11 November 1998


Press Release
GA/L/3094



AS PART OF INTERNATIONAL EFFORT TO DEVELOP LEGAL FRAMEWORK TO FIGHT TERRORISM, SIXTH COMMITTEE CONTINUES DEBATE ON DRAFT CONVENTION AGAINST NUCLEAR TERRORISM

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Approves Draft on Work Of United Nations Commission on International Trade Law

Discussions on measures to eliminate international terrorism must include the dangers posed by the use of mercenaries for political ends, the representative of Maldives told the Sixth Committee (Legal), as it continued its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism.

The Maldives representative said his country's own bitter experience 10 years ago clearly showed how mercenary and terrorist activities went together. It had, therefore, signed the International Convention against the Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, but, regrettably, that instrument had still not entered into force nearly a decade after it was opened for signature.

Under discussion in the Committee was a draft text of a convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism as part of an effort to develop a comprehensive legal framework of conventions dealing with international terrorism.

Statements on the elimination of terrorism were also made by the representatives of Turkey, Kuwait, Bangladesh, South Africa, Libya, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Bahrain and Fiji.

Also this afternoon, the Committee approved, without a vote, a 68-Power draft resolution on the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), by which the General Assembly would call upon all bodies in the United Nations system and other international organizations to take account of the mandate of the Commission in order to avoid undesirable duplication in the work on international trade law. The Assembly would also appeal to governments to reply to a questionnaire circulated by the Secretariat on the legal regime governing the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards.

The Committee will meet again tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. to continue its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism.


Committee Work Programme

The Sixth Committee (Legal) met this afternoon to continue its review on a revised draft text of a convention on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism submitted to it by a Committee working group, as part of its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism. (For details, see Press Release GA/L/3093,issued today.)

Statements

YESIM BAYKAL (Turkey) said terrorism was one of the most important items on the agenda of the Sixth Committee this year. The United Nations should look at how terrorism was sustained and take concerted action in the fight against terrorism. Member States had to recognize that allowing their territories to be used for illegal activities of persons, groups or organizations that instigated or were engaged in terrorist acts was a violation of the Charter. Such acquiescence or support was an indirect use of force and violated the Charter.

Given the fact terrorism was also sustained by financing, she welcomed the French proposal on a universal convention against the financing of terrorism. Such an approach should be able to freeze the assets of organizations or individuals that had taken direct or indirect part in terrorist acts. A global approach, though, could only be achieved through a general United Nations convention on the suppression of terrorism, that is, a comprehensive legal framework which would cover all aspects of the matter. Another obstacle to eliminating terrorism was that terrorists were able to ask for asylum and, more importantly, were granted asylum.

Stating her country's support for the various conventions and drafts on terrorism, she expressed disappointment that the crime of terrorism was not included in the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. She added that the Court's Statute should also include the crime of illicit drug trafficking, which had strong linkages with terrorist crimes.

AYADAH AL SAIDI (Kuwait) recalled the several important steps taken by the Sixth Committee in recent years to combat international terrorism, including a 1994 declaration -- adopted by the General Assembly -- which condemned all forms of terrorism and urged States to abide by the principles of the United Nations Charter. No State, whatever its power, could be safe from terrorism. Kuwait condemned all forms of terrorism, but said distinction should be drawn between it and the legitimate struggle for self-determination. The international community must work together to combat terrorism, he said, adding that such cooperation could be useful if all States worked together. He supported an Egyptian proposal for the convening of an international conference on terrorism.


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He said the Ad Hoc Committee should continue its work on the draft convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism. There should be a clear-cut definition of terrorism to differentiate it from acts of self- defence and self-determination. He condemned, particularly, State terrorism and recalled his country's own experience during its invasion by Iraq. He said many people had been killed and governmental structures, including oil installations, destroyed. The Iraqi regime continued to hold Kuwaiti citizens prisoner, contrary to Security Council resolutions, he said.

