Terrorism: the worst enemy of democracy

Venice Commission


The worst enemy of democracy

Terrorism repudiates three fundamental values defended by the Council of Europe: human rights, the rule of law and pluralist democracy. The Organisation has been working in this field since the 1970s, but its efforts were stepped up in 2001 following the unprecedented terrorist attacks in the United States.

As a regional organisation, the Council of Europe is committed to facilitating the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1373(2001), by providing a forum for discussing and adopting regional standards and best practice. It also provides assistance to its member States in improving their counter-terrorism capabilities.

To increase the effectiveness of existing international texts on the fight against terrorism, the Council of Europe has adopted a new Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism which entered into force June 1st 2007. It aims to strengthen the efforts of member states to prevent terrorism and contains a provision on the protection and compensation of victims of terrorism.

The Council of Europe's activities in the field of the fight against terrorism are based on three cornerstones:

  • strengthening legal action against terrorism;
  • safeguarding fundamental values;
  • addressing the causes of terrorism.

Towards improved harmonization of the use of special investigation techniques

As part of its action against terrorism, the Council of Europe organises a conference on the use of special investigation techniques on 14 and 15 May in Strasbourg to discuss existing standards and guidelines, and the need to update them.

To protect society from terrorism and organised crime, law-enforcement must apply modern investigation methods including interception of telephone and Internet communication, electronic surveillance, undercover operations and other means known as “special investigation techniques” aimed at gathering information without alerting the suspect.

Such techniques must be regulated to ensure the respect of human rights and the rule of law with regard to suspects, victims and third persons. Obviously, if practice varies widely from country to country, the information gathered will be of limited use in criminal proceedings across jurisdictions.

Organised in cooperation with the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, the OSCE and the League of Arab States, the conference will examine the existing international legal frameworks and identify new developments in this area since the adoption in 2005 of a Council of Europe Recommendation on “special investigation techniques” in relation to serious crimes including acts of terrorism.

The participants will also discuss challenges faced by states when applying such techniques and best practices to overcome them, while fully respecting human rights and the rule of law. (more...)

12 May 2009, Madrid: Prevention of terrorism - consultation of the states

Special meeting of the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee (19-21 April 2011, Strasbourg)

The Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) held a special meeting on the theme of prevention of terrorism from 19 to 21 April 2011 at the Council of Europe’s headquarters in Strasbourg, France. International, regional and subregional organizations was invited to join members of the Security Council and the Council of Europe in discussing preventive policies and measures.

European Court of Human Rights