03/10/2002
Press Release
GA/L/3210



Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Sixth Committee

9th Meeting (AM)


ASSEMBLY'S LEGAL COMMITTEE IS TOLD FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM SHOULD GO


TO ROOT CAUSES, NOT CONTRAVENE HUMAN RIGHTS, DEMOCRATIC VALUES


Debate Continues on Measures to Meet International Concerns


Terrorism must be attacked at the root causes in a way that preserved human rights and democratic values, the Sixth Committee (Legal) was told this morning as it continued its debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism.


The representative of Yugoslavia said repression was not the only method against terrorism.  Also, its deeper causes should be identified, especially the socio-economic ones.  They should then be addressed and eliminated, he added.


The representative of Nigeria said the struggle against terrorism should be carried out in keeping with international human rights obligations.  It should not be used to justify the suppression of legitimate dissent.  While there was no justification for terrorism, there was also no justification for using any means to fight it, Mexico’s representative agreed, saying that too much progress had been made in advancing human rights for it to be sacrificed.


The representative of the United States said no nation was immune from the threat of terrorism.  Until it could be shown that the costs outweighed the benefits, extremists in every region would increasingly use terrorism to advance their agendas.


Cuba’s representative said it was up to the United Nations to make the global struggle against terrorism legitimate.  The United Nations Charter provided the conditions to fight the scourge.


Statements were also made by the representatives of Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Georgia, Canada, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Iran, Lebanon, Poland, Mozambique, Yemen and India.


Statements in exercise of the right of reply were made by the representatives of the United States and Cuba.


The Sixth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, 4 October, to continue its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism.


Background


The Sixth Committee (Legal) meets this morning to conclude its debate on measures to combat international terrorism (for background information see press release GA/L/3208 of 2 October), and then to take up the report on the 2002 session of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (document A/57/33).  The session took place at Headquarters from 18 to 28 March.


The report includes the Special Committee’s recommendations to the General Assembly, covering, among other issues, implementation of United Nations Charter provisions on assistance to third countries affected by sanctions, strengthening of the Organization’s role in the maintenance of international peace and security and the prevention and settlement of disputes between States. 


The Special Committee recommended that the General Assembly, during its current session, continue to consider, appropriately, the results of the meeting of the ad hoc expert group which developed a methodology for assisting third States affected by sanctions.


A report of the Secretary-General on the question (document A/57/165) highlights the measures for further improvement of the procedures and working methods of the Security Council and its sanctions Committees related to assistance to third States.  It reviews the capacity and modalities within the Secretariat for implementing the intergovernmental mandates and for addressing the main findings, including recommendations of the ad hoc expert group meeting.  An addendum to the report (document A/57/165/Add.1) reviews recent developments on the role of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Committee for Programme and Coordination on assistance to the affected third States.   


During the Special Committee’s discussion of the sanctions question, some delegations said that other aspects of the problem should be considered.  They listed, among others, the regulation and calculation of the indirect damage caused by the imposition of sanctions, the scale to be applied for assessing such damage and the assistance to be given.


On other issues, the Special Committee said there should be more discussions of measures to revitalize the General Assembly as the chief deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the Organization.


One of the Special Committee’s working groups agreed upon a draft resolution by which the General Assembly would urge States to make the most effective use of existing procedures and methods to resolve disputes peacefully, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.  The Assembly would urge the continued enhancement of the concrete steps taken by the Secretariat to build and improve United Nations capacity to respond effectively and efficiently in matters relating to dispute prevention.  States would be encouraged to nominate suitably qualified persons willing to provide fact-finding services, for inclusion in a register set up by the Secretariat.


On the question of the Trusteeship Council’s future, Malta referred to its earlier proposal that the Council be assigned a new role to act as a guardian and trustee of the global concerns and common heritage of mankind.  It reiterated its view that a revised Trusteeship Council, by coordinating the relevant work of other bodies, would usefully complement their activities.  Some members stressed that there was no urgent need to address the issue at the current stage when there was no consensus on the reform of the Organization and relevant amendments to the Charter.


