18/10/2004
Press Release
GA/L/3254


Fifty-ninth General Assembly

Sixth Committee

7th Meeting (AM)


Terrorism never justified, legal committee is told,


but fight against it must conform to rule of law


Call for Strengthening of UN Mechanisms to Counter

Scourge; Delegates Report on International, Regional Efforts


(Issued on 19 October 2004.)


The European Union this morning urged the enhancement of dialogue among nations and cultures to broaden understanding as the Sixth Committee (Legal) began debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism.


The representative of the Netherlands, speaking for the Union, said the fight against international terrorism must be a common effort to deprive terrorists of the ground for propaganda and recruitment.  It should always be carried out with full respect for the democratic principles of human rights, fundamental freedom, international humanitarian rights, the rule of law and adherence to international obligations.


Existing United Nations anti-terrorism mechanisms must be strengthened to combat the scourge, the representative of Brazil said on behalf of the Rio Group.  States had a responsibility to work together and coordinate efforts to deal with the problem of terrorism.


Speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), the representative of Turkey said terrorism could never be justified.  The fight against it, however, must adhere to the principles of international law and be led by the United Nations.  A universally accepted definition of terrorism must be agreed upon, so that terrorism was not confused with the struggle of peoples for self-determination.


Speaking for the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the representative of Viet Nam said an ASEAN Plan of Action on terrorism had been implemented in January.  Australia’s representative referred to that ASEAN dialogue on terrorism and transnational organized crime, and noted that the Security Council had recognized the importance of fighting terrorism at the regional level.  He said his country would support the regional capacity-building resources of the newly opened Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation and would also host an inter-faith dialogue with Indonesia in December, to encourage the values of religious and cultural tolerance terrorists sought to undermine.


Indonesia’s representative, in turn, said her country’s experience with fighting transnational crime was to cooperate on intelligence and enforcement at the preventive stage.


Introducing the reports of both the General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism and the Sixth Committee’s Working Group on the same subject, Rohan Perera of Sri Lanka, Chairman of both bodies, said there remained divergences in approach on the key outstanding issues.  However, the realization of the need to finalize the work was clear.


Switzerland’s representative said finalizing a draft comprehensive convention on terrorism would avoid overlap of work by the Security Council and the General Assembly. It would also reinforce the Assembly’s prerogatives as the Organization’s legislative body.  It would further offer an objective definition of terrorism to guide the Council’s work.


The Ad Hoc Committee has been working on a comprehensive convention on terrorism and another on nuclear terrorism since it was established by Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996.  Working groups of the Sixth Committee have continued the Ad Hoc Committee’s tasks during sessions of the Assembly, most recently from 5 to 8 October.


Statements were also made this morning by the representative of India, Republic of Korea, Tajikistan, Cameroon, Myanmar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Russian Federation, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Bangladesh.


The Sixth Committee will meet next at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 19 October, to continue its debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism.


Background


The Sixth Committee (Legal) met this morning to begin debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism.


The Committee has before it a report of its working group on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/C.6/59/L.10).  It states that the group met in New York from 5 to 8 October under the Chairmanship of Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka), who also chairs the General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism, and decided to refer its own report and that of the Ad Hoc Committee to the Legal Committee for its consideration.  The working group also recommended that work should continue on finalizing the text of a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism and another instrument for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.


The coordinator of the consultations on the draft convention on terrorism, in a report annexed to that of the working group, states that finding a solution to the problems connected with article 18 of the draft text (activities of armed forces of States) remained key for reaching overall agreement on the instrument.  He says he was “most encouraged by a renewed willingness to provide fresh impetus to the negotiations”.


The coordinator of the draft text on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, in his report, also annexed to that of the working group, said several delegations had indicated that, after six years of negotiations, the time had come for its finalization.  They said the text should be submitted to the Sixth Committee for its consideration and eventual final approval by the General Assembly.  However, other delegations had reiterated their positions that paragraphs 2 and 3 of article 4 of the draft text (also dealing with activities of armed forces) should be deleted.  The coordinator observed that the divergences of view on article 4 were “not irreconcilable” and that delegations should build on the progress achieved thus far.


The report of the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996 (document A/59/37), which covers the work of its eighth session (New York, 28 June to 2 July 2004), contains 3 annexes, including an informal summary, prepared by its Chairman, Mr. Perera, and written amendments and proposals submitted by delegations.


The Secretary-General’s report on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/59/210 and Corr.1) outlines the action taken by specified States and international organizations to implement the General Assembly Declaration on the subject (resolution 49/60).


It also contains a list, with their status, of 22 global or regional treaties related to the prevention and suppression of international terrorism.  It states that the Secretariat has prepared the material to be published in the second volume of the United Nations Legislative Series entitled “National law and regulations on the prevention and suppression of international terrorism”.


