their actions against Boko Haram, which naturally fails to address the problem of terrorism; the report also shows that there is a general perception of the judges being bribed in spite of several measures taken to fight corruption.

Multiple steps have been taken by the Nigerian Government to address the root cause of worsening situation of Nigeria, however, the response to addressing the issue of Boko Haram has been marked insufficient, ineffective and ruined by the extreme level of corruption within the administrative, judicial and security sectors. The report shows that due to stigma related to rape, the victims do not report the crime and are under-reported mostly. The distrust of people in administrative, judiciary and security bodies combined with the sufferings from Boko Haram has contributed to the belief that the perpetrator will never be convicted of the crimes. 

Anti-terrorism pratices and stratergies


Numerous military and humanitarian steps have been taken against ISIS and for the victims of ISIS, but no proper legal steps have been effectively been taken against the perpetrators or to bring justice to the victims. The most applicable actions to prosecute the perpetrators should be taken by the International Criminal Court or the UN Security Council along with the participation of regional courts.

Ad Hoc Tribunals

The UN Security Council should take an approach to establish a commission of genocide experts, who can collect evidence and information of Genocide taking place in the Middle East and provide a detailed report and if this report affirms that the genocide is taking place in the region the UN Security Council can probably establish the ad hoc criminal tribunal. This approach was followed by the UN Security Council while responding to the issue in Bosnia and Rwanda. The benefits of this approach would be that the UN Security Council can direct the requirements of a particular case by defining the specified responsibilities and roles to the experts of the commission, and bring flexibility to the ad hoc tribunal proceedings. Together the ad hoc tribunal and this commission can be formed to address the particular targeted task, which would give focus on definite issues and be absolutely efficient. It would be a sensible and flexible way to address international terrorism of cross- border and non-state actors.

International Criminal Court 

A resolution can be passed by the UN Security Council introducing the condition in the Middle East to the International Criminal Courts. In 2014 this attempt was made, several sources point that the results would have been different if this resolution would have been passed then. In 2014, the draft resolution mentioned Syria to the International Criminal Court, which focused on the crimes conducted in the Civil war in Syria and the Assad rule, and because of this, the resolution did not succeed as China and Russia thought that the issue does not need external involvement and can be resolved internally. The condition in Iraq and Syria changed drastically after the draft resolution and ISIS has risen as a large terrorist organisation and has set its stated caliphate in several regions of the Middle East.

The mass killings and the death toll has gone tremendously high, a number of military interventions have been begun by the countries like the USA, the UK, Russia etc. Considering the recent reality Iraq and Syria, the UN Security Council should refer the situations of Iraq and Syria to the ICC, as in 2015 the situation of Darfur and situation of Libya in 2011 was successfully referred to the International Criminal Court by the UN Security Council. As per Rome Statute, the ICC Prosecutor can commence investigations, so it can initiate a preliminary investigation on genocide activities by ISIS in the Middle East. The ICC Prosecutor made statement on ISIS crime and confirmed that OTP had observed “communications received alleging crimes by ISIS”, though the ICC Prosecutor deduced that “the jurisdictional basis for opening a preliminary examination into this situation is too narrow at this stage”.A re-evaluation of the matter can be done by the ICC Prosecutor, considering any new and further crime information in the Middle East.

Special Tribunal for Terrorism 

ISIS is functioning without any hindrance in spite of the existence of International legal bodies like ICC and The UN Security Council, the law of Genocide does not fight against terrorism of non-State actors, which focus to frame a new kind of international mechanism. The International Criminal Tribunal can be an apt solution to the global terrorism; it can be formed as an auxiliary body to the UN Security Council and have a directive to answer the crimes of terrorist bodies, with a limit to its jurisdiction and should not be set by any treaty like the ICC. The Statue of the International Terrorism Tribunal should define the crimes and terrorist activities falling under its jurisdiction, this kind of tribunal can respond to jurisdictional insufficiencies which allow the bodies like ISIS to escape its accountability for crime against humanity, the war crimes, genocides etc.

Regional tribunals

A regional prosecution model based on the piracy prosecution model would be a good approach to the crimes committed by ISIS. The basis of a piracy prosecution model ensures acceptance of international human rights norms and the protection of the suspect and the convict both. In 2009, an international effort was made to take action against maritime crime in the Indian Ocean, the UNODC formed Maritime Crime Programme (MCP) authorised by the UN Security Council, which was the piracy prosecution model. This model allows the States to prosecute piracy with relevant legislation domestically, the State that would be prosecuting need to determine the transfer of agreements with the naval forces. With the conformity of such transfer of agreements, the suspects of piracy can be arrested by the naval forces securing the evidence and then can be submitted to any prosecuting States for further prosecution. 