Some delegations commended and further encouraged the ongoing efforts of the Secretary-General to reduce the backlog in the publication of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council.


On the Special Committee’s working methods, the view was expressed that, while there was room for improvement, delegations must show political will to advance the Committee’s work on the subject.  Some cautioned against the addition of new topics to the Special Committee’s already full agenda.


During a general debate, the revitalization of the role of the General Assembly and improvement of coordination among United Nations bodies, particularly between the Security Council and the General Assembly, was highlighted.  


Statements


HAJI ZULHASNAN RAFIQUE (Malaysia) reiterated his country’s commitment to comprehensively fight the menace of terrorism at the domestic, regional and international levels.  He said Malaysia believed that in the fight against terrorism, the norms and principles of international law should be adhered to and that the United Nations should lead that effort.  A clear understanding of what constituted terrorism was essential in the fight against it.  Malaysia emphasized the importance of an internationally agreed definition of terrorism and terrorist acts under United Nations auspices.


Malaysia shared the concerns expressed by some delegations on the need to differentiate terrorism and terrorist acts from the legitimate struggle and resistance of peoples under colonial or alien domination and foreign occupation for national liberation and self-determination.  The United Nations had recognized the legitimacy of that struggle, he said.  It should not be forgotten that the acts of terrorism being perpetrated today were rooted in political and economic grievances which had not been addressed. 


Malaysia believed that the menace could not be overcome by force alone, and that a comprehensive strategy including political, economic, diplomatic and social measures were required.   


MADINA JARBUSSYNOVA (Kazakhstan) said her country had contributed to the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States Anti-Terrorist Centre.  The adoption of effective measures to outlaw terrorism was a priority of the domestic policy of Kazakhstan, which was in the process of ratifying the 1997 Convention on the suppression of terrorist bombings and the 1999 Convention on the suppression of financing terrorism.  In June, the first summit meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia had been convened in the country, bringing together for the first time ever the heads of the major Asian States, to express their political will in a joint search for ways to strengthen the stability of the region and combat international terrorism.

Terrorism could be eliminated only by all countries participating in a comprehensive effort under the auspices of Security Council.  Resolution 1373 (2001) upgraded the capacity of the international community to sustain a new global threat; it was important for all countries to coordinate measures to ensure effective implementation of the resolution.  The United Nations had a major role to play in monitoring implementation through the work of the Counter-terrorism Committee.


She said the current United Nations legal framework must be strengthened.   A comprehensive convention on international terrorism and a convention for suppressing acts of nuclear terrorism should be elaborated.  The Assembly should keep on its agenda the convening of a high-level conference under United Nations auspices to formulate a joint response of the international community to terrorism.


ORLANDO REQUEIJO (Cuba) said it was up to the United Nations, and only the United Nations, to make the global struggle against terrorism legitimate.  The United Nations Charter provided the conditions to fight such a scourge.  It called on States to desist from threatening armed interference in the affairs of others.  It prohibited acts that threatened the territorial integrity of States.  A framework convention on international terrorism should be elaborated.


A general convention should provide for a broad scope of application and should specify roles for both civilians and government officials to ensure that States were prevented from “aggressing” on others.  The convention should contain a definition of terrorism.  Determination of the scope and gravity of a terrorist act should not be dependent only on the material damage caused.  Crimes of terrorism by omission should be covered.  The financing of side-activities associated with terrorist acts should also be covered.


He said the legitimate rights to self-defense did not justify any State aggressing against another.  Actions such as the publication of lists of suspected terrorist States, like those the United States was putting out on the pretext of fighting terrorism, should not be allowed.  A recent example was the accusation by a United States official that Cuba hampered the efforts being taken against international terrorism.  It was the United States that perpetrated terrorism against Cuba from Miami and against Panama and South America through its activities.  It tolerated conditions that contributed to terrorism.  For example, it allowed money that financed terrorism to pass through its banks.  It harbored known terrorists.  Cuba had offered to enter into bilateral agreements to fight international terrorism; the United States had refused.