Also before the Committee are letters from the Sudan (document A/59/83-S/2004/387); Uzbekistan (document A/59/124-S/2004/532); Russian Federation (document A/59/337-S/2004/721); Kazakhstan (document A/59/368-S/2004/747); Israel (document A/59/380-S/2004/757); Costa Rica (document A/59/383-S/2004/758); and Cuba (document A/59/371).  These concern measures being taken to eliminate international terrorism and situations arising from those measures.


Statements


ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka), Chairman of both the General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism and the Sixth Committee’s Working Group on the same subject, introducing their reports, said that, while divergences in approach remained on the key outstanding issues, there was a clear realization of the need to finalize their work.


It was imperative that delegations remained engaged, he said, adding his conviction that, given the necessary political will and a spirit of openness and flexibility, the remaining differences could be reconciled.  That was essential for preserving the momentum of the negotiating process to which they were all committed, he said.


CARLOS SERGIO DUARTE (Brazil), speaking for the Rio Group (Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Brazil), noted that the report of the Secretary-General on actions taken by certain States to combat terrorism had helped to coordinate action by States and international organizations towards those ends.  Nevertheless, acts of terrorism continued, he said.  Existing mechanisms must be strengthened to combat the scourge, the Group said, and in that connection, he referred to the abundant United Nations instruments on all aspects of terrorism.  He said States had a responsibility to work together in a coordinated fashion to deal with the problem of terrorism.


The Rio Group was concerned about the lack of progress in the work of the Ad Hoc Committee and urged all States to overcome their differences to ensure that work was concluded on the comprehensive convention on terrorism and for the suppression of all acts of terrorism.


Making a statement in his national capacity, he said Brazil joined the international community in unequivocally condemning all forms of terrorism.  National legislation was being reviewed to enhance the country’s contribution to the international effort to combat terrorism.  His Government had submitted four reports to the Security Council anti-terrorism committee.  Brazil also supported the call for an international conference under United Nations auspices to come up with a joint position of the international community on means to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.


ARJAN HAMBURGER (Netherlands), speaking for the European Union and associated countries, said the Union unequivocally condemned all terrorist acts as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of motivation, form or manifestation.  At the same time, dialogue among nations and cultures must be enhanced to broaden understanding.  The fight must be a common effort to deprive terrorists of the grounds for propaganda and recruitment.  The fight must always be carried out with full respect for the democratic principles of human rights, fundamental freedom, international humanitarian rights, the rule of law and adherence to international obligations.


He said the Union was fully committed to implementing all Security Council resolutions on countering terrorism, as well as the legal framework set out by the Assembly.  The Ad Hoc Committee should continue its work on the draft comprehensive convention and should finish its work before the holding of a high-level conference on terrorism was discussed.  The outstanding issues should be resolved by consensus without destroying the understandings achieved so far.  The convention on nuclear terrorism should be concluded as soon as possible to deprive terrorists of access to “dirty bombs”.


Finally, he said, regional and subregional organizations played a critical role in enhancing the effectiveness of global action against terrorism.  A counter-terrorism action plan had been adopted by the Union in March.  That had committed the Union to developing technical assistance strategies to enhance capacities where needed.  Also, a coordinator had been appointed to facilities greater coordination between the various Union initiatives, policies and activities.


LE LUONG MINH (Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the United Nations played a leading role in the fight against terrorism.  The ASEAN was committed to implementing the United Nations resolutions in that regard.


He said an ASEAN plan of action to combat transnational crime had been put in place in January.  It was aimed at addressing the areas of transnational crimes that had been linked to terrorism.  Cooperative arrangements had been made at the ministerial levels with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.  Dialogue had been strengthened with partners to combat crime and terrorism.  Joint declarations had been issued with the United States and China.  Declarations of cooperation had been issued with India, Australia and the Russian Federation.


Outlining other regional actions to build collaboration for fighting terrorism, he said the second Intersessional Meeting on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime had been held in March within the ASEAN regional forum framework.  A regional preparatory meeting had been held for the next United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to discuss international cooperation in countering terrorism through its links with other crime.  The global fight against terror could not be won without the coordination and cooperation of all.


KALRAJ MISHRA (India) said the global fight against terrorism should be given substance and credibility by the avoidance of selective approaches based on political expediency.  The standard-setting processes involving the entire Organization membership should be adhered to, as set out in the 1994 declaration eliminating terrorism.  It unequivocally condemned all terrorist acts and obligated States to certain actions and principles.  The recently adopted Security Council resolution 1566 defined terrorism more closely than the earlier declaration and was closer to the draft on the comprehensive convention before the Committee.


Hopefully, he said, the Assembly would seize the momentum set by that resolution to adopt the nuclear terrorism convention as it stood now.  The Ad Hoc Committee should continue its work in the Working Group framework to resolve the pending issues.