If the case is accepted by the prosecuting State, the suspects are transferred to the jurisdiction of the Prosecuting State and then the investigation and prosecution of the case are able to be done domestically, the prosecuting State is supported by the MCP throughout. This model gives flexibility to any State and brings alignment with domestic law to prosecute and investigate the suspects of ISIS or anybody having involvement with ISIS. The benefit of this piracy prosecution model is that it allows the court to prosecute not only the leaders but also the ISIS fighters unlike the ad hoc tribunal or ICC. But the success of this model solely depends on the Prosecuting State’s will to accept the case and its domestic laws. It is also very important to notice that while handling these cases the legislation of the Prosecuting State must be well framed, the domestic law and the prosecutor must be properly qualified to investigate the case, have necessary resources and must be of international standard. 

The prosecuting State must be sufficient in procedural laws to address extraterritorial investigations and it is also essential to have agreements between States relations for mutual legal assistance. The several States have conveyed their desire to bring justice to the ISIS fighters and number of States has ratified Rome Statute and has the law to criminalize Genocide. Under the principle of universal jurisdiction, all the States have a duty and right to investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. 

The countries which have set up such prosecutions and investigations are Canada, France, Germany, the UK, Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Senegal and the US for the crimes conducted in Iraq, Uganda, Mauritania, Rwanda, Chad, DRC, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Chechnya, Argentina and the Yugoslavia. Many states like Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, the US, Croatia and South Africa have full-fledged SWCU (specialized war crime units), and strong domestic structure to address prosecutions and investigations of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. All these approaches are required to be applied in the situations where it is required by the States and monitored by the UN, the participation of every State globally is a crucial aspect to combat terrorism of ISIS.

For Boko Haram

Prosecuting terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria has lesser challenges as compared to ISIS. The ICC has its jurisdiction to investigate crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and crimes of aggression in Nigeria because Nigeria is a signatory body of the Rome Statute. The UN can assist the OTP (Officer of the Prosecutor) and to Nigeria various steps to respond to terrorism and can ensure human rights for the people in the region. The present Government has introduced many measures to take actions against corruption and Boko Haram. Evidence shows that the changes are taking place, these changes cannot happen overnight. It is going to take time and will also be messy. The current judicial system as discussed earlier is failing to bring justice to the victims, which says it is crucial to have the support of the UN and the ICC to handle the situation. It is important that the UN makes it certain to hand all empirical pieces of information about the crimes conducted by Boko Haram to the OTP; this will support the OTP to initiate investigations and preliminary examinations. 

Common measures

Further steps other than the measures mentioned above that can be taken by the UN to secure prosecutions and investigations of the crimes committed by both terrorist organisations are as follows: 

  1. Strengthen the resolutions against terrorism and also against the immunity of the perpetrators.
  2. Direct the domestic insecurity subject specifically in the regions and form broader understanding to approach the present challenges. 
  3. Strengthen the measures of securing human rights via pragmatic and legal approach.
  4. Safeguarding human rights for all appropriately during the time of terrorism attacks and post.
  5. Developing adequate security systems in affected countries.
  6. Strengthening the right to have the freedom of belief and religion an important agenda in International legislation.
  7. Any form of extremism must be opposed and not taken lightly.
  8. Taking concrete measures to secure vulnerable groups like women and girls, children, religious minorities, indigenous groups etc.


As mentioned at the beginning of the essay, this paper examines the global extent of terrorism becoming an important issue to protect human rights. This paper has taken two of the most significant terrorist organisations i.e., ISIS and Boko Haram as the base to examine the impacts and challenges of terrorism on Human rights. While writing this essay, I have come to an understanding that Terrorism is a vast subject and contain numbers of major and minor issues when we try to combat it.

The fundamental dilemma while examining the causes to uphold human rights in global terrorism era is the correct balance between protecting human right and taking actions against the perpetrators. To effectively bring in the balance between both, focused attention is required while making anti-terrorism efforts; there should be an agreement to respect the fundamental freedom and securing human rights, e.g. prohibiting torture, the presumption of innocence. As discussed earlier in this essay, we have found that International bodies have not succeeded aptly to address the problem of terrorism in the regions of ISIS and Boko Haram, and also found that the States have failed to take actions against terrorism under the domestic law due political and corruption issues. The attacks of ISIS and Boko Haram has risen dramatically due to the failure in balancing the protection of human rights and actions against terrorism, the threat of increasing terrorism issues have challenged the Governments to protect its people from terrorist atrocities. The most common challenge for the States is the question of priority, which comes first: protecting human rights or combating terrorism. 

According to the Berlin Declaration which somehow justifies the situation of balancing protection of human rights and combating terrorism by the states, follow these principles: 1) Duty to Protect 2) Independent Judiciary 3) Principle of Criminal Law 4) Derogations 5) Peremptory Norms 6) Deprivation of Liberty 7) Fair trial 8) Fundamental Rights and Freedoms 9) Remedy and Reparation 10) Non-refoulement 11) Complementarity of Humanitarian Law. 

There are research done in the past and will be continued in the future to find an appropriate solution to this complicated situation, this essay is a small study in the field of vast subject of terrorism and human rights, but people have to come together to eliminate the disease called terrorism.



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