10 March 1999


Press Release
L/2914



AD HOC COMMITTEE ON INSTRUMENTS TO COMBAT INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM TO MEET AT HEADQUARTERS, 15 - 26 MARCH

19990310
Background Release The Ad Hoc Committee established by the General Assembly to prepare instruments to combat international terrorism will convene its third session at Headquarters from 15 to 26 March. It will continue work on a draft international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism and begin elaborating a draft international convention for the suppression of terrorist financing.

The Ad Hoc Committee will attempt to complete work on a draft text originally sponsored by the Russian Federation concerning nuclear terrorism. On terrorist financing it has before it a draft international convention proposed by France.

The opening meeting on Monday, 15 March, will be devoted to the election of officers for the session, adoption of the provisional agenda contained in document A/AC.252/L.6 and the organization of the Committee's work.

Established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996, the Ad Hoc Committee is open to all United Nations Member States, members of the specialized agencies and of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

At its second session, in February 1998, the Ad Hoc Committee reviewed the text of the draft international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism which envisions a wide range of measures to combat it. Acts of nuclear terrorism are defined in the draft instrument as including the use or threat to use nuclear material, nuclear fuel, radioactive products or waste, or any other radioactive substances with toxic, explosive or other dangerous properties.

The convention would apply exclusively to acts by individuals, in an individual capacity or as part of non-State groups or other associations. Matters relating to non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear threats posed by States or intergovernmental organizations are not included.

During a debate on the draft convention in the General Assembly's Sixth Committee (Legal) last November, the representative of the Russian Federation


said the convention would be the first international legal instrument in the area of anti-terrorist activities specially designed as a "preemptive instrument". It stipulated efficient mechanisms for legal assistance, extradition and information exchange.

The 25-article draft international convention for the suppression of terrorist financing contained in working document A/AC.252/L.7 submitted by France, defines the term "financing" as direct or indirect transfer or conversion of funds, assets or other property to third parties or another organization (article 1).

According to article 2 of the draft text, any person commits an offence within the meaning of the convention if that person unlawfully and intentionally proceeds with the financing of a person or organization in the knowledge that it will or could be used to prepare or commit one of the offences within the scope of the following Conventions, subject to its ratification by the State party:

-- Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, done at The Hague on 16 December 1970;

-- Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, done at Montreal on 23 September 1971;

-- Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 14 December 1973;

-- International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 17 December 1979;

-- Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, adopted at Vienna on 3 March 1980;

-- Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation, supplementary to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, done at Montreal on 24 February 1988;

-- Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, done at Rome on 10 March 1988;

-- Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms located on the Continental Shelf, done at Rome on 10 March 1988; and


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-- International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 December 1997 (article 2, 1a).

An offence is committed if a person provides financing for an act designed to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian or to any other person, other than in armed conflict, when such an act, by its nature or context, constitutes a means of intimidating a government or the civilian population (2 1b). Other offences include participation as an accomplice or organizing or directing others to commit an offence set forth in article 2.

The nature of contributions, financing of activities that endangered lives and property, and contributions made in good faith are also set out in the draft text. Each State party would be required to adopt measures to establish as criminal offences under its domestic law, the offences set forth in the draft convention (article 4).

Other provisions of the draft, include that States parties shall cooperate in the prevention of the offences by taking, among others, all practicable measures to prohibit activities of individuals, groups and organizations that encourage, instigate, organize or engage in the commission of the offences set forth in article 2 of the draft convention (article 17).

By the provisions of article 18 of the draft text, the State party where the alleged offender is prosecuted shall, in accordance with its domestic law or applicable procedures, communicate the final outcome of the proceedings to the United Nations Secretary-General, who shall transmit the information to the other States parties.

Any dispute between two or more States parties concerning the interpretation or application of the convention which cannot be settled through negotiation within a reasonable time shall, at the request of one of them, be submitted to arbitration. If, within six months from the date of the request for arbitration, the parties are unable to agree on the organization of the arbitration, any one of those parties may refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice (article 21).

According to General Assembly resolution 53/108 of 8 December 1998, the Ad Hoc Committee is to address at future sessions the means of further developing a comprehensive legal framework of conventions dealing with international terrorism, including considering, on a priority basis, the elaboration of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.

Background on Ad Hoc Committee

The process leading to the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee dates back to the approval in 1994 of resolution 49/60, by which the General


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Assembly adopted a Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism. The Declaration asked the Secretary-General to review existing international legal instruments on the subject to help States identify aspects of the matter that had not been covered by them and which could then be addressed for the development of a comprehensive legal framework on the question.

The Secretary-General reported to the Assembly's Sixth Committee (document A/51/336) that many of the existing 13 global or regional treaties on international terrorism were not universal. Stressing the need for the enactment of international laws not covered by existing treaties, he suggested that consideration should be given to terrorist bombings, terrorist fund- raising and to the prevention of the use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists.

The General Assembly consequently adopted resolution 51/210, which established the Ad Hoc Committee and included a Declaration to Supplement the 1994 Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism. At its first session, held from 24 February to 7 March 1997, the Ad Hoc Committee adopted a report (document A/52/37) transmitting to the Assembly revised proposals on a draft international convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings.

The revised text and other proposals contained in that report formed the basis of further work on the draft convention, which was eventually adopted by the General Assembly on 15 December 1997 on the recommendation of its Sixth Committee. The International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings is the eleventh United Nations legal instrument meant to identify, define and punish specific terrorist acts as international crimes.

Officers of Ad Hoc Committee

Officers of the Ad Hoc Committee at its second session were: Chairman, Philippe Kirsch (Canada); Vice-Chairmen: Carlos Fernando Diaz (Costa Rica); Hussein Mubarak (Egypt); Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka); and Rapporteur, Martin Smejkal (Czech Republic).

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