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Criminal Justice Responses to the Linkages between Terrorism and International Crimes

Many terrorism-related crimes have an international dimension and overlap in scope with other types of crimes. The nexus between trafficking and sexual and gender-based violence in the context of the activities of terrorist groups has already been recognized in Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2195 (2014) and subsequently in UNSCR 2331 (2016) and UNSCR 2388 (2017). Terrorist organizations use sexual violence and human trafficking systematically and strategically as a tactic of terrorism and as a source of financing. The link with migrant smuggling will also be explored.

Despite the continuous use of sexual violence, particularly those related to conflicts, and the increased attention of the international community, prosecution of these crimes remains very low.  Terrorist acts can also amount to international crimes. Some terrorist acts can constitute crimes against humanity provided that the terrorist attack is part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population or war crimes when committed during armed conflicts. In some situations terrorist acts may also constitute genocide if they were committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such.

States are required to prosecute and hold the perpetrators of terrorist acts accountable for their actions in a manner duly reflecting the seriousness of the offence, in accordance with international human rights law, international refugee law, and international humanitarian law, and within the rule of law. The overlap between terrorism, transnational organized crime and international crimes raises several criminal justice challenges. It triggers questions relating to the applicable legal regimes, jurisdiction, cooperation matters and evidentiary challenges.

About the Project

The Linkages between Terrorism and International Crimes Project began in September 2020 and will end in October 2021. It is spearheaded by ICCT and is being conducted in association with the Global Counter Terrorism Forum’s Criminal Justice and Rule of Law Working Group. The project builds on the Abuja Recommendations on the Collection, Use and Sharing of Evidence for Purposes of Criminal Prosecution of Terrorist Suspects, but will also build on other relevant GCTF documents such as Rabat Memorandum on Good Practices for Effective Counterterrorism Practice in the Criminal Justice Sector and Madrid Memorandum on Good Practices for Assistance to Victims of Terrorism Immediately after the Attack and in Criminal Proceedings, as well as the Addendum to The Hague Good Practices on the Nexus between Transnational Organized Crime and Terrorism: Focus on Criminal Justice.


  1. Increasing the understanding of the nexus between terrorism, sexual and gender-based violence, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and international crimes;
  2. Strengthening the (international and national) legislative framework and its implementation;
  3. Overcoming the jurisdiction challenges related to the linkages between terrorism, sexual and gender-based violence, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and international crimes;
  4. Enhancing the investigation and prosecution of terrorist-related crimes with linkages to sexual and gender-based violence, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and international crimes;
  5. Strengthening the position of victims.

The Experts

Meet the ICCT team members and our partners who contributed to this project.