02/10/2001
Press Release
GA/9922



Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Plenary

14th Meeting (AM)


SPEAKERS CALL FOR COMPREHENSIVE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON TERRORISM,


IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE


As the General Assembly continued its debate on international terrorism this morning, the representative of Guatemala called for a comprehensive international convention against terrorism, since neither norms nor measures on either national or regional levels had been sufficient to prevent the crimes of 11 September.


He was one of 15 speakers this morning, a number of them calling for a comprehensive convention.  The Assembly also heard calls for an additional comprehensive convention against acts of nuclear terrorism.  Some, including Libya’s representative who spoke also for the Arab Group, called for a special General Assembly session on the subject.  Nearly all speakers emphasized that the United Nations was the natural forum for countering this common scourge, and the most appropriate body for dealing with it. 


Yemen’s representative said the Assembly was in a unique position to develop a comprehensive convention that would re-enforce existing instruments and correct loopholes hindering implementation.  Even the recently adopted Security Council resolution lacked a definition of terrorism or terrorist acts, and that omission could hinder work of the committee monitoring implementation of national and international measures and regimes.


Calling for States to abide by the principle of “proportionate response”, Malaysia’s representative also stressed that the comprehensive convention should be based on a clear and universally agreed definition of terrorism that differentiated between acts of terrorism against innocent civilian populations and legitimate struggles for national liberation.  He said United Nations resolutions and other international declarations should be the guidelines.


Strongly condemning the heinous terrorist attack on the United States as without any possible justification, the Permanent Observer for Palestine offered condolences and welcomed the position that combating terrorism was neither a battle against Islam nor against Arabs.  He added, however, that the international community must understand that a hundred years of injustice in the region had created negative feelings among Muslims and Arabs.  There was a sense the values established by the West did not apply to them.  He called for the Palestinian issue to be justly resolved, thus ending a source of huge anger and despair in the region.


Affirming that the United States had suffered a most grievous assault, Ireland’s Minister of Foreign affairs asked:  who could responsibly argue that the United States did not have the right to defend itself?  Doing so, in a targeted and proportionate manner, would deliver justice on those who had taken part in the outrages and who continued to threaten international peace and security.  However, the Afghan people had already suffered from the Taliban, and should not suffer the consequences of the Taliban's defiance.  The international community was right to mobilize for dealing with the worsening humanitarian situation facing the people.


Pakistan’s representative also pointed out that, despite their diversity, all Member States had condemned the terrorist attacks on the United States and had resolved to work together to not only bring the perpetrators to justice but also to prevent and suppress terrorism.  He also recalled that his country was host to Afghan refugees and stressed the worsening humanitarian situation there.


Madagascar’s representative said a general convention should emphasize specific actions that should be undertaken in certain areas, such as investigations -- where developing countries might need help.  The issue of a world fund to combat terrorism should be placed on the agenda of the Assembly’s next special session.


Colombia’s representative called for an office, programme, fund or agency with appropriate funding, to coordinate efforts aimed at preventing, combating and eradicating international terrorism.  He also called for a consensus on a common definition of international terrorism, and said it should enunciate a policy of zero tolerance of international terrorism.


Also speaking this morning were the representatives of the Republic of Korea, Sudan, Iceland, Japan, Venezuela, Yugoslavia and Colombia.


The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue its debate on international terrorism.     


Background


The General Assembly met this morning to continue its debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism.  The debate, which has more than 160 participants, is expected to last through Friday.


For more background information, see Press Release GA/9919 of 1 October.


Statements


GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala) said his country was a microcosm of the world in the socioeconomic range of its population, the breadth of technological spread and the cultural mix of modernity and tradition.  The tensions arising from such antipodal relationships had led to violence, intolerance and terrorism in the past.  The country had thus learned that, however legitimate to its adherents, no social claim justified the taking of innocent lives.


