19/10/2004
Press Release
GA/L/3255


Fifty-ninth General Assembly

Sixth Committee

8th Meeting (AM)


Legal Committee Delegates call for earliest adoption

 

of outstanding anti-terrorism conventions

 


Costa Rica Urges Appointment, by End of 2007, of High Commissioner

on Issue; Afghanistan Seeks Help to Control Remnants of Extremist Elements


(Issued on 20 October 2004.)


Stating that no cause justified terror and that the international community had a responsibility to coordinate its work in countering it, delegates this morning called for the adoption of the two draft conventions before the Sixth Committee (Legal) as the Committee continued its debate on measures to fight international terrorism.


The representative of Costa Rica said that finalizing the draft conventions on suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism and, especially, the comprehensive convention on terrorism would set the stage for work to begin in earnest next year on establishing an Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Terrorism by the end of 2007.  The Office would eliminate duplication of work, channel resources and guide decision-making.  Also, the codification of instruments on terrorism should not be a short-sighted punitive aim but broadened to cover all aspects of the problem.


Defining terrorism as different from all other crimes in that objective was to keep a population in a state of terror while forcing a government to change direction, Colombia’s representative called for political considerations to be set aside, so that the two important instruments before the Committee could be finalized.


The representative of Afghanistan said the cultivation of narcotics in his country financed terrorism and undermined efforts to build a healthy economy.  He said Afghanistan needed the support of neighbours to control the remnants of extremist and fanatic elements


Cuba’s representative rejected the use of the struggle against terrorism as a pretext for interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries and for undermining national sovereignty.  He called for flexibility in speedily concluding work on the draft comprehensive convention with a clear and accurate definition of the crime of terrorism.


Pakistan’s representative recalled several Assembly resolutions reflecting the view that terrorism could be prevented only by tackling its underlying causes.  Any comprehensive definition of terrorism must include the phenomena of State terrorism and distinguish it from the right of self-determination, he said.


The representative of the United States called on States to sign and implement the already existing terrorism instruments.  She said only 57 States were parties to all 12 of them, and 47 States were parties to six or fewer.  Technical assistance was offered by the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee working with the United Nations Terrorism Prevention Branch and other bodies.  States should avail themselves of it.


Israel’s representative said there was not a terrorist who didn’t see himself as a freedom fighter, yet all nations that had suffered from terrorist actions knew they were wrong.  Actions such as beheadings of aid workers were crimes against all humanity.  They must not only be condemned, but actively challenged by concerted joint action, political will and strong, unequivocal legal instruments.


Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Malaysia, Ecuador, Libya, Belarus, Qatar, China, Iceland, Morocco, Bahrain, Monaco, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Tanzania, Japan and Algeria.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, 20 October, to continue its debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism.


Background


The Sixth Committee (Legal) met this morning to continue debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism.  It had before it the report of its working group on the subject (document A/C.6/59/L.10) and also the report of the Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee document A/59/37).  It also had the Secretary-General’s report (document A/59/210 and Corr.1) on measures taken by governments and organizations in their fight against terrorism, in addition to correspondence directly from States concerning such measures.  (For further background see Press Release GA/L/3254 of 18 October.)


Statements


K.DEVAMANY (Malaysia) said the war against terrorism could not be won without the underlying factors and root causes being addressed.  It demanded effective and coordinated international measures under the ambit of universally accepted laws and conventions.  Malaysia had a comprehensive compendium of 55 laws that could be utilized to combat terrorism.  Foremost among them were the penal code and the internal security act of 1960.  Malaysia was party to five of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Conventions and was in the process of concluding its internal procedures to enable it to deposit its instrument of ratification of the remaining instruments.


Malaysia believed that only an immediate, cohesive and united effort would enable the international community to successfully combat terrorism.


LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador) reiterated his unqualified support for actions against terrorism but said it must always be in the United Nations context.  He said his country had submitted its report on legislative, administrative and enforcement actions taken to counter terrorism.  Human rights and fundamental freedoms must not be undermined, and respect for them must be a central part of any anti-terror planning.  Prevention was as important as suppression.  Hunger and gross inequities sowed the seeds of insecurity and they had to be addressed.  Violence had not brought about positive results.  Therefore, the emphasis must be placed on implementing the instruments of peaceful resolution of differences.


AHMED A.S.ELMESSALLATI (Libya) said State terrorism was the most dangerous form of terrorism, and his country had suffered from it.  Libya had acceded to the 12 United Nations anti-terrorism conventions.  It had participated in the drafting of the comprehensive convention to combat terrorism.  It urged a decisive and clear definition of terrorism to draw a distinction between acts of terrorism and the struggle of peoples for self-determination and freedom from foreign occupation.


