16 March 1999


Press Release
L/2916



AD HOC COMMITTEE BEGINS FIRST READING OF DRAFT CONVENTION ON SUPPRESSION OF TERRORISM FINANCING

19990316
The Ad Hoc Committee on instruments to combat international terrorism this morning approved the work programme for its current session and constituted itself into a Working Group of the Whole to begin the first reading of a draft international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism.

In conducting the first reading, the Working Group would review those provisions which were unique to the proposed convention, Philippe Kirsch (Canada), the Committee Chairman, said. It would then review those articles which were similar but not identical to the corresponding provisions of the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings.

With regard to the draft convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, informal consultations among interested delegations would continue in order to explore consensus positions on the remaining issues relating to the scope of the convention, the Chairman said.

The Ad Hoc Committee will meet again in plenary at a date to be announced.

Ad Hoc Committee Work Programme

The Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996 met this morning to begin the first reading of the draft international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism contained in document A/AC.252/L.7*. The discussion will be conducted through a Working Group of the Whole.

A working document submitted by France (A/AC.252/L.7/Add.1), outlining the need for the convention, states that combating the financing of terrorism, whether from "lawful" activities (relating to trade, industry or charity) or "unlawful" ones (relating to racketeering, drug trafficking, procuring, armed robbery, etc.), constitutes a priority objective for agencies actively engaged in anti-terrorist operations. It also states that a terrorist group's ability


to strike, acquire a powerful arsenal, make itself known, recruit and train its members depends on its sources of funding.

Much remains to be done before the structure of international law will be complete, the document states. The one major area that remains to be dealt with is the absence of an international convention to combat the financing of terrorism. The 11 existing international conventions do not provide investigators with adequate means of proceeding effectively against those who supply funds and those who sponsor terrorist attacks.

The French document details the main features of the draft convention. Financing has been drafted for broad interpretation: all means of financing are included to cover "unlawful" means (such as racketeering) and "lawful" means (such as private financing, public or semi-public financing, or financing provided by associations). The draft convention is concerned only with the financing of actions of the most serious kind.

According to the draft, the convention is aimed at "those who give orders"; who are aware of the use of the funds, and contributors; who are aware of the terrorist nature of the aims and objectives of the whole or part of the association which they support with their donations in cash or in kind. It is not aimed primarily at ordinary individuals. The proposed convention provides for a regime of liability for legal entities.

Criminal proceedings must be initiated under the "prosecute or extradite" principle, which is the cornerstone of the draft convention, the document states. Supplementing that principle, the draft includes a preventive provision designed to obviate requests for extradition or mutual assistance made for the purpose of punishing the person who is the subject of the request on account of that person's race, religion, ethnic origin and the like.

The sanctions regime in the draft text is designed to have a powerful deterrent effect: persons committing terrorist acts are subject to severe penalties. The draft convention also provides for the possibility of the seizure or freezing of property or assets used in committing the offence.

Although the proposed convention is primarily concerned with prosecution, the French memorandum states that it gives a prominent place to mutual legal assistance. Among its important provisions are: banking secrecy may not be claimed as grounds for denying assistance to investigators; and no offence may be regarded, for the purposes of extradition or mutual legal assistance, as a fiscal offence.


Ad Hoc Committee on Assembly - 3 - Press Release L/2916 Resolution 51/210 16 March 1999 9th Meeting (AM)

Statement by Chairman

PHILIPPE KIRSCH (Canada), Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, said that it would begin the first reading of the draft international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism in a Working Group of the Whole. The Working Group would first review provisions of the articles unique to the draft convention. Those were article 1, paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 (definition of "financing", "funds" and "organization"; article 2, paragraph 1 "offences"; article 5 (responsibilities of State parties); article 8 (measures to permit forfeiture of funds, etc.); article 12, paragraphs 3 and 4 (legal assistance in investigation or criminal or extradition proceedings); and article 17, paragraph 1 (cooperation in prevention of offences). That did not exclude appropriate comments by delegations on other provisions of those articles, the Chairman said.

He also said that, thereafter, the Working Group would then proceed with the review of those articles which were similar but not identical to the corresponding provisions of the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings. They were article 3 (offence committed within a single State); article 6 (action at domestic level); and article 7, paragraphs 1, 2 and 5 (domestic jurisdiction over offences).

The Chairman said that in the course of the first reading of the draft text, the Working Group would also consider proposals submitted by various delegations. He drew attention to proposals submitted by Switzerland on article 1, paragraph 1, article 2, paragraph 1, article 5, paragraph 1, article 12 and article 13 issued in documents A/AC.252/WP.1 through 4.

With regard to the draft convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, the Chairman said informal consultations among interested delegations should continue in the next few days for the exploration of consensus positions on the remaining issues relating to the scope of the convention.

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