Guatemala had developed long-term policies to deal with terrorism at the national level, he said.  First, it had learned that violence against innocent people must be rejected unequivocally.  In addition, the fight against terrorism must be a means of ensuring the values enshrined in the Charter, including the promotion of tolerance and diversity in human society.  Therefore, the fight against terrorism must never be a means of encouraging actions against particular groups.  In addition, combating terrorism involved the fighting of other crimes, such as money laundering and the illegal arms trade -- scourges which were linked to terrorism at an increasingly international level.


Further, he said, the fight against terrorism required actions at the level of each country within a multilateral framework in which both regional and international organizations had a fundamental role.  At the same time, the large body of international norms embodied in conventions, protocols and declarations, must be applied with greater rigour and effectiveness.  And finally, since the body of norms developed over thirty years, as complemented by country and regional measures, had been insufficient to prevent the crimes witnessed on 11 September, a comprehensive convention against terrorism must be adopted, along with an additional one against acts of nuclear terrorism.


As the Secretary-General had pointed out, he concluded, the United Nations was the natural forum for countering the common scourge.  It was also the most appropriate body for dealing with it.


ABDALLA SALEH Al-ASHTAL (Yemen) said his country, which had suffered so long from terrorist attacks, condemned terrorist activities and was committed to the international efforts to eradicate them.  He supported the adoption of the recent action-oriented Security Council resolution against terrorism. An important aspect of the resolution was the establishment of a committee to monitor implementation of anti-terrorist initiatives, including the issuance of laws and the elaboration of national measures and regimes. 


While he acknowledged that the resolution broke relatively new ground for the Council, he stressed that it contained a loophole that would affect implementation:  the resolution was not based on an acknowledged definition of terrorism or terrorist acts.  That omission might hinder the work of the monitoring committee.  He also said that the horrific events of 11 September proved that terrorism was a global phenomenon that did not recognize religious, cultural or national boundaries.  It was a mistake, therefore, to direct retaliatory actions against any particular State of religion.  He denounced retaliatory acts against Arabs or Muslims around the world. 


Yemen, he continued, did its utmost to combat terrorism and had taken all possible legislative and administrative measures to that effect.  The country had also made efforts to cooperate regionally and internationally to combat that scourge.  It was party to virtually all international conventions and instruments against terrorism.  Laws in Yemen reflected its commitment to the cause, particularly those adopted during the past several years which strictly punished terrorist acts, such as kidnapping, among other criminal activities.  In Yemen, those crimes carried severe punishments, including execution in some cases.


He said that the terrorist acts committed by Israel should be denounced and condemned.  He called upon the international community and the United Nations to provide appropriate protection for the Palestinian people.  He also said that the Assembly had a unique opportunity to work towards the identification of a comprehensive international convention on terrorism in order to reinforce existing instruments and correct lingering loopholes that might hinder their implementation.  He looked forward to a world of peace and prosperity for all people in which respect for human rights was of the highest value.


SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said that, in light of the fact that terrorism had become one of the principle threats to international peace and security, it was imperative that the international community move forward to ensure that terrorists did not achieve their odious goals.  Particularly pressing was the need to prevent terrorist attacks using commercial airlines and other means.  The Assembly was an important forum for pursuing a cooperative international effort to prevent and suppress the terrorist threat.


The most crucial thing was to maintain unity, standing together to demonstrate unswerving resolve against those who had committed acts of terrorism, he said.  He called on Member States to work together to ensure the early adoption of a comprehensive convention and full implementation of that and other relevant conventions.  He also wished to see divergent views on the draft International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism resolved as swiftly as possible.  It was equally important for Member States to translate international norms into specific domestic laws and regulations.  It was particularly urgent to take effective measures to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorists and terrorist organizations.


