Strengthening the rule of law in counter-terrorism

Update 14 May 2012: Dowload here the report UN Reform, the Rule of Law and Counter-Terrorism: How Can Past Lessons Inform Future Responses?, by Katja L. H. Samuel, Nigel D. White and Ana María Salinas de Frías. Also available the executive summary. This report was used as the basis of the UN co-sponsored book launch event in New York.

These publications are the output of a significant 3 year multinational, multidisciplinary project on the rule of law and counter-terrorism under the umbrella of the World Justice Project, an ambitious independent project to strengthen the rule of law worldwide ( The Club de Madrid partnered with Nottingham University, UK (Dr Katja Samuel and Professor Nigel White, project co-directors), Dr Silvia Casale (formerly President of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, and of the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture); and Málaga University, Spain (Professor Ana María Salinas de Friás). The publications, which are solution orientated, draw on the expertise of 50 significant contributors from around the world, and are expected to become important global resources, especially for governmental and intergovernmental counter-terrorism policy-makers and practitioners.

Four Members participated in one of two formative workshops held in Santander, Spain in June 2009, courtesy of the Gobierno de Cantabria, Cámara Cantabria, Ayuntamiento de Santander, and Universidad International Mendendez Pelayo: HE Mary Robinson, Petre Roman, Cassam Uteem, and Valdis Birkavs. Additionally, HE Mary Robinson wrote the foreword to the book, and the former Secretary-General of the Club de Madrid, Fernando Perpiñá-Robert, also contributed a chapter on ‘Counter-Terrorism Policy-Making from the Perspective of a Diplomat’.

Key project objectives include the examination, clarification, normative development, and making recommendations regarding the implementation of the principal rule of law principles underpinning the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy 2006, especially those of international human rights, humanitarian, refugee, and criminal law. Many sources and examples of related security imperative tensions are examined also, including how these may be accommodated within the existing legal framework, not least for reasons of legality and legitimacy, as well as examples of best practice. 

More specifically, the project examines such issues as violent mobilization, impunity, accountability, regional and international judicial and non-judicial control mechanisms, terrorist classification, battlefield treatment of detainees, interrogation, extraordinary rendition, extra-judicial killings, intelligence gathering, discrimination, diplomatic assurances, the reparation of victims of terrorist attacks and security imperatives, state responsibility, and international cooperation.

Further information on the project is available from Rúben Campos (, and Katja Samuel (project manager,