AHN EUN-JU (Republic of Korea) said her country was a State party to all 12 counter-terrorism conventions and was implementing their provisions.  Security Council resolution 1566 adopted earlier this month had been welcome with its practical suggestions for countering terror.


As defined by article 2, the draft comprehensive convention was a gap-filler measure that should be adopted as soon as possible, she said.  Further, article 18 accommodated most of the concerns that had been put forward with regard to conditions of occupation, the right to self-determination and the status of combatants.  Its form should follow the example of other counter-terrorism conventions as closely as possible.  The convention on nuclear terrorism should follow the language of other sectoral conventions.  The Ad Hoc Committee should recognize more similarities than differences in the views of delegations to demonstrate the unequivocal international commitment to eradicate terrorism.


RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan) said his country had become an active member of all regional anti-terrorism organizations.  His Government had only recently signed three conventions, including on the marking of all plastic explosives and on unlawful acts against fixed platforms located under continental shelves.  It was fully implementing the recent Security Council resolution which urged States to ratify all global anti-terrorism instruments.


He said the current session of the General Assembly had a responsibility to ensure the conclusion of work on a comprehensive convention on terrorism and the instrument for the suppression of all acts of nuclear terrorism.


GOKCEN TUGRAL (Turkey), speaking for Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said those countries strongly condemned all acts of terrorism and remained convinced that the scourge, irrespective of its motivations, forms or manifestations could never be justified.  They believed that terrorism required a coordinated response from the international community.  The quest for means to combat international terrorism must adhere to the principles of international law and should be led by the United Nations.


The OIC was ready to work constructively with other United Nations Members for progress to be made in the Ad Hoc Committee.  It was willing to explore new ideas and proposals which would help overcome the remaining differences on the draft comprehensive convention on terrorism.  It called for cooperation for outstanding issues to be resolved; it was important that a clear and universally-agreed definition of terrorism was arrived at.  The group believed that terrorism and the struggle of peoples for self-determination against foreign occupation in accordance with the United Nations Charter should be differentiated.


S.E.M. IYA TIDJANI (Cameroon) said that terrorism had worsened an already alarming international situation.  Recent terrorist attacks against Egypt reminded States of how fragile their own countries were.  Coordinated and concerted action was required of all States.   The international community had a responsibility to come up with an acceptable definition of terrorism.  The struggle against foreign occupation and self-determination by peoples should not be equated with terrorism.  One man’s “terrorist” was another’s “freedom fighter”, he said.  There should be no violation of human rights and freedoms under the pretext of fighting terrorism.


Countries with technological capabilities to fight terrorism should help those, particularly in the developing countries, without the expertise to do so. He expressed support for the convening of a high-level conference under United Nations auspices to develop a concerted and joint international effort to combat terrorism.  He proposed the appointment of a United Nations high commissioner to deal with anti-terrorist issues.  He said the head of the Security Council Committee on terrorism should be invited to address meetings of the Sixth Committee.


U WUNNA MAUNG LWIN (Myanmar) said all measures to eliminate the growing threat terrorism posed to international peace and security must be undertaken according to the Charter.  Collective responsibility and coordinated efforts were essential.  Toward that end, his country had signed or acceded to 11 of the 12 legal instruments on the suppression of terrorism.  The technical details of the remaining convention were being studied.  Bilateral cooperation with neighbours covered border security, as well as measures to prevent and suppress other serious crimes related to terrorism including financing, money-laundering and transnational organized criminal activity.


REHAM AL-GHANEM (Kuwait) said her country unequivocally condemned terrorism and there should be no confusion between terrorism and the right to self-determination.  The invitation of Saudi Arabia to host a high-level meeting on the matter early next year was welcome.  Her country had taken actions on the regional and national levels to fight terrorism.  It had also acceded to 11 of the conventions on terrorism.


ADIYATWIDI ASMADY (Indonesia) recalled that terrorism violated the most fundamental of all human rights, the right to life, and that her country had been a victim of terrorist violence.  It was, however, important to avoid the temptation of identifying terrorism with any particular religion, race, nationality or ethnic group.  She said her country had been implementing Security Council resolution 1373 and had co-hosted a ministerial regional meeting with Australia in Bali, to address regional issues involving terrorism.  Based on experience with combating transnational crime, the way to fight terrorism was to cooperate on intelligence and enforcement measures in the preventive stage.


Despite the slow movement on the outstanding issues in the comprehensive terrorism convention, she said the formulation of the draft was a clear reflection of the enduring commitment of all States to halt the advance of terrorism.  A high-level conference should be held under the auspices of the United Nations to bridge the divergent views and achieve consensus.


SAEED MUHAIR AL KITBE (United Arab Emirates) said there was a need now to promote the implementation and recommendations of international instruments relating to counter-terrorism.  Current approaches to combating the scourge should also be re-evaluated to improve transparency and objectivity.  There should be no double standards, and the dignity of individuals and their human rights should be respected.