He supported regional cooperation for the prevention of terrorism, as a complement to the United Nations’ efforts to suppress terrorism and raise public awareness of the terrorist threat, he said.  The synergy created through the pursuit of both regional and international strategies would be instrumental in the formation of a successful collective effort to suppress international terrorism.  His Government would implement Security Council Resolutions 1368 and 1373 (2001), and was more than willing to take part in the collective undertakings of the international community.


ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan) condemned the heinous act of terrorism against New York on 11 September, and extended condolences to America and to the families of those who lost their lives, including firemen, police and medical staff.  His country’s condemnation was derived from its cultural heritage and values, as well its commitment to combat terrorism.  Sudan had signed all international conventions on eliminating terrorism and occupied a place in the forefront of States in its determination to combat these acts.


He renewed Sudan’s commitment to established principles against terrorism, espoused by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the African Group and the Non-aligned Movement.  He opposed Israel’s exploitation and oppression of the Palestinian people, stating that terrorism was a criminal scourge not to be linked to any culture, race or religion.  The act of terrorism on 11 September had nothing whatsoever to do with Islam.  He appreciated statements made by President Bush and American and European officials that the war against terrorism in no way meant a war against Islam.


He stressed that Sudan would never be a haven for terrorist groups and would fully cooperate in any effort to eliminate terrorism.  It would support international laws and General Assembly resolutions prohibiting terrorism, the instigation of terrorist acts, the condoning of terrorist acts, or the protection of perpetrators.  He called on all Member States to respond positively to the relevant resolutions, and to commit themselves fully to their spirit and letter, in combating terrorism in all its forms.


BRIAN COWEN, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, said that acts of barbarous terrorism, and the determined international response which must necessarily follow, did not, as some had suggested, represent a conflict between civilizations or a religious war.  International terrorism struck at universal values, including that of religious tolerance, on which the United Nations was founded.  He added that the defeat of terrorism would take time and could not be achieved in the absence of a total commitment by governments and without the widest possible co-operation between them.  Reaching agreements on conventions in this Assembly was clearly not enough, and neither was signing them.  The record of signature, ratification and implementation had been disappointing, and this had to move right to the front of the agenda, but it was by actions alone that one could demonstrate a determination to succeed.  


The United Nations must approach international terrorism on three levels, he said.  Firstly, it must act in accordance with resolution 1368, to bring perpetrators, organizers, and sponsors of the attacks of 11 September to justice and to prevent further atrocities.  Secondly, its Member States must combine their efforts in a longer-term initiative to defeat the monster of international terrorism, by choking off its funds, by cutting its supply of munitions and technical support, and by denying it the bases from which it planned and prepared its actions.  Thirdly, efforts must be redoubled to put an end to the many conflicts and injustices, which, while they could never justify the horrors of 11 September, were exploited by the terrorists to garner support for their warped philosophies. 


He stressed that the United States had suffered a most grievous assault -- one of a long series of terrorist attacks against United States targets.  He asked if anyone could responsibly argue that the United States did not have the right to defend itself, in a targeted and proportionate manner, by bringing to justice those who planned, perpetrated and assisted in these outrages and who continued to threaten international peace and security.  Ireland was not a member of a military alliance, but Ireland was not neutral in the struggle against international terrorism.  How, he asked, could any member of the United Nations abstain from joining a collective effort to confront what was a global threat to international peace and security.


It was essential to remember that the Afghan people, who had already suffered terribly from the effects of drought, civil war and political instability, were not to blame for the actions of the Taliban, and must not suffer the consequences of the Taliban's defiance.  The international community was rightly mobilizing to deal with the worsening humanitarian situation facing the people of Afghanistan.  Ireland had announced the allocation of a further sum of over $3 million in response to the United Nations Donor Alert.


LILA RATSIFANDRIHAMANANA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Madagascar, said all countries must act together against the scourge of terrorism, with the United Nations playing the preeminent role in accordance with the pledges made a year ago at the Millennium Assembly.  Madagascar had acceded to a number of conventions against terrorism, including suppression of the financing of terrorism and the convention on preventing and combating terrorism that had been adopted by the Organization of African Unity (OAU).


