Event information

13 March 2024, 18:00-19:30
Register start 4 March 2024
Register end 13 March 2024


Flyer >

From Rhetoric to Action: Putting Human Rights at the Centre of the Fight against Terrorism


Prison's fence Prison's fence

The new United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Ben Saul, commenced in November 2023. On 11 March 2024, he will present his first report to the 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council, outlining his vision and priorities for the next three years.

The Special Rapporteur’s report highlights how many of the human rights violations identified by his predecessors over two decades have not only not been remedied but have worsened. Excessive counter-terrorism laws and practices persist worldwide, including vague definitions and criminal offences of terrorism and violent extremism; arbitrary detention and unfair trial; extra-judicial killings; abuse of counter-terrorism financing laws; frequent resort to unlawful military violence. Meanwhile, there continues to be a general failure to address the conditions conducive to terrorism.
Accordingly, the Special Rapporteur will continue the vital work of his predecessor on topics including the misuse of counter-terrorism law against civil society, arbitrary detention and repatriation of detainees from North-East Syria, indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay, victims of terrorism, and the respect for human rights by the UN itself. Additionally, new themes for future reports include assessing the human rights compliance in counter-terrorism by regional organizations, non-state actors, and international civil aviation and maritime bodies; in the use of national administrative measures; and in redressing past violations through accountability and reparation.

Today, and more than ever, it is crucial to halt the relentless and expanding rights violations in the name of countering terrorism and to question the assumption that more law equals less terrorism. His report is a call for States to redouble their efforts and that they move from rhetoric to action in putting human rights at the centre of counter-terrorism.

This side event on the margins of the 55th Session of the UN Human Rights Council offers a unique opportunity for all stakeholders to discuss the Special Rapporteur's vision of the mandate, identify existing gaps and emerging challenges in counter-terrorism and explore new avenues of collaboration.


  • Cyprien Fluzin, PhD Researcher in international law, Geneva Graduate Institute and Researcher, Bulan Institute for Peace Innovations
  • Erica Harper, Head of Research and Policy Studies, Geneva Academy


  • Ben Saul, UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights



This event may be filmed, recorded and/or photographed on behalf of the Geneva Academy. The Geneva Academy may use these recordings and photographs for internal and external communications for information, teaching and research purposes, and/or promotion and illustration through its various media channels (website, social media, newsletters, annual report, etc.).

By participating in this event, you are agreeing to the possibility of appearing in the aforementioned films, recordings and photographs, and their subsequent use by the Geneva Academy.


A Map of the region News

Our Experts and Resources on Israel/Palestine

1 March 2024

Discover our resources and what our experts and alumni say about the current situation in Israel and Palestine, with regular updates to include new events, articles, podcasts and comments.

Read more

neurotechnology graphics News

New Research Brief Discusses Current Legal and Ethical Concerns Around Neurotechnology

28 May 2024

Our latest Research Brief Between Science-Fact and Science-Fiction: Innovation and Ethics in Neurotechnology highlights the need for a robust regulatory framework around neurotechnology that can simultaneously foster innovation and protect human rights.

Read more

Garment workersto receive food from their factory during lunch time. This food is freely provided by their factory in order to ensure that workers eat healthy and hygienic food. Training

Business and Human Rights

2-6 September 2024

This training course will examine how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights have been utilized to advance the concept of business respect for human rights throughout the UN system, the impact of the Guiding Principles on other international organizations, as well as the impact of standards and guidance developed by these different bodies.

Read more

Open dump Training

Protecting Human Rights and the Environment

2-20 September 2024

Participants in this training course, made of two modules, will examine the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights and the environment, familiarizing themselves with the respective implementation and enforcement mechanisms.

Read more

A session of the UN Human Rights Council Project

IHL Expert Pool

Started in January 2022

The IHL-EP works to strengthen the capacity of human rights mechanisms to incorporate IHL into their work in an efficacious and comprehensive manner. By so doing, it aims to address the normative and practical challenges that human rights bodies encounter when dealing with cases in which IHL applies.

Read more

A destroyed camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Khor Abeche, South Darfur, Project

Understanding the Relationship between Conflict, Security and the Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment

Started in May 2023

This project will develop guidance to inform security, human rights and environmental debates on the linkages between environmental rights and conflict, and how their better management can serve as a tool in conflict prevention, resilience and early warning.

Read more

Cover of the 2023 Geneva Academy Annual Report Publication

Annual Report 2023

published on July 2024

Read more

Cover Page of Research Brief Publication

Between Science-Fact and Science-Fiction Innovation and Ethics in Neurotechnology

published on May 2024

Milena Costas, Timo Istace

Read more