A.K.H. MORSHED (Bangladesh) said the international community should adopt a comprehensive approach to support the elimination of international terrorism. Such an approach should consist of three basic elements: an all- encompassing international regime for combating terrorism; a high degree of political cooperation among States; and efforts to defuse terrorism within the socio-political context of situations which generated hate, despair and extremism. While working towards that end, gaps in the current regime should be filled through new instruments or extending the scope of existing ones.

Probably no other form of terrorism called for as high and broad a degree of international cooperation as did nuclear terrorism, he said. It was, therefore, very important to have a convention that could attract universal support. The existing text was premised on a view of international humanitarian law that Bangladesh did not share. Language that was without prejudice to opposing views needed to be found. He welcomed the draft texts tabled by France and India and said they deserved serious and urgent consideration.

JOANN SCHNEEBERGER (South Africa), reaffirming her country's position that all acts of terrorism were unjustifiable, said South Africa supported the strengthening of international cooperation to eliminate it. South Africa was currently reviewing its national legislation to ensure harmonization with international conventions on terrorism and it encouraged others to do so. She noted, however, that the draft articles on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism contained certain elements which would contradict efforts being made in the fields of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.

Her delegation had taken note of the French proposal for the elaboration of a convention for the suppression of terrorist financing, and was studying it with great interest. South Africa, however, questioned whether the continuous elaboration of individual international conventions was sufficient to ensure the joint, organized response to terrorism which was essential. It also questioned whether such ventures were the correct interpretation of the Ad Hoc Committee's mandate to develop a comprehensive legal framework covering all aspects of terrorism. She said a comprehensive convention on terrorism was required to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.


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She reiterated the call by the recent Durban Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement for an international conference, under United Nations auspices, to formulate a joint international response to terrorism. Such an action was imperative.

ABDUSSALAM A. SERGIWA (Libya) said terrorism was a grave threat to all mankind. It threatened the security of States and peoples. It was important to eradicate the root causes of terrorism. Despite efforts over the years by the United Nations to combat terrorism, there were signs that acts of terrorism were multiplying and intensifying. Furthermore, the methods had become more sophisticated. Many countries were suffering and many innocent people were paying with their lives, because of the inability of the United Nations to act decisively and comprehensively on that issue.

The threat from State terrorism was even more serious, he said. The struggling against terrorism and its defeat would only be achieved by arriving at a clear and universally accepted definition of terrorism. Such a definition must distinguish between acts of terrorism and legitimate acts of self- determination. The use by States of embargoes, blockades and nuclear threats was genuine terrorism and should be identified as such, and condemned. Further, the use of force by any State against another was in violation of the Charter. Libya rejected the campaign to associate Islam with terrorism. Islam respected human dignity and human life, and rejected terrorism.

He stressed that States which trained and financed terrorists were also responsible. He asked who had mobilized and trained those who had fought in Afghanistan. Who supported the mujahedin when they were fighting the Soviets, who was now calling them terrorists? Why were they freedom fighters then, and terrorists now?

Libya had been the victim of terrorist practices, he continued. It had been subjected to threatening military action by the United States in 1986. Sanctions had been imposed against it. All with the aim of subjugating and dominating Libya. Therefore, Libya's condemnation of terrorism was irrespective of whomever was behind it. He supported the holding of a special General Assembly session to search for a legal definition of international terrorism.

While he supported the work on the draft on nuclear terrorism, he expressed concern that the draft convention did not deal with the legal definition of nuclear terrorism, nor did it deal with the problem of nuclear material on the high seas. It also neglected to deal with the use of nuclear weapons by armed forces.

NENAD KOLEV (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said the draft convention was a concrete contribution to the overall efforts to create a world in which the threat of nuclear terrorism would be diminished, if not


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eliminated. His country was deeply concerned about the worldwide escalation of acts of terrorism and unequivocally condemned them. He urged States to devise and adopt effective and practical measures for the prevention of all terrorist acts, including adapting their national laws and exchanging accurate and verified information. He also fully supported the French proposal for the elaboration of a convention on the financing of terrorism.