KARIM MEDREK (Morocco) reaffirmed his country’s unequivocal condemnation of terrorism whatever the motivation.  He said the events of 11 September last year had had a profound effect worldwide.  The United Nations was the appropriate forum for combating terrorism; the existing counter-terrorism instruments reflected the will of the international community on the issue.  He said the text on a comprehensive convention presented by India in the Ad Hoc Committee was a useful one.  Agreement on the text was still possible.  The draft would fill gaps in existing conventions.


He said the search for a definition of terrorism was a difficult but necessary exercise.  It must take account of the differences between the struggle of people for self-determination and against foreign occupation, like that of the Palestinians, and the 11 September attacks.  Morocco supported the call for a high-level conference to discuss terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.


He said that following the 11 September events, Morocco had adopted appropriate measures, including the creation of an inter-ministerial body, to coordinate efforts to combat terrorism.  Morocco had become a party to the International Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.


REVAZ ADAMIA, (Georgia), said the Russian Federation had shown double standards by denouncing terrorism on the one hand, and colluding with known terrorists against his country on the other.  National counter terrorist efforts, in order to be effective, therefore, had to be built into a global framework, he continued.


He said the “shocking tragedy” of the 11 September attacks against the United States made the international community realize the magnitude of the threat it was confronted with.  Georgia was actively cooperating in United Nations and regional efforts against terrorism.


Turning to the situation in his own country, he alleged that a man wanted for several assassination attempts against President Shevardnadze of Georgia had been taking refugee in Russia for seven years.  Numerous requests from both Georgia and INTERPOL for his extradition had been spurned on the grounds that the Russian law enforcement agencies were unable to establish his whereabouts.


The authorities in Georgia, he said, had conducted an anti-terrorist and anti-criminal operation in the Pankisi Gorge.  The area had been freed from the presence of Chechen “boeviks”.  He spoke of anti-Georgia “hysteria” in the Russian mass media, and said accusations that Georgia was condoning terrorists “could not be further from the truth”.


He said the international community was duty-bound to react on the basis of the principle of shared responsibility, and to ensure that measures to eliminate international terrorism were not “misused for toppling the independence of a democratic country and a member of the global anti-terrorist coalition”.


NADIA AHMAD (Canada) said that since the Committee’s last session, Canada had ratified the International Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the International Convention on the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism.  It was now party to all 12 counter-terrorism instruments.  Canada supported the pragmatic approach adopted by the Ad Hoc Committee in the negotiations on the draft comprehensive convention against terrorism and the draft convention on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.  She emphasized the need for the United Nations to send a clear message of unity in the fight against terrorism.


Canada had taken measures to fully implement the Security Council resolution 1373, in part, through the United Nations Suppression of Terrorism Regulations, made on 2 October, 2001.  Measures imposed by Canada included effectively freezing funds of those listed in the Regulations, preventing the provision or collection of funds and requiring all Canadians, and every one in Canada, including financial institutions, to report on any frozen assets they held.  As of today, she said, 362 individuals and entities were subject to the United Nations Suppression of Terrorism Regulations.


MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said much progress had been made in the fight against terrorism, in which his country played a central role.  Its cooperation with the United States and other friendly nations was well known.  As a member of the Security Council for the next two years, Pakistan would support the work of the Counter-terrorism Committee.  Pakistan had signed 11 of the 12 anti-terrorism conventions.


Certain conditions must be met in the fight against terrorism.  Military force should only be used as a last resort.  The fight should never be aimed at civilians, and human rights should always be protected during the fight against terrorism.


He said Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain had summed up the right attitude toward terrorists when she said they should be “starved of the oxygen of publicity”.  Little progress had been made on formulating a comprehensive international instrument on terrorism and the differences seemed no closer to being bridged.  However, the lack of a definition of terrorism need not be an impediment in formulating the instrument.  The Policy Working Group had said that all aggressive actions against civilians were acts of terrorism.  In that context, State terrorism must not be excluded from the scope of terrorism.


