In countering violent extremism, the law has been used a one of the primary tools to counter violent extremism in many states across the world. Although the UN Security Council has called upon states to enact anti-terrorism legislation, it has not provided any assistance as to how terrorism should be defined. There is no international consensus as to how terrorism should be defined. Consequently, broad definitions of domestic laws have been used as instruments to target religious or political dissenters. This highlights the way in which the law has also been used as a tool for discrimination in the context of CVE measures.
Although UN Resolutions have emphasised the importance of upholding human rights, rights have often been secondary to security. Most criminal justice systems demand high standards of proof and procedural requirements for a fair trial and sentencing. However, the standard protections afforded by the criminal justice system are reduced or removed for individuals suspected of violent extremism. The focus on security has therefore undermined the central role of human rights. In addition, human rights organisations lack donor support in addressing issues with governments. Organisations also fear losing donor support if they are working to highlight the problems faced by marginalised or excluded groups in CVE measures undertaken by governments. Civil society has a key role to play in promoting human rights and advocating for the rights of marginalised groups.