How are Security Council resolutions and other international instruments relevant to my work in my national jurisdiction as a prosecutor?


The resolutions are typically adopted upon a finding by the Council of threats to international peace and security, such as from various forms of terrorism.   See The Role of Security Council. Council on Foreign Relations,  (August 12, 2021); see also,Operations%20and%20Special%20Political%20Missions (discussing the role of the Security Council in maintaining international peace and security).  The treaties are negotiated and ratified by Members States under the UN umbrella in response to a need for cross-border action to tackle problems like terrorism and corruption, which by their nature do not respect national boundaries.   Knowledge of and adherence to the international instruments and standards, as a practical matter, will often make your job easier.  For example, if your national jurisdiction ratifies an international instrument, as a prosecutor you will receive assistance pursuant to that treaty from all other States which have ratified it, enhancing your ability to receive international assistance and facilitating the prosecution of your cases.  See International Law Aspects of Countering Terrorism,

In addition, knowledge of and adherence to Security Council resolutions and the work of the Council regarding, for example, terrorism and the threat posed by specific groups such as ISIL or Al-Qaeda, will inform you as to the threat posed by these groups in your region and national jurisdiction, which can be useful in the investigation and prosecution of cases.  Further, adherence to the resolutions by Member States can help to lessen the threat these groups pose to international peace and security, thereby benefitting the global community.

How do I save victims’ lives at the scene of a terrorist incident without destroying the crime scene?


The short answer is – save lives and don’t worry about the crime scene!  Preservation of life should always be the priority of first responders at the scene of a terrorist incident.  The senior investigator should recognise this too.  It is inevitable that the life saving process means that first responders will leave traces of their presence at the scene – footprints, DNA, fibres and so on – and take some forensic evidence away from the scene when they leave.  This is, after all, what Locard’s Principle is about: every contact leaves a trace.  Having said this, damage to vital forensic evidence can be minimised by creating a common approach path, so that all responders come and go using the same route. It’s vital too that access to the crime scene is kept to a minimum and that a record is kept of every person entering the scene and the reason for their presence there – a crime scene log.  Once the life saving is over, the scene should then be preserved for the crime scene investigators to start the process of collecting forensic samples and working out what was left by the criminals and what was left by first responders. They will refer to the crime scene log to help them eliminate samples left accidentally by those involved in the all important life saving process.    

What are the rules for using special investigative techniques?


Whilst the law and procedure on special investigative techniques are specific to each jurisdiction, there are some fundamental principles that underpin the use of the techniques and these are common to all countries.  

Special investigative techniques – covert surveillance of one form or another – are vital tools in the pursuit of terrorists.  The issue with them is that they tend to undermine the human rights of those they are used to investigate or, worse still, of innocent people who encounter the subject of the investigation in their everyday lives.  It’s usually the right to privacy which is undermined most readily by the techniques.  That’s why most countries have special laws and procedures designed to ensure that the techniques are not abused.

The four fundamental principles that underpin the use of these techniques are called the human rights principles.  They are: Proportionality, Legality, Accountability and Necessity (so we can use the nemonic ‘PLAN’ to remember them).

Proportionality – is the objective proportional to the technique?

Legality – is the use of the technique legal in the circumstances?

Accountability – is the use of the technique correctly authorised and recorded?

Necessity – is it necessary to use the technique in the circumstances, or could a less intrusive technique achieve the same objective?

All four principles must be adhered to.

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