19 October 1999


Press Release
SC/6741



SECURITY COUNCIL UNEQUIVOCALLY CONDEMNS TERRORISM AS ‘CRIMINAL AND UNJUSTIFIABLE’

19991019

Adopts Resolution (1269) Unanimously

Unequivocally condemning all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, the Security Council today called upon all States to fully implement the international anti-terrorist conventions to which they were parties and encouraged them to consider, as a matter of priority, adhering to those to which they are not parties. Also, it encouraged the speedy adoption of the pending conventions.

By unanimously adopting resolution 1269 (1999), the Council stressed the vital role of the United Nations in strengthening international cooperation in combating terrorism, and emphasized the importance of enhanced coordination among States, international and regional organizations.

In the context of such cooperation and coordination, it called upon all States to: take appropriate steps to cooperate with each other, particularly through bilateral and multilateral agreements and arrangements; prevent and suppress terrorist acts; protect their nationals and other persons against terrorist attacks; and bring to justice the perpetrators of such acts. States should also exchange information in accordance with international and domestic law, cooperate on administrative and judicial matters in order to prevent the commission of terrorist acts, and use all lawful means to prevent and suppress the preparation and financing of any such acts in their territories.

The Council called on all States to deny safe havens for those who planned, financed or committed terrorist acts by ensuring their apprehension and prosecution or extradition. Further, before granting refugee status, States should take appropriate measures in conformity with national and international law, including international standards of human rights, to ensure that the asylum-seeker had not participated in terrorist acts.

Also this afternoon, the Council requested the Secretary-General, in his reports to the General Assembly -- in particular those submitted in accordance with its resolution 50/53 on measures to eliminate


Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6741 4053rd Meeting (AM) 19 October 1999

international terrorism -- to pay special attention to the need to prevent and fight the threat to international peace and security resulting from terrorist activities. It expressed its readiness to consider relevant provisions of those reports and take steps in accordance with its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations in order to counter terrorist threats to international peace and security.

The representatives of Brazil, Argentina, Slovenia, Canada, Netherlands, United States, France, United Kingdom, China, Malaysia, Gabon, Bahrain, Namibia and the Russian Federation spoke.

The meeting, which began at 11:04 a.m., adjourned at 12:21 p.m.


Security Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this morning to consider its responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security, in particular the threat of international terrorism.

Draft Resolution

The Council had before it a draft resolution (document S/1999/1071) which reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Deeply concerned by the increase in acts of international terrorism which endangers the lives and well-being of individuals worldwide as well as the peace and security of all States,

“Condemning all acts of terrorism, irrespective of motive, wherever and by whomever committed,

“Mindful of all relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, including resolution 49/60 of December 9, 1994, by which it adopted Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism,

“Emphasizing the necessity to intensify the fight against terrorism at the national level and to strengthen, under the auspices of the United Nations, effective international cooperation in this field on the basis of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and norms of international law, including respect for international humanitarian law and human rights,

“Supporting the efforts to promote universal participation in and implementation of the existing international anti-terrorist conventions, as well as to develop new international instruments to counter the terrorist threat,

“Commending the work done by the General Assembly, relevant United Nations organs and specialized agencies and regional and other organizations, to combat international terrorism,

“Determined to contribute, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, to the efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms,

“Reaffirming that the suppression of acts of international terrorism, including those in which States are involved, is an essential contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security,

“1. Unequivocally condemns all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomever committed, in particular those which could threaten international peace and security;

“2. Calls upon all States to implement fully the international anti-terrorist conventions to which they are parties, encourages all States to consider as a matter of priority adhering to those to which they are not parties; and encourages also the speedy adoption of the pending conventions;

“3. Stresses the vital role of the United Nations in strengthening international cooperation in combating terrorism and emphasizes the importance of enhanced coordination among States, international and regional organizations;

“4. Calls upon all States to take, inter alia, in the context of such cooperation and coordination, appropriate steps to:

