14 February 2000


Press Release
L/2940



GENERAL ASSEMBLY'S AD HOC COMMITTEE ON TERRORISM BEGINS FOURTH SESSION

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The General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on terrorism began its fourth session this morning, with an appeal by its new Chairman urging cooperation from delegations to enable the Committee complete its tasks.

During its session, which ends next Friday, the Committee is expected to consider the outstanding issues relating to the draft anti-nuclear terrorism instrument, and the question of convening a high-level United Nations conference to formulate an organized response by the international community to terrorism.

Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka), who was elected Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee this morning, urged delegations to ensure that the Committee discharged its responsibilities in a timely and businesslike manner. The international community demanded no less, as the scourge of terrorism continued unabated, wreaked untold havoc and suffering on innocent people and threatened the survival of mankind.

He said the 1997 International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism represented significant achievements in the struggle against terrorism. The number of contracting States to those two Conventions had steadily grown. Of the 58 States that had signed the 1997 Convention, five had ratified it. Twelve States had signed the 1999 Convention.

Also this morning, the Ad Hoc Committee elected Cate Steains (Australia), a Vice-Chairperson, and Ivo Janda (Czech Republic) as Rapporteur, and adopted its agenda and programme of work. It decided to request the Secretariat to prepare a paper listing technical issues which would arise in connection with a high-level international conference on terrorism.

Vaclav Mikulka, Director of the Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs, opening the session on behalf of the United Nations Legal Counsel, recalled the terms of the Ad Hoc Committee’s agenda as outlined in General Assembly 54/110 of 9 December. The Assembly asked the Committee to continue to elaborate a draft international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism with a view to completing the instrument. The


Ad Hoc Committee on Assembly - 2 - Press Release L/2940 Resolution 51/210 14 February 2000 12th Meeting (AM)

Committee should also address the means of further developing a comprehensive legal framework of conventions dealing with international terrorism, and address the question of convening a high-level conference under United Nations auspices.

In another action this morning, the Ad Hoc Committee admitted a representative of the International Police Organization (INTERPOL) as an observer.

Ms. Steains, speaking in her capacity as Coordinator on the draft convention, said the positions of the delegations were not sufficiently close and she intended to continue bilateral consultations. She urged delegates to discuss with her their views on the draft convention. The Committee had an enormous task ahead, and she hoped that intensified efforts would allow it to move the issue forward.

Established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996, the Ad Hoc Committee is open to all Member States of the United Nations, specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In its resolution 53/108 of 8 December 1998, the General Assembly recommended that the Ad Hoc Committee should continue its work during the Assembly’s fifty-fourth session within the framework of a working group of the Sixth Committee (Legal).

At its first meeting on 27 September 1999, the then Chairman of the working group of the Sixth Committee, Philippe Kirsch (Canada), said that while some consultations had been held on the draft convention prior to the meeting of the working group, broader consultations were required to find an acceptable solution to the remaining issues concerning its scope. At a subsequent meeting, the Chairman indicated that he remained convinced that a solution to problems related to the draft convention could be resolved if the political will existed.

The draft convention, originally proposed by the Russian Federation, is intended to fill the gaps left by existing anti-terrorism instruments. It seeks to cover, to the broadest extent possible, targets, forms and manifestations of acts of nuclear terrorism. It envisions a wide range of measures for combating nuclear terrorism, including post-crisis measures, such as the return of a broad range of radioactive material and devices to the rightful owners.

The Ad Hoc Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. today to begin its debate.

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