He said his country welcomed the invitation of Saudi Arabia for the convening of a regional conference on terrorism next February.  And it renewed its appeal for the convening of an international conference under United Nations auspices to provide a clear definition of terrorism, and for an appropriate action to revitalize and strengthen existing anti-terrorist instruments.  He announced various measures taken by his Government to implement Security Council resolutions against terrorism.


BEN PLAYLE (Australia) said the September bombing outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta underscored the continuing seriousness of the threat in the region.  The world must be as determined and active in combating terrorism as the terrorists were in finding ways to move people, weapons and finances for their heinous tasks.


The Security Council had recognized that much of the global anti-terror effort had to be carried out at the regional level, he said.  His country had been involved in numerous regional counter-terrorism activities, including the dialogue recently established with ASEAN on transnational crime.  A legal issues working group had been established there, to improve the regional legal framework for fighting terrorism, including through wider implementation of the United Nations counter-terror conventions.  A working group of law enforcement practitioners would promote strengthened collaboration between authorities.


He said his country had committed substantial resources to develop the regional capacity-building resources of the newly opened Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation.  Australia would also host an inter-faith dialogue with Indonesia in December to encourage the values of religious and cultural tolerance terrorists sought to undermine.


DANIEL FRANK (Switzerland) said the swift completion of the two draft conventions before the Committee was in everyone’s interest.  While the recently adopted Security Council resolution 1566 was welcome, as a way to enabling quick reaction to crisis situations, it was not applicable to tasks involving long-term legislative measures affecting the entire international community.  All States must be involved in the new working group to be established by the draft resolution.  Further, the Council resolution contained legislative formulations that did not correspond to the definitions in the draft general convention or in existing anti-terrorism conventions.


He said the Assembly must rapidly reach consensus on the general convention against terror in order to avoid such overlaps.  That would also reinforce the Assembly’s prerogatives as a legislative body, with an objective definition of terrorism that would guide the Security Council in drafting its resolutions against terrorism.  Also, an in-depth study should be conducted of current United Nations practice in combating terrorism and the possibility of establishing a central body on the subject of terrorism.


ANDREY I. DENISOV (Russian Federation) said additional collective efforts were needed now to counter the growing international terrorism threat.  The Russian Federation attached importance to collective regional and international efforts to that end.  It supported a central role for the United Nations in that effort.  He welcomed the role of the Security Council terrorism committee.


He noted that much work had been done in the last few years to combat international terrorism, thanks to the work of the Sixth Committee.  New measures were required, he said, and he recalled the intensive work being done in the General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism on a draft comprehensive convention on terrorism, and another for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.  He said his delegation shared the concerns about lack of real progress on work on those two draft instruments.  That concern had been shown also by the appeal made recently by the Security Council; that appeal for work to be concluded should be heeded.


He recalled the Russian Federation’s proposals on the draft on suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, and noted that a vast majority of States, including those of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of Islamic States, supported a consolidated text prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee Chairman.  He said the Russian Federation delegation had always been supportive of a compromise approach for a consensus to be achieved.  It was important that the views of the majority were respected.  The question of extending a provision in the draft text (article 4) to cover the activities of armed forces of States should be accepted.   He said the conclusion of work on the draft instrument on suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism during the current session would be a welcome achievement, at a time some States and entities were actively trying to acquire nuclear materials.


ZENON MUKONGO NGAY (Democratic Republic of the Congo) joined other delegations in condemning all acts of terrorism regardless of their aims and objectives.  His country had set itself an objective to put in place measures to combat terrorism, including the sharing of information.  It was planning to join the United Nations instruments to combat terrorism.  It was also introducing laws to prosecute terrorists and money-laundering operations, among others.


He said a military court had recently imposed capital punishment on terrorists.  He invited the Security Council terrorism committee to take note of efforts of his Government in the anti-terrorism arena, and to provide it with technical assistance.


He said the Democratic Republic of the Congo supported a conference to arrive at a universal definition of terrorism.  Acts of armed forces of States should conform to the principles of the United Nations Charter.  Differences in the Ad Hoc Committee should be resolved quickly to allow it to complete its tasks.


IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh), through a representative, expressed support for the broad range of United Nations measures to fight terrorism.  He also called for an international conference under United Nations auspices to define the concept of terrorism.  He said he condemned the religious profiling of the phenomenon, which was a universal challenge to be addressed collectively.  A military response and instant retribution could not eliminate the threat; the root causes, such as poverty and other conditions causing social degradation, must be addressed globally.


He said he supported measures to keep nuclear materials out of terrorist hands, and yet the most effective way of preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction was to totally eliminate such weapons.  The collective commitment to the right measures for eliminating all terrorism must be enhanced, particularly by the early adoption of the two key conventions before the Committee.


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