- cooperate with each other, particularly through bilateral and multilateral agreements and arrangements, to prevent and suppress terrorist acts, protect their nationals and other persons against terrorist attacks and bring to justice the perpetrators of such acts;

- prevent and suppress in their territories through all lawful means the preparation and financing of any acts of terrorism;

- deny those who plan, finance or commit terrorist acts safe havens by ensuring their apprehension and prosecution or extradition;

- take appropriate measures in conformity with the relevant provisions of national and international law, including international standards of human rights, before granting refugee status, for the purpose of ensuring that the asylum-seeker has not participated in terrorist acts;

- exchange information in accordance with international and domestic law, and cooperate on administrative and judicial matters in order to prevent the commission of terrorist acts;

“5. Requests the Secretary-General, in his reports to the General Assembly, in particular submitted in accordance with its resolution 50/53 on measures to eliminate international terrorism, to pay special attention to the need to prevent and fight the threat to international peace and security as a result of terrorist activities;

“6. Expresses its readiness to consider relevant provisions of the reports mentioned in paragraph 5 above and to take necessary steps in accordance with its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations in order to counter terrorist threats to international peace and security;

“7. Decides to remain seized of this matter.”

Statements

GELSON FONSECA (Brazil) said that since the issue was first brought before the General Assembly in 1972, the international community had been working on measures to combat the global scourge. In the 1994 and 1996 Declarations on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism, all terrorist acts and methods were condemned regardless of political, philosophical, ideological, ethnic or religious considerations. The phenomenon persisted, however.

He said it was important that the Assembly continue to move ahead in drafting further links in the network of interlocking conventions that sought to deal with the different facets of the wide-ranging problems. Brazil supported the initiative on nuclear terrorism and welcomed the conclusion of negotiations on a convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism. That draft convention was particularly welcome, as it dealt with the complex transnational financial operations supporting terrorist activities.

Combating terrorism called for coordinated initiatives and overarching strategies, he said. Terrorism was the antithesis of democracy and must be resisted at all costs. The roots of terrorism were complex. No country was guaranteed to be free from the scourge of terrorist activities. Often, terrorism found fertile ground amid civil strife and deprivation, presenting challenges that went beyond interdiction and repression. The United Nations endeavour should be guided by a broader and more comprehensive discussion on the root causes of terrorism.

The General Assembly should now begin considering a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, as called for in resolution 53/108, he said. It would provide a sound juridical framework for the application of existing conventions, and help the international community come to grips with a situation that eluded definition. The central responsibility to address the issue lay with the Assembly, but the Council could still contribute to collective efforts to reinforce international cooperation in combating terrorism. Today's resolution supported the work done by the Assembly and other relevant bodies, and expressed the Council's willingness to contribute to international efforts.

FERNANDO ENRIQUE PERTRELLA (Argentina) said that after the terrorist attack in Buenos Aires in 1994, his Government felt that the action of the United Nations in its struggle against terrorism should be as intense as its struggle against other international crimes. The United Nations work had been, for many years, conditioned by the ideological confrontation of the cold war. The thrust of the new initiatives was an encouraging sign and augured well for a new response.

He said terrorism was always unjustifiable because it attacked the civilian population indiscriminately. Its international implications and capacity to inflict lethal harm had been geometrically increased by modern technology. There was a growing will in the international community to make terrorism an international crime. The resolutions and conventions that had been adopted represented a range of concrete measures and norms that encouraged cooperation and enshrined the principle that obliged States to prosecute and punish those responsible for terrorism.

Argentina would contribute to current actions to suppress terrorism, but a great deal remained to be done, he said. The Council could and must play an important role in strengthening the practical application of resolutions and conventions against terrorism. It was necessary to take into account the attacks to which United Nations personnel had fallen victim. States must investigate those crimes, and those responsible must be found guilty. Today's meeting and resolution contained the message that all acts of terrorism were criminal and unjustifiable and States must cooperate to combat them. The Council recognized that terrorism endangered international peace and security. The United Nations was called upon to play a key role in the combat against international terrorism. He supported the resolution.

