Counter-Terrorism and Situations of Public Emergency (Module 7, UNODC University Module series: Counter-Terrorism)

The series of Modules on Counter-Terrorism Education, developed within the Education for Justice (E4J) initiative, aim to provide a relevant and valuable resource for lecturers teaching courses on counter-terrorism in universities and academic institutions across the world. The Modules seek to enhance students’ understanding of terrorism, its implications and related issues by providing foundational knowledge on relevant international, regional and national instruments and approaches. To increase their effectiveness, the Modules aim to connect theory to practice, encourage critical thinking, and use innovative interactive teaching approaches such as experiential learning, case studies and group-based work. The Modules are multi-disciplinary and can be integrated in a series of courses ranging from law to international relations, sociology, anthropology, criminology and many other disciplines. Whilst the primary focus is on the United Nations instruments, the Modules leave room for diverse perspectives and lecturers can easily adapt them to different local and cultural contexts.

Counter-Terrorism_module_overview_imageModule 7. Counter-Terrorism and Situations of Public Emergency

Most counter-terrorism measures can be adopted and carried out without any interference with or limitations upon human rights. In some circumstances, however, there will be a need to limit the enjoyment of certain human rights for the purpose of protecting the life, physical integrity and fundamental freedoms of others. Indeed, the protection of the right to life and other rights against violence by terrorist groups is in itself a primary obligation on States under international human rights law. The primary objectives of this Module are to examine the circumstances when international law permits the temporary suspension of certain rights in public emergency situations caused by terrorist activities, and the accompanying risks to, as well as legal safeguards to protect, the rule of law in such circumstances.

Learning outcomes

Analyse international and regional legal frameworks governing states of emergency.

Compare and contrast similarities and differences between international and regional approaches.

Introduce students to the concept of derogable and non-derogable rights and the implications thereof.

Understand potential risks to the rule of law as well as accompanying legal safeguards to protect it in emergency situations.

The full module is avaliable at UNODC website

TopicVictims of terrorism, Human Rights , Law enforcement


Themes: Victims of terrorism, Human Rights , Law enforcement