I am delighted to send you my best wishes at the opening of your two-day conference on democracy and terrorism.
The theme of your conference is never very far away from my mind. Terrorism can have no justification. Terrorism represents a direct and uncompromising challenge to all of us.
There can never be any excuse for the senseless carnage perpetrated by terrorist groups. There is no justification for terrorist campaigns waged to redress domestic or international grievances, no matter how pressing these may be.
Terrorism is the very antithesis of democracy. Terrorism takes decisions out of the hands of the people and places them in the power of a small, secret, self-selected few. Terrorism is the instrument of dictators.
Democracy requires respect for life and for the rule of law. Democracy cannot be achieved by methods and campaigns which negate the very essence of civil and political discourse. Above all, democracy can never accommodate those who seek to win power through terror and cold-blooded murder against innocent civilians.
As Indian history has so graphically shown, peaceful liberation and change is always possible. Experience has taught us that communal enmity and mistrust can foster intolerance, extremism and violence. But there is always an alternative to the bullet and the bomb. Non-violent protest can be a positive catalyst for real and lasting change. No-one should ever lose sight of that important, but so easily overlooked fact.
* Press Release SG/SM/6028, dated 24 July, should have been numbered SG/SM/6027.
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Our starting point therefore should be the clearest possible repudiation of terrorism, its methods and its goals. The world however, can do more than express its horror and disgust at terrorist outrages.
Working together, the international community has already agreed to greater cooperation and a redoubling of effort against the terrorist threat.
The United Nations has been at the forefront of these initiatives, calling for a more systematic and organized response from Member States, greater cooperation and the sharing of information. The Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism adopted by the General Assembly in 1994 provides a concrete and comprehensive plan of action.
Today, the United Nations stands ready to coordinate new counter- terrorist measures on a global scale. If we are to defeat terrorism, responding to individual acts of terror can never be enough. We need to widen our efforts to combat terrorist organizations at every stage of their fund- raising, planning and procurement activities.
This is an ongoing struggle, but it is one which with renewed determination the world must and can win.
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