Her country had long supported the declaration of the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace, she continued.  The spread of terrorism must be countered by a general convention based on the 12 instruments already in existence.  The general Convention should emphasize specific actions that countries could implement in the context of a worldwide effort, in areas such as investigations and police interventions -- where there was room for improvement and where developing countries needed help.  A global fund to combat terrorism should be established and operate like other United Nations funds.  The issue should be placed on the Assembly’s agenda.


In conclusion, she said globalization had increased the development divide between the south and the north.  This was leading to problems, especially at the social and economic levels.  The top priority was to eradicate tension and conflict.  The recent meeting between Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres gave hope for rapid progress in the Middle East.  The growth of tolerance between people would be a sacred development contributing to a climate of trust and calm.  No religion should be an excuse for criminality, and all must learn to listen to promote mutual understanding.


HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said his Prime Minister had called for the convening of a world conference of leaders to discuss international terrorism.  While he understood the reasons for the ongoing planning to hunt down terrorist groups and stop terrorism, he was against the use of force that would result in the punishment of innocent civilians.  Retaliatory actions through the use of force might provoke retaliation.  The measures that were now being contemplated would not solve the problem as long as the oppression of peoples in several parts of the world, particularly in Palestine, remained unresolved.  Given the enormity of the challenge confronting the international community, the convening of a United Nations conference would serve the purpose of galvanizing collective international effort, based on a broad consensus at the highest possible level.


States needed to reflect on their own practice in dealing with internal security situations, he said.  Actions carried out by security apparatus of States, which created widespread fear and apprehension among civilian populations, were as inhumane and as devastating as any other form of terrorism.  States must be guided by the principle of "proportionate response".  That was especially relevant in the context of the current situation in the occupied Palestinian Territory, where excessive force had been used to intimidate a population fighting for its rights.


In crafting a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, it was important to arrive at a clear and universally-agreed definition of terrorism, he said.  Acts of pure terrorism, involving attacks against innocent civilian populations, should be differentiated from legitimate struggles of peoples under colonial, alien or foreign domination for self-determination and national liberation, as recognized by resolutions of the United Nations and other international declarations.  Any discussion of international terrorism would not be complete without a discussion of the threat of nuclear terrorism.  While the most effective way of preventing acts of nuclear terrorism lay in the total elimination of nuclear weapons, the early adoption of an international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism would be an important first step towards eliminating that threat.


THORSTEINN INGOLFSSON (Iceland) said that to deal with the threat of international terrorism effectively, a comprehensive and long-term approach beyond military reprisals -- however necessary the use of force may be -- was required.  As a global problem, terrorism, including its networks and resources, would require the undivided attention of the international community. 


He underlined the important and historical decision of the North Atlantic Alliance to invoke article 5 of the Washington Treaty.  An attack on the United States had thus become an attack on each and every member of an Alliance committed to collective defense.  The Alliance was prepared for a long campaign against international terrorism, in cooperation with its partners.  The importance of the consolidation of efforts was highlighted.  All organizations including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe, and the European Union, needed to react with swift determination to fight international terrorism.  At the national level, Iceland was in the process of taking the necessary steps to become party to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and to speedily ratify the already-signed International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings.  Iceland was also closely cooperating with the European Union in adopting and revising its legislation to facilitate the suppression of international terrorism.


Terrorist acts could never be justified, he said.  They were always unacceptable acts of violence and those who suffered were innocent civilians.  He urged the United Nations to, as vigilantly as ever, continue addressing the problems that contributed to the desperation, alienation and hopelessness that those behind terrorism turned to their favour.


SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said despite the broad diversity which marked the United Nations membership, reaction to the tragic events of 11 September had been swift and spontaneous.  Member States had condemned the terrorist attacks on the United States and had resolved to work together to not only bring the perpetrators to justice but also to prevent and suppress terrorism.  The Security Council and the Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on 12 September, adding the efforts of the United Nations to the international coalition against that abominable phenomenon.  Pakistan, a country which abhorred terrorism and deplored all violence, did not hesitate to support that international consensus.


As the international community grappled with one of the worst challenges facing humanity today, he said, it would be important to ensure that efforts at all levels were not merely cosmetic.  Bandages would not heal wounds rooted in the injustices of systems and societies. At the same time, attempts to bring the perpetrators of terrorism to justice must focus on the causes that gave rise to the hatred and violence.  Crimes must be punished, and disease must be treated at its roots.


He said that international conventions and resolutions were necessary as a matter of prevention and deterrence.  Further, the freezing of assets, the denial of safe havens for terrorists, and information sharing were important steps in controlling terrorist acts.  For long term solutions, the global community must unearth the source of the problem.  Terrorists -- the faceless enemy lurking at societies fringe, fearful, frustrated and disillusioned by a hatred fed by poverty and ignorance -- would continue to haunt humankind unless the root causes of terrorism were addressed.  Those causes included, among others, the inequality of societies, exploitation of the downtrodden and the denial of fundamental human rights.


He went on to say that the universal obligation to fight terrorism in all its forms must not deflect the international community’s efforts to ensure a just, lasting and honorable settlement of the Palestine and Kashmir disputes.  It was time for courageous decisions, for correcting historic wrongs and for redressing endemic injustices.  In the face of the current crises, Pakistan -- already home to the world’s largest population of refugees -- feared a humanitarian tragedy as millions of Afghans fled their homes.  In the wake of the Secretary-General’s humanitarian appeal, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had issued warnings about the magnitude of the pending crisis.  The international community’s response would be a true test of its ability and sense of moral responsibility.


YUKIO SATOH (Japan) expressed sorrow and sympathy for the victims of the recent terrorist attacks.  Japan considered such attacks crimes against humanity and a challenge to freedom and democracy.  It would make every possible effort, in cooperation with the international community, to bring those responsible to justice, and strongly supported recent Security Council resolutions on the matter.  It was necessary to keep in mind, however, that the adversaries were not Moslem people or Arab Countries, but terrorists.


Of grave concern was the fact that, despite anti-terrorism efforts of recent years, terrorist acts had increased, he said.  Today, all countries were threatened, so all must act as one to eliminate the threat.  In order for the General Assembly to create an effective legal framework for that international struggle against terrorists and those who assist them, all twelve relevant conventions must be universally ratified and observed.  Japan was nearing the completion of that task itself. 


The draft on nuclear terrorism, he said, as well as the comprehensive convention on international terrorism, should be quickly adopted, through the application of cooperation, wisdom and flexibility.  Japan supported the initiatives of Russia and India in that regard.  Cooperation and policy coordination should also be promoted at various levels.  Japan had been addressing the issue with its Group of Eight (G-8) partners, as well as with regional groups in the Asia-Pacific, Latin American and Middle East areas.  It was now determined to engage even more actively in cooperative efforts to eliminate terrorism.


MILOS ALCALAY (Venezuela) expressed his deepest sorrow at the terrorist acts against New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.  These were criminal and abominable actions, which were acts of aggression against all countries of the world.  There had never been such unanimous support in the United Nations as that given to the United States on 12 September, at an emergency meeting of the Security Council.  The Secretary-General had observed at that time that the Organization must repudiate any act of terrorism, regardless of ethnic, racial or other considerations used to justify it.


Security Council resolution 1373, which ranged from combating the financing of terrorism to the relations between terrorism and other international crimes, was an important basis for coordination cooperation against the scourge.  The attacks of 11 September must alert the international community to the unforeseen consequences that an attack with weapons of mass destruction could cause.  The Organization must send a clear message to the terrorists that their actions would not go unpunished.