Libya supported the initiative to convene an international conference on terrorism in Saudi Arabia.  He called for speedy progress in the work of the Sixth Committee and its working groups on terrorism concerning the drafting of comprehensive conventions on terrorism and for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.  Member States should show flexibility for a consensus to be achieved on the problematic texts.  He noted that his country had voluntarily renounced production of nuclear materials.


ANDREI POPKOV (Belarus) said the fight against terrorism called for coordinated efforts under United Nations auspices.  He regretted that the General Assembly had not been able to play a more active role in the fight against terrorism, unlike the Security Council.  The two bodies must coordinate their efforts to fight terrorism.  They should look for new opportunities to counter acts of terrorism.


The United Nations was the appropriate body to counter the global challenge posed by terrorism, and its organs should be reorganized for that purpose.  That should be done in a transparent manner, he said.  He urged the adoption of the draft texts on terrorism being elaborated in the Ad Hoc Committee and the working groups of the Sixth Committee during the current session.


ALI MOHAMMED AL-BAKER (Qatar) said it was increasingly difficult to separate events in different parts of the world.  What happened to one State affected all others so that events were taking on the character of a single event.  Fears, denunciations and criticisms were futile in such a state, as was answering violence with violence.  The challenges of the future could only be met by demonstrating faith in God and progress.


The only way forward was for the international community to be proactive, objective and transparent while dialoguing without politicising the problem of terrorism.  The causes rather than the results should be studied and the absence of borders in the menace should be recognized.  The phenomenon should be defined to distinguish it from the legitimate right to self-determination.  In short, the global effort to fight the global phenomenon of terrorism must now be turned up to make it dynamic.


JO ANNE MOORE (United States) recalled that her country’s representative had spoken in the Security Council on 8 October and had painted a landscape that was “not pretty”.  A recent “spike” in terrorist attacks against innocent victims had included actions such as beheadings.  More concerted action was necessary to reverse that trend, she said.  Beyond endorsements and pledges, “deeds matter more than words”.


She said the relevant international terrorism instruments must be signed and implemented.  As yet, only 57 States were parties to all 12 instruments and 47 States were parties to six or fewer of them.  States must avail themselves of the technical assistance offered by the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee working with the United Nations Terrorism Prevention Branch and other bodies.  Regional conventions were important, but not enough.  Further, the Executive Directorate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee must be strengthened to better monitor States’ implementation of Council resolution 1373, to identify gaps in capacities, and to work with assistance providers to fill those gaps.  In addition, States must pay more attention to stopping the movement of terrorists across national borders, as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had done recently by adopting a set of international standards on passport issuance and security, which included specifications for biometric passports.


JIA GUIDE (China) expressed his opposition to the use of terror for any purpose and called for the United Nations to lead the countering of terrorism within the recognized norms of international law.  He said his country was party to 10 of the 12 international conventions against terrorism and had signed the convention on suppression of financing for terrorism.  A study was under way on how to ratify it quickly.  China would also continue working to enrich the international legal framework against terrorism.  The work on the two draft conventions before the Committee should now be quickly finalized, as parties during the recent Working Group meeting had shown a willingness to do.


HJALMAR HANNESSON (Iceland) said the fight against terrorism was a struggle for the human values the United Nations sought to foster.  Perpetrators of terrorism must be brought to justice.  Their bases and networks must be destroyed.  Since terrorism had a global reach, the world response must be on the national, regional and international level with a growing role for the United Nations.


He said his country had ratified all 12 conventions and protocols on terrorism and was actively implementing them, along with the European convention on suppression of terrorism.  Finalizing the two conventions before the Committee would be an important addition to the legal framework for eliminating terrorism.


KARIM MEDREK (Morocco) said his Government had undertaken multi-dimensional actions against terrorism.  He recalled the terrorist attack against his country last year and the measures it had adopted in its wake.  Individual actions, though important, were insufficient to deal with the problem, he said, and he referred to Morocco’s efforts to engage in regional efforts to fight the scourge.  He also noted that the United Nations was an appropriate forum for achieving an international consensus on the means to fight terrorism in conformity with United Charter.  Morocco had taken initiatives to comply with instruments of the world body, including those of the Security Council, related to terrorism.


He said Morocco had been frustrated by the lack of political will to achieve consensus in the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on a comprehensive convention against terrorism and another for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.  He urged compromises to ensure the achievement of consensus on the Russian proposals on the text on nuclear terrorism.  Morocco supported the convening of an international conference on terrorism, as well as the Tunisian proposal on a code of conduct on the means to combat terrorism.


AHMED ALI YOUSSIF ARRAD (Bahrain) said that terrorism was a major challenge to international peace and security.  It had hobbled the development of States, which required stability for economic and social progress.  That was why States must fight the evil at all levels.  It would not help to attack only the symptom and not also the root causes of terrorism.  His country had become party to a number of regional and international instruments against terrorism.  National machinery was being set up to address terrorism issues, he said.  Bahrain had submitted the required reports to Security Council’s terrorism committee.


