Key International Instruments, Treaties, and Mechanisms with Relevance to Terrorism, Violent Extremism, and Radicalisation

Thanks to our member Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), Sofia, BG.

Here you have a list of International Instruments, treaties and mechanisms to tackle Terrorism caused by Radicalisation and Violent Extremist Behaviours.

Information Brief

Policy Background 

  • Draft Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Terrorism, adopted by the League of Nations in 1937, never came into effect in practice. Full text is available at

Legally Binding Instruments

High-Level Strategic Documents

  • United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy – adopted on 8 September 2006. The Strategy is based on four pillars:
  • Addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism.
  • Measures to:
  • prevent and combat terrorism;
  • build states’ capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the United Nations system in that regard;
  • ensure respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as the fundamental basis for the fight against terrorism.

The Strategy is being reviewed every 2 years.

  • Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism – proposed in a Report of the Secretary General on 24 December 2015. The Plan examines the context and drivers of violent extremism. As regards the conditions and structural context of violent extremism, it highlights the following aspects:
  • Lack of socioeconomic opportunities.
  • Marginalization and discrimination.
  • Poor governance, violations of human rights and the rule of law.
  • Prolonged and unresolved conflicts.
  • Radicalization in prisons.

As regards, the process of radicalisation, the Plan highlights the following aspects:

  • Individual backgrounds and motivations.
  • Collective grievances and victimization.
  • Distortion and misuse of beliefs, political ideologies and ethnic and cultural differences.
  • Leadership and social networks.

  • European Union Counter-Terrorism Strategy – adopted in 2005. The Strategy comprises 4 pillars:
  • Prevent
  • Protect
  • Pursue
  • Respond

  • European Council Framework Decision on Combating Certain Forms and Expressions of Racism and Xenophobia by Means of Criminal Law – adopted on 28 November 2008. The Framework Decision provides for the approximation of laws and regulations of EU countries on offences involving certain manifestations of racism and xenophobia. Certain serious manifestations of racism and xenophobia must constitute an offence in all EU countries and be punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties.

  • European Union Internal Security Strategy – adopted in 2010. The Strategy specifies 5 main objectives among which is to prevent terrorism and address radicalisation and recruitment through:
  • Empowering communities to prevent radicalisation and recruitment: an EU radicalisation-awareness network is to be created, a ministerial conference on the prevention of radicalisation and recruitment is to be organised, and a handbook to support EU countries actions is to be drawn up;
  • Cutting off terrorists’ access to funding and material and following their transactions: a framework for freezing assets and for preventing and combating terrorism is to be established, legislative and non-legislative action is to be taken to implement the action plans on explosives and on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear substances, and policy for the extraction and analysis of financial messaging data in the EU is to be set out;
  • Protecting transport: the EU regime for aviation and maritime security is to be further developed.

  • European Parliament Resolution on the Prevention of Radicalisation and Recruitment of European Citizens by Terrorist Organisations – adopted on 23 November 2015. The Resolution specifically refers to the issue of preventing violent extremism and radicalisation in prisons. In this regard, the Resolution, inter alia:
  • Supports the introduction of specialised training for all prison staff, as well as partners operating in the penal system, religious staff and NGO personnel who interact with prisoners.
  • Encourages the establishment of educational programmes with adequate funding in European prisons in order to promote critical thinking, religious tolerance, and reintegration into society of inmates, but also to offer special assistance to those who are young, vulnerable or more susceptible to radicalisation and recruitment by terrorist organisations.

  • Communication from the Commission on Supporting the Prevention of Radicalisation leading to Violent Extremism – issued on 14 June 2016. Section 3 titled Breaking the cycle: addressing radicalisation in prisons specifically focuses on the challenge of countering radicalisation in prisons.

  • Council of Europe Handbook for Prison and Probation Services Regarding Radicalisation and Violent Extremism – issued on 1 December 2016. The purpose of this Handbook is to provide specific directions and suggested recommendations to achieve good practises in the risk assessment, management and re-integration of radicalised offenders. It provides practical information consistent with the importance of tailored risk assessments and interventions and the use of good prison and probation management principles pertaining to violent extremist offenders.

Therefore, the long-term strategy of both prison and probation services should be the prevention of violent extremist offenders reoffending, the prevention of radicalisation in prison and probation settings and the establishment of a long term preventative strategy within the criminal justice system.

  • Conclusions of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, on the Prevention of Radicalisation leading to Violent Extremism – adopted on 15 December 2016.

International Mechanisms

  • Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) – tasked with monitoring the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1373 (2001).

  • Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) – established under UNSC Resolution 1535 that was adopted in 2004 to assist the work of the CTC and coordinate the process of monitoring the implementation of Resolution 1373 (2001).

  • United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) – established in 2005 by the UN Secretary General. The mandate of the CTITF is to strengthen coordination and coherence of counter-terrorism efforts of the United Nations system. The Task Force consists of 38 international entities which by virtue of their work have a stake in multilateral counter-terrorism efforts. Each entity makes contributions consistent with its own mandate.

  • United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre – established in 2011. The UNCCT provides capacity-building assistance to Member States and carries out counter-terrorism projects around the world in line with the four pillars of the Global Strategy.

  • United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) – established in 2017 by UN General Assembly. The office aims to have a close relationship with Security Council bodies and Member States, strengthening existing and developing new partnerships.

  • European Commission Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) – RAN is a network of frontline or grassroots practitioners from around Europe who work daily with people who have already been radicalised, or who are vulnerable to radicalisation.

More specifically, practitioners include police and prison authorities, but also those who are not traditionally involved in counter-terrorism activities, such as teachers, youth workers, civil society representatives, local authorities’ representatives and healthcare professionals.

  • INTERPOL Counter-Terrorism Fusion Centre (CTF) – investigates the organisational hierarchies, training, financing, methods and motives of terrorist groups.