DANILO TÜRK (Slovenia) said that, in recent years, terrorism had become one of the serious threats to individuals and governments in many parts of the world. Since such acts often took place on the transnational scale, combating them required international cooperation and coordinated effort. Apart from the universal adherence to existing international counter-terrorism conventions and various legal instruments adopted at the regional level, new legal instruments were needed to counter specific forms and manifestation of terrorism. He welcomed progress achieved on the draft convention on the suppression of terrorist financing, which should be adopted during the fifty-fourth General Assembly, and hoped that the negotiations on the draft convention on the suppression of nuclear terrorism would move forward.

The Security Council should not duplicate the work of the General Assembly, he said. Therefore, it had pronounced its general views only a few times and with great care. That approach seemed a wise guide for the future -- the Council should be careful and avoid creating any impression of departure from the path developed throughout the preceding decades by the Assembly. On the other hand, the Council should be able to identify those situations involving acts of terrorism that amounted to threats to international peace and security, and to act accordingly. That was a difficult task, as the scale of violence and the immediate effects of such acts did not necessarily suggest the existence of such a threat. Further, the responsibility for such acts might be difficult to establish and it might be difficult to reach agreement on the best response. Those problems were inherent in the effort to address the issue of terrorism through Security Council action.

When terrorist acts achieved proportions comparable with the use of force prohibited by the Charter, the question of lawful countermeasures might arise, he said. In such situations, available options should be considered on the basis of criteria established in international law, including the necessity and proportionality of the response.

ROBERT R. FOWLER (Canada) said there was no justification for terrorist acts and there could be no concession to those who made them. In various regional and multilateral forums, including the United Nations, the international community had agreed on important principles in the fight against terrorism. The United Nations had taken further steps with the adoption of the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings. Canada supported the adoption of the convention to prevent the financing of terrorist acts and the early adoption of the convention against acts of nuclear terrorism. Once adopted they, and the 11 existing international counter-terrorism conventions, would go a long way towards implementing a strong "extradite or prosecute" regime for acts of terrorism and thereby eliminate refuge for their perpetrators anywhere in the world.

He said new terrorist threats continued to emerge. The threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists remained acute. States must be ever more vigilant in denying terrorists access to that material and their delivery systems. The multiplicity of international efforts to fight terrorism reflected the importance the international community attached to that issue. Citizens expected that strong action against terrorism would be consistent with broader commitments to human rights and the rule of law. By respecting those principles, the institutions entrusted to fight terrorism would attract public support and deny terrorists the sympathy and support they craved.

ALPHONS HAMER (Netherlands) said the degree of sophistication of terrorist acts, and the increasingly globalized nature of those acts, were new trends. Extensive international networks of organized criminals were creating an infrastructure of "catastrophic terrorism", which posed a serious threat to international peace and security. The establishment of transnational criminal organizations hindered law and order, particularly in countries where a structured governmental organization was no longer in place. Those "failed States" were particularly vulnerable to pressure and bribery from powerful criminal cartels, and their citizens often ended up the helpless victims of violence.

The struggle against terrorism might require more than political, diplomatic and legal means, he said. However, in such cases where the official use of violence was needed, it must be proportionate and limited to the requirements of the maintenance of public order. Innocent civilians must not become the indiscriminate victims of violence aimed at terrorists.

States had a special responsibility and a moral duty to uphold the law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, he said. International terrorism had been on the agenda of the General Assembly since 1972. A number of important international conventions had been adopted, and two were now being considered. That sectoral approach was the most appropriate and practical way for the Organization to address the issue.

