International terrorism reached its peak on September 11, 2001 when four civilian airplanes were hijacked and hit the World Trade Centre in New York and part of the Pentagon in Washington D.C. Such attacks were considered a serious challenge for contemporary societies which called on their military, economic, and political might to declare an open war against international terrorism. This so-called counter terrorism war emerged to shape the new world order. Such war was accompanied by gross violations of public international law, the international human rights law and the international humanitarian law. In fact, some opportunistic régimes found it a suitable opportunity to attack their political opponents. Opportunism and severe violation of human rights generated severe international opposition, especially from the United Nations which rejected any violation of human rights under any pretext, as it is not acceptable to combat a most serious violation by an even worse violation. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights warned against listening or following heated counter terrorism desires or measures at the expense of human values, human rights, and the rules of international humanitarian law.

Therefore, this research is a study of the obligation to respect human rights and humanitarian law while combating terrorism. This study is divided into two sections: the first deals with the role of the international community in facing the challenges of international terrorism, and the second deals with the relationship between the war on terrorism and the obligation to respect human rights.