He said terrorism had a history but no nationality or religion.  It was distressing that some were associating terrorism with Muslims and were turning against Islam.  The General Assembly should adopt a resolution that would affirm the harmony between Muslims and non-Muslims.  Simultaneously with the practical legal measures being taken against terror, the root causes must be addressed.  That effort should focus primarily on promoting a peaceful resolution to conflicts and on promoting prosperity for all.


ALLIEU I. KANU (Sierra Leone) said his country had had to grapple with terrorism for 10 years.  The international community had not heard his country's call for help until thousands of people had been killed, raped and mutilated.  The events of 11 September had given a new momentum to the discussion on international terrorism, and had exerted greater pressure to arrive at a consensus on how to respond to it.


One way the international community was called on to respond was through the elaboration of a comprehensive international convention.  Discussions on the draft had been going on for some time and he commended the spirit of compromise that had prevailed.


In compliance with Council resolution 1373, his country was putting in place mechanisms to deal with the concern of terrorism, he said.  Sierra Leone's criminal law and 1965 criminal procedure act already had legal ways of dealing with terrorists.  He called for the uniform application of international rules and standards in the fight against terrorism, and said he supported the convening of a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations to formulate a joint response of the international community to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.


M. JAVAD ZARIF (Iran) said that while terrorism had been a global threat for decades, the "barbaric" attacks of September 11 demonstrated yet another inconceivable manifestation of this menace.  Iran, for its part, had intensified its endeavours to fight terrorism.  Iran was a victim of terrorism, including operations conducted and sponsored by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda long before those sad incidents.  It had thus remained a faithful partner in the United Nations-led coalition against terrorism.  It had established a National Coordination Committee to facilitate the implementation of Security Council resolution 1373.  Practical arrangements had been made to guarantee civil aviation security, border security and anti-laundering mechanisms in the banking system.


Furthermore, he went on, the forces at the 900-kilometer border with Afghanistan had been increased in order to identify and arrest individuals suspected of being involved in terrorist activities.  Several large-scale operations to locate and remove safe houses in the eastern provinces had been carried out.  There had been a thorough study of existing national laws to ascertain whether the terrorist acts mentioned in Security Council resolution 1373 were crimes under Iranian domestic laws.  While many existing laws made terrorist acts punishable, a comprehensive law on combating terrorism was under preparation. 


It was important for the international community to conduct a sober assessment of those policies that brought about conditions of injustice, deprivation and powerlessness that might lead to a perverted response in the form of violence and terror.  Attempts to attribute violence and terror to a particular religion or a specific ethnic group were not only erroneous but also undermined collective efforts to combat terrorism.  They helped terrorists to “hide behind false scenarios and perceptions”.


HOUSSAM ASSAD DIAB (Lebanon) said any violations of the Charter, selective application of its provisions, or imposition of solutions from outside the Charter would be a fatal blow to the Organization.  He said Israeli policies such as occupation, seizures of individuals, deportations, bombings, and massacres, which continued on a daily basis, were violations of international law.


A comprehensive international convention against terrorism should consider foreign occupation and must protect the legitimate rights of peoples to resist foreign occupation.  A distinction must be drawn between that legitimate struggle and terrorism.  Lebanon associated itself with the position of the Organization of Islamic Conference -- read in a statement by the representative of the Sudan yesterday –- which also supported the right of peoples to fight against foreign occupation.  Lebanon had become party to all 12 international counter-terrorism conventions.


JAMES SHINN (United States) said no nation was immune from the threat of terrorism.  Until it could be shown that the costs outweighed the benefits, extremists in every region of the globe would increasingly use terrorism to advance their agendas.  The international community and the United Nations had long recognized the threat that terrorism posed to the ideas enshrined in the United Nations Charter. 