GILLES NOGHES (Monaco) said that States must strengthen and enhance cooperation, and show solidarity, in the fight against terrorism.  His country had become party to the anti-terrorist conventions.  It would like to see the early conclusion of the elaboration of the draft comprehensive convention on terrorism and the instrument for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.  International legal instruments must be strengthened to fight terrorism.  He also urged the provision of technical assistance to States who needed them to combat terrorism.


MARIA ANGELA HOLGUIN CUELLAR (Colombia) said terrorism differed from all other crimes in its purpose:  the objective was to put a population in a state of terror and keep it there while forcing a government or organization to act or not act in a given direction.  Her country had been fighting the terrorist threat for many years.  Domestic policies and cooperation with regional, subregional and international organizations were bringing about progress.  The major international conventions had been ratified.  In September, Colombia had adhered to the convention on terrorist bombings and had ratified the convention on terrorism financing.  Political considerations should be put aside so that the two important instruments before the Committee could be finalized.


ARTHUR LENK (Israel) said there was not a terrorist who did not see himself as a freedom fighter.  All terrorists were working for a political end they believed was worthy, important and vital.  Yet, all nations that had suffered from terrorist actions knew they were wrong and knew that actions such as the beheadings of aid workers were crimes against all humanity that must not only be condemned, but actively challenged by concerted joint action, political will and strong, unequivocal legal instruments.


The goal of the conventions before the Committee at present was not a matter of “reaching middle ground”, he said.  The positions of the Organization of Islamic States (OIC) were clearly untenable.  There were no circumstances under which terrorist acts were acceptable.  Average citizens from Belfast to the Balkans to Saudi Arabia and Indonesia would agree on that.  The way to move forward on the comprehensive convention and other treaties was to keep in mind the victims of international terror.


Recognizing that the first responsibility of government was to protect its citizens within the framework of international law, the goal in the Committee was to enact a strong document that did not compromise at the lowest common denominator, but addressed the truth all people knew.


BERNARD GOONETILLEKE (Sri Lanka) said his country’s commitment to the global fight against terror was evident from its having subscribed to 10 of the 12 international conventions directed towards suppressing it.  Domestic legislature was being finalized to give effect to international obligations, particularly in the area of money laundering, in connection with which the World Bank was providing assistance.  He said Sri Lanka was also closely engaged in regional efforts within the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) framework.  The differences of view on the scope of application of the two conventions before the Committee could be surmounted with the political will to achieve the goal on a sensitive and complex topic.


GERALDO SARANGA (Mozambique) said defeating terrorism was a responsibility of the international community.  It required an effective multilateral approach under United Nations auspices.  Developing countries should be provided with the assistance they required to fight terrorism.  The Security Council’s terrorism committee should identify those countries in need.  The fight against terrorism should be undertaken within the framework of international law and human rights.  Mozambique had become party to a number of international and regional instruments against terrorism.  It supported the convening of an international conference on the question of terrorism under United Nations auspices.


ORLANDO REQUEIJO (Cuba) said his country rejected the use of the struggle against terrorism as a pretext to interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries and to also undermine their national sovereignty.  He urged flexibility for the conclusion of work on the comprehensive convention on terrorism, which could not be postponed.  The draft text should contain a clear and accurate definition of the crime of terrorism, including all its forms.  Cuba considered that the activities of the armed forces of States -- not regulated by international humanitarian law -- should not be excluded from the scope of the text.


He recalled that, since 1959, the Cuban people had been victim of innumerable terrorist actions, which had caused death, as well as enormous damage to the country’s economy.  It was widely known, he said, that such terrorist acts were organized, financed and carried out from United States territory.  He said that pursuant to Security Council resolutions on terrorism, including resolution 1373 (2001), individuals committing acts of that kind were as terrorists as those who protected and allowed them to act, or financed their activities, from their territory.


MOHAMMAD ERFANI AYOOB (Afghanistan) said his country was a party to all 12 international instruments on terrorism and fully supported the Security Council’s recent call in resolution 1566 for all States to become parties to them.  The new constitution adopted by his country in January contained provisions incorporating those of the United Nations instruments relevant to fighting terror.  Bilateral arrangements had been concluded with neighbours to cooperate on intelligence and to coordinate activities.  A Tripartite Commission with Pakistan and the United States addressed such issues as cross-border security and rapid response.  But the cultivation and trafficking of the narcotics that financed terrorism and undermined efforts to build a healthy economy continued to be a threat to international peace and security, not just in the region, but for the whole world.