The fight against terrorism must be guided by the principles of international law, he said, and the United Nations was the proper framework for cooperation in the struggle.  But governments must show their political will by signing and ratifying international instruments against terrorism.  He noted that it was also necessary to wage a parallel struggle against hunger, disease and lack of housing.  In the spirit of the Millenium Summit, the international community must spare no effort to find a more just and more humane international order.


DEJAN SAHOVIC (Yugoslavia) said that an organized and united international response to international terrorism required uniform standards, as well as global, regional and national resources.  In order to provide such a response to terrorism irrespective of the place and form of its occurrence, uniform standards were needed, as well as global, regional and national resources.  It was of utmost importance that all States took the necessary measures to ensure that terrorists were denied financing, support and safe haven.  It was essential that an ever greater number of countries accepted the twelve existing universal international conventions regulating various aspects of the struggle against terrorism, in order to strengthen international cooperation in that field.


He stated that, unfortunately, his country had considerable experience in combating terrorism.  Its territory, people, diplomats and missions abroad had been frequent targets of terrorism.  Last year, terrorism had escalated in southern Serbia in the Ground Safety Zone at the administrative boundary with Kosovo and Metohija.  He added that his country had also been plagued by serious problems in this respect in Kosovo and Metohija -- the autonomous province of the Yugoslav constituent Republic of Serbia now administered by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).  The situation was very grave.  The adoption in June this year of the Regulation on the Prohibition of Terrorism and Related Offences was a step in the right direction.  His Government was ready to offer all necessary help in order to facilitate the implementation of the above-mentioned regulation, as well as to provide other assistance in suppressing terrorist activities.


Regrettably, terrorists and terrorism had a wider presence in his region, he said.  It was closely connected with transnational organized crime, human and drug trafficking, money laundering and other similar activities.  The stability of the entire south-east of Europe was threatened by these elements.  Evidently, there was a need to enhance coordination and cooperation at the subregional and regional level in order to face this challenge.  It was essential to look into ways and means to prevent the flow of finances and arms to terrorists, to stop them from crossing borders, to share relevant information -- in a nutshell, to organize a regional response to terrorism within a wider global framework.  Yugoslavia stood ready to render a constructive contribution in this regard.


ABUZED OMAR DORDA (Libya) speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, expressed condolences to the city of New York and the people of the United States.  The group condemned all acts of terrorism and deplored groups that practiced such acts.  It was important for all to remember that Arab nations and their peoples were some of the first States targeted by terrorist acts carried out by extremist groups.  It was also important to recall that Arab nations had called on some States that harboured such fundamentalist groups to deliver the leadership so that they may be brought to justice, but those demands had been ignored.


The Group wished to emphasize its affirmation of the right of Arab Palestine people to freedom and independence, he said.  Furthermore, it would affirm that, until that goal had been achieved, the Palestine people had the full right to resist occupation.  The Arab Palestinian people were victims of modern terrorism.  Their land was occupied, their property confiscated or destroyed and their sons and daughters displaced, imprisoned or tortured.  Indeed they were subject to the most brutal abrogation of their human rights.  The Group stressed its determination to confront any attempt to classify resistance to occupation as an act of terrorism.  Only hatred could be engendered by such repressive attitudes, for freedom was indivisible.


He said Islam was a religion of truth, justice and equity, which made no distinction between race or color.  It was regrettable then, that Islam was being degraded by some world leaders and in the mass media.  That trend would result only in creating an atmosphere that fostered religious and cultural intolerance and the creation of an atmosphere in the Muslim world that was conducive to sympathy with extremist groups.


The Group called for concerted efforts at all levels to combat terrorism, to ensure security for all.  It called upon the United Nations to assume its responsibilities toward the Palestinian cause, highlighting the importance of combating terrorism practiced by the occupation forces against the Palestinian people, the Lebanese people and the Syrian citizens in the Golan Heights.  The Group also called on States which harbored terrorists of Arab nationalities to surrender them, so they might be brought to justice.


