17 February 2000


Press Release
L/2944



AD HOC COMMITTEE ON TERRORISM HEARS REPORT ON CONSULTATIONS ON DRAFT CONVENTION ON SUPPRESSION OF ACTS OF NUCLEAR TERRORISM

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At a brief meeting this morning, the General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on terrorism heard a progress report on consultations carried out by its Coordinator on the draft convention on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.

In her oral report, Coordinator Cate Steains (Australia) said that the differences in position still being expressed by delegations had led her to conclude that the time was not yet ripe for open-ended informal consultations to reach agreement on a text. The issue the Ad Hoc Committee had been grappling with concerned a provision on whether or not the official acts of armed forces of States should be included in the text.

The representative of South Africa, speaking as Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, said they had made their concerns on the text clear on several occasions but were willing to continue working with the Coordinator. It was an important issue, but there had been insufficient time to give it the attention it deserved.

The 20-article draft convention was introduced by the Russian Federation at the second session of the Ad Hoc Committee in February 1998. Its provisions cover 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.

Included in the definition of the act of nuclear terrorism is the unauthorized receipt -- through fraud, theft or forcible seizure -- of any nuclear material, radioactive substances, nuclear installation, nuclear explosive or radiation-dissemination devices belonging to a State party. Demands by threat or use of force, or by any other form of intimidation for the release or transfer of such material, would also be regarded as acts of nuclear terrorism.

Established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996, the Ad Hoc Committee is mandated to address means of further developing a comprehensive legal framework for conventions dealing with international terrorism.

The Ad Hoc Committee will meet again at 12 noon on Friday, 18 February, to adopt its report for the current session, which began last Monday.


Ad Hoc Committee on Asembly - 2 - Press Release L/2944 Resolution 51/210 17 February 2000 16th Meeting (AM)

Committee Work Programme

The Ad Hoc Committee Established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996 met this morning to hear a progress report on consultations on the draft convention on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.

Statements

CATE STEAINS (Australia), Coordinator for consultations on the draft convention on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, recalled that the outstanding issue the Committee had been grappling with was the “scope provision” in the text. The provision related to whether official acts of States military forces should, or should not, be included within the scope of the convention.

She said that taking into account the views and proposals of delegations, she had put together a non-paper in an attempt to provide a basis for moving consideration of the issue forward. The non-paper had no status other than as a vehicle to generate discussion. All other proposals remained on the table and she was open to others that might come up.

The differences in position that were still being expressed had led her to conclude that the time was not yet ripe to convene open-ended informal consultations to reach agreement on a text.

She also said that during her consultations a number of delegations had expressed the view that it would not be possible to resolve the “scope issue” simply through continued drafting exercises. That view was explained, she said, on the grounds that the differences on the substance were too fundamental and polarized for a compromise drafting solution to be found. Others had said that it would be of value to continue consultations.

She recommended to the Ad Hoc Committee that she continue to explore possible ways to resolve the problem. Should the Committee agree, she would carry on the consultations during the inter-sessional period. She again appealed to delegations to share their views with her.

JOANN SCHNEEBERGER (South Africa), speaking as Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, said there had been ample opportunity to meet to discuss issues before the Ad Hoc Committee. The non-aligned countries had made their concerns clear on several occasions, but they were willing to continue working with the Coordinator. It was an important issue, but there had been insufficient time to give the issue the attention it deserved. She requested that more time be set aside for the consideration of the proposed high-level conference on nuclear terrorism.

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