RICHARD C. HOLBROOKE (United States) said terrorism was a criminal activity -- regardless of circumstances or reason. The United States would continue to pursue, arrest and prosecute those responsible for terrorist crimes. It was incumbent upon all in the community of nations to stand together in the fight against terrorism. The Council's actions last week against the Taliban was a significant example of what could be achieved when it worked in such a spirit.

Next, the Council should move forward on the French initiative for a new convention for the suppression of terrorist financing, he said. He urged all members that had not done so to become party to the existing conventions against terrorism.

He said much had been done over the past few years to combat international terrorism. Despite the progress made to date, however, international terrorism had shown no sign of letting up. All had a stake in the fight and all had a responsibility to act accordingly. Despite the risks involved, the international community must summon the courage to address the threat at home and abroad.

ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that acts of terrorism could threaten international peace and security. That had been affirmed by the General Assembly in 1994 through its Declaration on measures to eliminate international terrorism. It was therefore legitimate for the Council to take a stand on the issue. Today was not the first time the Council had acted on combating international terrorism.

Today's draft resolution was not designed to have the Council replace the Assembly in defining the principles which must guide the struggle against terrorism, he said. Rather, the Council endorsed those principles, which were based on the categorical condemnation of all terrorist acts, regardless of their location or motive. States must refrain from organizing or supporting terrorist activities, cooperate to extradite such parties, and not grant asylum to perpetrators.

The draft welcomed the work done by the Assembly in drawing up new instruments, and encouraged the adopting of conventions, he said. France hoped that the Assembly would continue its work and adopt, before the end of the year, the conventions on financing and on preventing nuclear terrorism. Terrorist groups power to harm to great extent hinged on their financial means. The convention on the suppression of terrorist financing would, therefore, reaffirm the international community's will to fight terrorism in all its forms. In taking a stand on the issue and confirming the pivotal role played by the United Nations, and supporting the Assembly, the Council would be making an important contribution.

Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said all acts of terrorism, wherever they took place and whoever committed them, must be unequivocally condemned, regardless of the motive behind them. Sadly, not all members of the international community appeared ready to accept that principle. Unanimous adoption of the draft resolution sent a firm message that the international community distanced itself from those who argued that terrorist methods might be justified in certain circumstances.

It was essential to deny safe havens to terrorists, he said. There could be no hiding place where they could feel secure or beyond the reach of the law. It was important for all Member States to become parties to the body of international law which laid the foundations of the international community's response to terrorism.

He said terrorists were increasingly well-funded and adept at transferring funds across borders. Speedy adoption of the new convention on suppression of terrorist financing would be an important step forward. Similarly, the pending convention against acts of nuclear terrorism must be finalized as quickly as possible. The international community must move beyond the mere condemnation of terrorism, and take up the urgent task of finding practical ways to combat the continuing threat.

QIN HUASUN (China) said intensifying efforts to combat terrorism was in the general interest of the international community. More often than not, terrorist activities had, in recent years, assumed a transnational nature. Therefore, international cooperation was of even greater importance. His Government called on countries to offer meaningful, speedy and effective cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Under United Nations auspices, a number of international anti-terrorism conventions had been put in place, he said. Those should be implemented. China noted that the ad hoc committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996 had completed drafting the international convention for the financing of terrorism, put forward by France. The various sides should work in a practical and cooperative spirit to ensure that the convention, as well as the international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, were adopted by the General Assembly. Today's draft resolution was of great significance to the enhancement of international cooperation in anti-terrorism activities and China supported it.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said terrorism should be dealt with by the international community with the severity it deserved. But, it should be dealt with in a fair and objective manner. It was unfortunate that sometimes terrorism was associated or identified with a particular group or groups of people. Stereotyping of terrorism was not a constructive way to create a real understanding of the subject and of combating the menace. Rather, it created misunderstanding and hampered cooperation among nations.

Terrorist acts might have been motivated by "higher principles", but their commission must be strongly condemned. Those acts had nothing to do with the value systems of a particular group or groups of people. He condemned terrorism in all its forms and made no excuses for it, whatever the motivations of its perpetrators, when innocent civilians were deliberately targeted as victims. That those acts might be of a political character did not make them less reprehensible.