So far, the United Nations had risen to the terrorist challenge.  The Counter-terrorism Committee was beginning its second year of work.  Its chairman had pointed out that protecting 95 per cent of the world was not enough, if five per cent were left to foster, protect, supply and finance terrorists.  The General Assembly should adopt a consensus resolution to deliver a strong message about the rejection of terrorism as a political instrument.  The resolution could call on States to adopt counter-terrorist legislative and administrative measures; urge States to become parties to the 12 terrorism conventions and protocols; stress the importance of enhancing capacity to combat terrorism; highlight the importance of regional, subregional and functional organizations in the effort; and emphasize the importance of cooperation and communication between and among States.


He said the Working Group was grappling with two important items:  negotiating the comprehensive convention on terrorism and the nuclear terrorism convention.  He hoped the outstanding issues would be resolved so that both instruments could be completed.  In that regard, he looked forward to participating in the two-day consultations on those conventions scheduled for

15 and 16 October.


PIOTR KASZUBA (Poland) said terrorism could not be justified by political or any other reasons.  A negative effect of globalization was the spreading of terrorism across borders, and therefore coordinated and coherent response was required from the international community to prevent and combat terrorist acts.


He said Poland had signed, ratified or acceded to twelve universal conventions and protocols on the prevention and suppression of international terrorism.  It saw the United Nations as the most suitable forum to undertake activities aimed at the prevention of and struggle against international terrorism on a global scale.  International legal instruments should continue to play an important role in the fight against terrorism.


He believed there was enough international cooperation to look for a comprehensive convention against terrorism.  The constant danger of terrorist attacks showed that work on the convention needed to be accelerated, and its provisions strengthened.  Work on the draft resolution for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism should also be finalized.


KENJIKA LINUS EKEDEDE (Nigeria) said terrorism was a global menace which had to be promptly confronted.  It threatened democratic institutions.  The events of 11 September 2001 had galvanized the international community into taking concerted action to prevent international terrorism.  Terrorism, however, should be understood in the light of the context from which terrorist activities arose.  He noted the view already expressed that the lack of hope for justice provided breeding grounds for terrorism.  The struggle against it should be carried out in keeping with international human rights obligations.


He said Nigeria believed that the fight against terrorism should not be used as a justification to suppress legitimate dissent, eliminate political opponents, consolidate political power, or prolong incarceration of opponents without trial.  There was need for international cooperation in the fight against terrorism.  Nigeria supported the early completion of the draft convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.


Nigeria also supported the convening of a high-level conference on terrorism at the level of Heads of State or Government, under United Nations aegis.  That would help sustain the present momentum in the fight against terrorism.  The United Nations must take the lead in creating the enabling environment in the fight against terrorism, he said.


CARLOS DOS SANTOS (Mozambique) said terrorism had to be tackled globally because of its insidious and transboundary nature.  He looked forward to the creation and adoption of a comprehensive convention against international terrorism which he believed would add value to the existing 12 international conventions against terrorism.


He said Mozambique had submitted in December 2001 its report to the Counter-terrorism Committee on measures being implemented to prevent and suppress the financing of international terrorism.  Further, Mozambique was fully committed to contributing to the work of the Counter-terrorism Committee in having Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) implemented globally.


He noted with satisfaction that almost all Member States had submitted their reports to that committee, which was supporting Member States in efforts to improve and strengthen their capacities in order to meet their obligations under Security Council resolution 1373.


TAREK MUTAHAR (Yemen) said his country had suffered from terrorism, being victimized by terrorists since the events of 11 September.  Yemen was committed to fighting terrorism.  A clear definition of terrorism would enable formulation of the international legal instruments to help in the effort.


He said it was critical that such a definition made clear the distinction between terrorism and the right to resist violence and oppression.  State terrorism must be included in the definition.  That was the kind of terrorism being perpetrated on the Palestinian people by Israel.


ALFONSO ASCENCIO (Mexico) said terrorism was a grave danger but not the only danger against the world.  The multifaceted issues involved in transnational organized crimes were critical to address.  Those activities related to the debate on terrorism.  Not much progress had been made in drafting a convention on nuclear terrorism, for example.  One reason was that the issue was related to other areas of inter-State relations.