HUSSAIN SHIHAB (Maldives) said his country, a past victim of terrorism, still remained vulnerable to it as a small island State. Discussions on measures to eliminate international terrorism must include the dangers posed by the use of mercenaries for political ends. His country's own bitter experience 10 years ago clearly showed how mercenary and terrorist activities went together. That was why it had signed the International Convention against the Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries. He said it was regrettable that the Convention had still not entered into force, nearly a decade after it was opened for signature. He urged States to ratify it, to ensure its entry into force.

Through General Assembly resolution 44/51 of 18 December 1989 on the protection and security of small States and follow-up resolutions, he said Maldives had tried to draw international attention to the dangers posed by terrorism to small States. It had also highlighted the importance of international cooperation in the effort to combat it. Terrorists and their methods threatened the very values the United Nations represented and upheld. States must ensure that their response to that threat did not undermine the very values they sought to protect. The only effective response was international cooperation, he said.

WALID DOUDECH (Tunisia) said it was important that an international instrument be adopted to combat the scourge of terrorism. The Declaration which urged States not to provide assistance to terrorists, adopted by the General Assembly in 1994, was one such instrument. Its other provisions included cooperation on an exchange of information on terrorist activities. The instrument broadened international awareness of the seriousness of the problem. He stressed the importance of international cooperation in that effort.

He recalled the appeal by the Non-Aligned Movement at its recent summit in South Africa for an organized response from the international community to combat terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations. He said the working group should continue its work on the draft articles on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, and should attempt to reconcile the various differences expressed by delegations.

EBRAHIM MUBARAK AL-DOSARI (Bahrain) said the various conventions and drafts on terrorism provided a legal framework which made it possible for the international community to pursue a global strategy in combating terrorism.


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He believed it was possible today to adopt an even larger number of measures to assist in the effort to combat terrorism. For example, it was possible to arrive at a precise definition of terrorism. He supported the holding of an international conference on terrorism to achieve a definition. Also, machinery should be put in place to enable States to cooperate and combine efforts to obtain results in the fight against terrorism.

It was the duty of all States to extradite a person to the State affected by a terrorist crime, he said. Countries should offer each other full and complete judicial assistance. There should also be cooperation to reach a single concept of asylum in order to prevent terrorists from using the concept to find safe havens. Bahrain made an effort to engage the media in denouncing terrorism. It was also important to explore ways to produce a better understanding of human rights, as that issue was often used as pretext by terrorists for support of their activities.

SAKIUSA RABUKA (Fiji) said terrorism knew no borders, and international efforts coordinated by the United Nations were required to combat it. His country was harmonizing legislation on terrorism and was consulting with Australia on aspects of mutual assistance. He said international cooperation in the areas of law enforcement was needed to deal with terrorism. He hoped a draft convention would be finalized in the not-too-distant future.

Action on UNCITRAL Text

LILLY SUCHARIPA (Austria) introduced the draft resolution on the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) (document A/C.6/53/L.7). She said Morocco had joined the co-sponsors. She hoped the draft would be approved by consensus.

By the draft text, the General Assembly, concerned that activities by other United Nations bodies in the field of international trade law without coordination with the Commission might lead to undesirable duplication of efforts, would call upon all bodies of the United Nations system to bear in mind the mandate of the Commission to organize international trade law. Other international organizations would similarly be invited to do the same.

The Assembly would appeal to governments to reply to a questionnaire circulated by the Secretariat on the legal regime governing the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. States would be invited to nominate persons to work with a private foundation established to encourage assistance to the Commission from the private sector. The Commission would be asked to continue to maintain close cooperation with other international organs and organizations, including regional organizations, active in the field of international trade law.


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By other provisions of the draft, the Assembly would reaffirm the importance, particularly for developing countries, of the Commission's work with training and technical assistance, including in the preparation of national legislation based on legal texts of the Commission. It would express the desirability for increased efforts by the Commission in sponsoring seminars and symposia to provide such assistance.

The Assembly would appeal for voluntary contributions to the trust fund for travel assistance.

The draft is sponsored by Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Myanmar, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Before action was taken on the draft, the representative of Fiji announced that his delegation would like to join the co-sponsors.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution by consensus.

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