He said President Karzai had issued three decrees to ban illegal narcotics-related activities and an Afghan National Drug Control Strategy had been established.  But the related scourges of drugs and terrorism were global challenges that Afghanistan could not meet alone.  It needed technical and financial support, as well as strong partnerships in the international community.  It also needed the support of neighbours to control the remnants of the Al-Qaida, Taliban, extremist and fanatic elements that attacked citizens and threatened not only security but civilization itself.


BRUNO STAGNO UGARTE (Costa Rica) categorically condemned terrorism.  He said there was no cause that justified it.  The international community had a responsibility to coordinate its work in countering it.  The Assembly had been successful in codifying instruments relevant to fighting terrorism and it must do so now with the two instruments before it.  They should be adopted during the current Assembly session so as to guide the Organization’s work.


He said codification on terrorism should not be limited to a short-sighted punitive aim, but should address the breadth of view that terrorism required.  The instrument should call for multilateral action executed in a coordinated way, with mechanisms of assistance to States brought in and all Member States involved.  The fight against terrorism should be a permanent and regular activity, the task given to a permanent organ placed at the centre of the Organization’s work.  An Office of High Commissioner on Terrorism should be active by the end of 2007, as his country had suggested in document A/59/383-S/2004/758.  That would eliminate duplication of work, channel resources and guide decision making.  The outcome of this Assembly session should be the taking of first steps in that direction, so that work could start in earnest in the next session.


ANDY A. MWANDEMBWA (United Republic of Tanzania) said the war against terrorism should be coordinated and fought effectively throughout the United Nations.  Practical steps should be devised and taken up by the membership, including ratification of all the 12 United Nations anti-terrorist conventions.  His country had ratified eight and was working on the rest.  His delegation supported the keeping on the Ad Hoc Committee’s agenda the convening of a high-level conference under United Nations auspices to formulate a joint international response to terrorism.


At the regional level, a conference was last week organized by the African Union in Algiers to consider the establishment of an African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism.  The Centre was intended to centralize information, studies and analyses on terrorism and terrorist groups, and to develop training programmes.  His country had participated in that important meeting.


M.AKRAM ZAKI (Pakistan) said his country’s counter-terrorism efforts continued on various fronts, with a number of measures taken to strengthen domestic, legal and administrative frameworks.  Pakistan had signed 11 of the 12 United Nations anti-terrorist instruments.  It had banned a number of extremist organizations, and the activities of others were being closely monitored.


He recalled that the General Assembly had adopted several resolutions from 1972 to 1989, which reflected the vision that terrorism could be prevented only by tackling its underlying causes.  The Assembly had also taken a bold stand against State terrorism in its resolution 39/159 of 1984 in which it had stressed its inadmissibility.  The need to address the underlying causes of terrorism could not be ignored.  Any comprehensive definition of terrorism must include the phenomena of State terrorism and distinguish it from the right of self-determination.


HIROSHI TAJIMA (Japan) said his country had become party to all 12 United Nations counter-terrorism instruments.  It had held a seminar last October for officials from Asian countries to promote accession to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.  It planned a similar seminar with the cooperation of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee in Tokyo next December for countries, which needed to strengthen their capacity to fight against terrorism.


Japan believed in the need for new international frameworks to bring terrorists to justice, regardless of the specific nature of their crimes.  Regarding work on the current two draft texts on terrorism, he said Member States should carefully consider what steps were necessary for the prevention of terrorism.  Discussion based on work accomplished to date must be continued with flexibility and a cooperative spirit.


ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said the United Nations must be at the centre of the fight against terrorism.  The concerted international approach must avoid confusing terrorism with the fundamental and legitimate right of self-determination.  International cooperation must be strengthened, with judicial and technical assistance given to States that lacked those resources, since terrorists made unwitting hosts of them.  Further, since terrorist networks knew no bounds, the operational coordination of policies must be enhanced.  For example, judiciary and information services could be enhanced mechanisms in the fight against terrorism.


Noting other mechanisms that had been mentioned as ways to fight terrorism such as data bases and holding financial institutions accountable for cross border monetary flows, he said they were all relevant.  And while Security Council resolution 1566 had addressed the issue of extradition in relation to terrorism, legislation was not a Council activity.  It was an Assembly activity carried out through its Legal Committee.  The difficulty at hand on the comprehensive convention must not impede the urgent work of finalizing the text so that the Assembly could adopt it.  The legitimate struggle to exercise the right to self-determination was enshrined in international law.  The Assembly was sovereign in its negotiations on its work, and the Council work should not interfere with it.  The Council had called on all States to come together and adopt the two conventions.  That would give impetus to the work already accomplished by regional bodies.  It would open the way for a summit on a Code of Conduct with regard to terrorism.  It would strengthen the international legal framework for fighting terrorism.


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