Speaking in his national capacity, Mr. Dora reiterated that Libya had been severely affected by terrorism in various forms, including armed aggression, state terrorism and -- perhaps most importantly -- economic terrorism.  Some powers had imposed a comprehensive boycott under the pretext that Libya supported terrorism.  That pretext had neither been corroborated or proven.  He said that Arabs and Muslims were also deeply offended by statements in the media that they were without question connected to acts of terrorism.  He urged that this current trend be swiftly contained, particularly as Zionist terror had never been attributed to a religion and Timothy McVeigh had never been religiously “labelled.”


He said that foreign occupation was the ugliest form of terrorism, and the most brutal terrorist occupation was that which was practiced by the Palestinian people.  He reiterated his country’s 1992 invitation to convene an international conference or Assembly special session to study the issue of terrorism.  That would make it possible to identify an accurate definition of what constituted terrorism -– a definition not dictated by subjective, whimsical or selfish classifications.  Occupation should be at the top of the list of terrorist acts the international community should confront and eliminate.  He added that Libya had become party to numerous international and regional conventions and agreements in order to combat terrorism, and was now in the process of completing necessary procedures required to accede to the remaining relevant instruments.


ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said in his country, one manifestation of terrorism was supported by another criminal activity with global repercussions -- the illicit drug problem.  Experience had taught that the international community's fight against the global problems of drugs -- a fight in which the principle of shared responsibility had been accepted -- was a critical element in the fight against terrorism.  Similarly, success in the fight against terrorism would depend on the extent to which the principle of shared responsibility was implemented.


He said the scale of the terrorist threat to peace and security required the Organization to establish a particular responsibility through an office, programme, fund or agency.  This should be established at the highest level, with appropriate funding, to coordinate efforts aimed at preventing, combating and eradicating international terrorism.  For many years, consensus on a common definition of international terrorism could not be reached, and differences of opinion on this definition must be overcome.  Terrorism must, for once and for all, be isolated from its political context in order for it to be combated for what it was;  namely a grave crime against innocent persons.  The time had come to enunciate a policy of zero tolerance of international terrorism.


The attacks of 11 September had not only brought death and destruction, but had also created a new economic reality, he said.  The multilateral banks must act in a concerted and coordinated way to contain the economic damage cause by terrorist acts, particularly in developing countries.  On the other hand, it was essential to deprive international terrorism of its sources of funding.  It used similar financial networks to those used for the traffic of illicit drugs and arms.  He called for a firm fight against the money laundering that fed all those grave problems.


      NASSER AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer for Palestine, strongly condemned the heinous terrorist act which took place on 11 September in the United States, stating there could be no justification for it whatsoever.  He expressed his heartfelt condolences to the American Government and people, particularly the families of the victims. He welcomed the strong international reaction against terrorism and supported efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.  He noted that the United States had strived to form an international coalition to fight international terrorism, but stressed that the United Nations must play a decisive role.


He welcomed the clear position of United States and Western officials that combating terrorism was neither a battle against Islam nor Arabs.  That was an important issue which needed to be constantly reiterated.  The reasons for the diabolic act could include a rejection of the West and its culture, which had nothing to do with Arabism, Islam -- or indeed any logic.  But the international community must also consider the negative feelings of millions of Arabs and Muslims towards the United States and other Western States.  These feelings grew stronger every day, veering towards extremism.


The main reason for those feelings could be what ordinary people in the region had witnessed regarding Palestine over almost a hundred years, he said.  It was an unbelievable story of gross and severe injustice through long years of pain, suffering, disappointment, and of unbearable conditions.  All of that led ordinary people in the region to conclude that the system of values and yardstick, basically established by the West, was not applied to them, perhaps because they were Arabs and Muslims.  The issue of Palestine must be justly solved, thus ending a source of huge anger and despair in the region, as part of the international battle against terrorism.


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