He noted measures the Organization of American States (OAS) had taken to promote cooperation in protecting the region against terrorism.  The Inter-American Convention had promoted hemispheric security.  Regional convergence on the subject had been reached.  There was no justification for terrorism and no justification for using any means to fight it.  Too much progress had been made in the area of advancing human rights.  That should not be sacrificed.  It was more important than ever for the Security Council and the General Assembly to harmonize their work.


VIJAY NAMBIAR (India) said his country had been exposed to the depredations of terrorism for years.  The recent attack against innocent civilians at a temple in Gujarat had left 30 dead and 100 severely injured.  During the general debate in the Assembly last month, States had supported coordinated action targeting international terrorism in all its forms.  He hoped the solidarity manifested since 9/11 would be maintained throughout the world.  The effort must not be confined to a hunt for either just an individual or group.  It must not deal with the superficial symptoms of the malaise.  Rather, it must concentrate on a thorough destruction of the phenomenon from its roots and its support bases, in all its manifestations.  The war on terrorism must be fought on all fronts, including the criminal activities that financed terrorist organizations, including arms smuggling, drug trafficking and money laundering.


He said the 1994 Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism had been the first significant step taken by the United Nations in the fight against terrorism.  It made clear that no considerations of political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature could justify criminal acts intended or calculated to promote a state of terror in the general public.  Unfortunately, the Declaration continued to be flouted by States that provided moral, material, financial and logistical sponsorship and support, as well as arms, to terrorists.  The Declaration should be implemented by all States, and the standards set by it should be effectively made operational.


Terrorism was a common enemy of all peoples, of all beliefs and religions, and of peace and democracy.  International law did not support the argument distinguishing terrorists from freedom-fighters.  It did not permit impunity to perpetrators of crimes against humanity.  Terrorists were criminals.  Alibis or rationalizations advanced by advocates of the “root causes” could not absolve terrorists from their culpability.  


VOJIN DIMITRIJEVIC (Yugoslavia) said that international legal norms must provide the foundation for all anti-terrorist activities.  He called for precise definition of terrorism by new instruments, and hoped that outstanding problems in the Ad Hoc Committee on the subject as well as others would be finally resolved.  Measures to combat terrorism should never be abused to interfere with human rights and democratic values.  The draft convention being prepared should carefully preserve the principles of international law, he said.  The deeper causes of terrorism, especially the social and economic ones, should be identified, addressed and eliminated.


The United Nations should play the principal role in the fight against international terrorism, he said.  The role of other organizations, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should be highlighted.


Yugoslavia had become a party to a number of counter-terrorism instruments, and had signed important treaties with neighbouring countries related to the struggle against terrorism.  The competent Yugoslav authorities had provided all relevant information to the United Nations and other international organizations, and would continue to do so in the future, he said.    


Right of Reply


RALPH MARTINEZ (United States) referred to accusations against his country made by Cuba.  He said the Castro regime had used human and electronic means to distract attention and resources from the counter-terrorist efforts of the United States.  At least once a month since 9/11, he said Mr. Castro had sent a “walk-in” agent with intentionally wrong information to the United States intelligence agencies.  Even as Cuba was seeking to misdirect the investigation into the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Castro continued to strengthen ties with Iraq and to give political support to Saddam Hussein.


There were no facts to back up the baseless charge of terrorism by the United States.  The charge was made to deflect attention from Cuba’s using terrorism as a foreign policy tool for forty years.  The real question on anti-terrorist efforts was not whether State-sponsored terrorism lists were legitimate or not.  Did Cuba want to contribute to the fight against terrorism?  The record showed it did not.

Mr. REQUEIJO (Cuba) said many lies were carried by the United States media.  The issues he had raised still stood.  The point was that Cuba was committed to cooperating with all States that were willing to cooperate with others, and did not adopt mean double standard policies that led to speeches such as the one delivered by the United States this morning.  It had been a nice speech, one nearly everyone could support.  However, it did not reflect reality. 


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