It was pertinent, he said, that in defining the term terrorism it be differentiated from the legitimate struggle of peoples under colonial or alien domination and foreign occupation. Self-determination and national liberation were a process that many of the Member States had gone through. It was important that all actions taken to prevent and suppress terrorism be predicated on strict observance of the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of States. He supported the draft resolution.

ALFRED MOUNGARA-MOUSSOTSI (Gabon) said his Government condemned terrorist and indiscriminate attacks against innocent persons. It had denounced all such attacks that had taken place in the past, and similarly condemned the acts recently suffered by the people of the Russian Federation. Gabon condemned terrorism, regardless of its source or motivation.

Terrorism was a violation of human rights, he continued. It threatened public freedoms and established an atmosphere of fear. The links that existed between terrorist organizations and criminal groups should prompt countries to further cooperation in the fight to eliminate terrorism. Therefore, it was gratifying that the matter was on the agenda of the Assembly’s Sixth Committee (Legal) every year. African countries had, at the recent summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Algiers, taken a stand on the struggle against terrorism. That was the continent’s contribution to the elimination of the abomination of terrorism. His delegation would raise its hand high to vote in favour of the draft text.

JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) said the first question in combating terrorism was who stood behind or supported terrorism. Who financed and gave safe haven to the terrorists? The continued perpetration of terrorist acts could not happen without outside support. The worst form of support was the provision of safe haven to terrorists. The international community must tighten the noose around the terrorists by depriving them of safe havens and financing.

He said there was another form of terrorism which was no less grave -- State terrorism. The occupied territories of Palestine and the Syrian Golan Heights had witnessed many kinds of State terrorism. There was plenty of room for the international community to make legal instruments to combat terrorism. There must be a clear definition of the term terrorism and he supported the convening of a conference on the definition of terrorism. Continuing, he said there was also a need for an understanding among States on strengthening the principle of extradition, as well as international cooperation to arrive at a unified understanding of political asylum to prevent terrorists from achieving safe havens. There must also be a wider understanding of the concept of human rights.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said terrorists buried themselves within the community, emerged from the shadows to strike and then disappeared back into anonymity. Their aim was to undermine confidence in the government's ability to maintain law and order by sowing fear among citizens. In turn, governments often imposed harsh security measures to protect their citizens from terrorism.

He said his Government attached great importance to the Declarations of 1994 and 1996 on measures to eliminate international terrorism and other measures adopted by the United Nations on the matter. The adoption of today's resolution contributed to the ongoing efforts to eliminate terrorism. Namibia was against all acts of terrorism, regardless of motivation, perpetrator or victim. There should be no exemption in the war against terrorism.

SERGEI LAVROV (Russian Federation) said his delegation had taken the initiative to convene today’s meeting guided by the perception of the global threat that terrorism brought with it. His country’s principled approach to combating terrorism in all its forms had been reaffirmed repeatedly. An effective fight against terrorism must be based on a solid foundation of international law. The United Nations was continuing its work to build up its joint anti-terrorist potential, including the establishment of a universal treaty system.

Where terrorism was becoming a serious challenge to international peace and security, the Council should be actively involved in the international community’s efforts, he said. It should not replace the General Assembly and other United Nations organs, but rather interact with them on the basis of its competence within the Charter. Today's resolution was an anti-terrorism manifesto, defining such priority areas as interaction, which included mutual assistance to protect citizens, halt terrorist acts, investigate them and prosecute perpetrators. The text proclaimed the Council's firm intention to erect obstacles to threats to peace and security originating in terrorism. The adoption of today's resolution made a tangible contribution to creating, under the auspices of the United Nations, a united front to fight international terrorism.

Action

The Security Council then adopted resolution 1269 (1999) unanimously.

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