2 May 2006
General Assembly
GA/10456

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixtieth General Assembly

Plenary

78th Meeting (AM)


SECRETARY-GENERAL PRESENTS COUNTER-TERRORISM RECOMMENDATIONS TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY


Reiterates That Terrorism in All Forms

Can Never Be Justified; Says All States Vulnerable


Handing over to the General Assembly his blueprint for a “comprehensive, coordinated and consistent” counter-terrorism strategy today, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that Member States now had an historic opportunity “demonstrate the resolve of the international community and lay the foundations of a truly global response to this vicious global scourge”.


“These recommendations stem from a fundamental conviction, which we all share; that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes, is unacceptable and can never be justified,” Mr. Annan said, presenting his vision on the matter in his report “Uniting against terrorism: Recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy”.


“Uniting around that conviction is the basis for what I hope will be a collective global effort to fight terrorism -- an effort bringing together Governments, the United Nations and other international organizations, civil society and the private sector -- each using their comparative advantage to supplement the others’ efforts,” the Secretary-General said, presenting the latest in a series of sweeping reports on a broader agenda of institutional reform and renewal, approved by world leaders at the Assembly’s 2005 Summit last September.


Mr. Annan told the Assembly that recommendations are to address terrorism by dissuading people from resorting to terrorism or supporting it; denying terrorists the means to carry out attacks; deterring States from supporting terrorism; developing State capacity to defeat terrorism; and defending human rights.  Indeed, defending human rights ran like a “scarlet thread” through the report, he said, and States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism comply with their obligations under international law, in particular human rights law, refugee law and international humanitarian law. “Any strategy that compromises human rights will play right into the hands of the terrorists,” he added.


The international community’s efforts in deterring States from supporting terrorism must be firmly rooted in the international rule of law -- creating a solid legal basis for common actions, and holding States accountable for their performance in meeting their obligations.  “This work is intimately linked with the need to develop State capacity to defeat terrorism,” Mr. Annan said.


“All States, in every region -- large or small, strong or weak -- are vulnerable to terrorism and its consequences.  They all stand to benefit from a strategy to counter it.  They all have a role to play in shaping such a strategy, in implementing it, and in ensuring that it is updated continuously to respond to challenges as they evolve,” he said, adding that it was essential that Member States conclude, as soon as possible, a comprehensive convention on international Terrorism.  He stressed, however, that lack of progress in building consensus on a convention could not be a reason for delay in agreeing on a strategy.


Opening the meeting, Hamidon Ali ( Malaysia), Acting President of the General Assembly, delivering a statement on behalf of General Assembly President Jan Eliasson ( Sweden), said the horrendous attacks of 11 September 2001 were a demonstration of the scale of death and destruction that terrorism could cause.  Last year, India, Indonesia, Egypt, Jordon and the United Kingdom, to name but a few, had all been targets of terrorist attacks.  And, only last week, there had been further attacks in Egypt.  On behalf of the Assembly, he expressed deepest condolences to the Egyptian Government and the people of that country, and to the families and friends of all those affected.  He also announced that informal consultations on the Secretary-General’s report would begin on 11 May.


In action today, the Assembly adopted without a vote, a resolution on Support by the United Nations system of the efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies (document A/60/L.53), by which the Assembly would reaffirm the commitment of the international community to democracy and the important role of the United Nations in providing timely, appropriate and coherent support to the efforts of Governments to achieve democratization and good governance, within the context of their development efforts.


That text was introduced by the representative of Mongolia.  The representative of Costa Rica spoke in explanation of position before action on the draft, and the representative of Cuba spoke in explanation of position after the adoption.


The Assembly will meet again at a time and date to be announced.


Background


The General Assembly met today to hear an address by the Secretary-General on his report Uniting against terrorism: recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy (document A/60/825).  The Assembly was also expected to take action on a draft resolution entitled Support by the United Nations system of the efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies.


By the terms of that text (document A/60/L.53), the Assembly, stressing that democracy, development and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, would note that a considerable number of societies have recently undertaken significant efforts to achieve their social, political and economic goals through democratization, good governance practices and economic reform -- pursuits that deserve the international community’s support.  It would also note, with satisfaction, that the Sixth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies will be held in Doha from 30 October to 1 November 2006.


By further terms of the text, the Assembly would invite Member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations, national parliaments and non-governmental organizations to actively contribute to the follow-up to the Fifth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies, and make additional efforts to identify possible steps in support of Government efforts to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies, including through those steps set out in the Ulaanbaatar Declaration and Plan of Action: Democracy, Good Governance and Civil Society, and to inform the Secretary-General of the actions taken.


The Assembly would, by further terms, recognize that the United Nations has an important role to play in providing timely, appropriate and coherent support to Government efforts to achieve democratization and good governance within the context of their development efforts.  Stressing that the Organization’s activities must be undertaken in accordance with the United Nations Charter, it would also commend the Secretary-General and, through him, the United Nations system for the activities undertaken at the request of Governments to support efforts to consolidate democracy and good governance.


By other terms, the Assembly would welcome the work carried out by the follow-up mechanism to the Fifth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies and the Chair’s efforts to make the Conference and its follow-up more effective.  It would welcome also the comprehensive tripartite character (Governments, parliaments and civil society) of the Sixth International Conference, which will allow for greater interaction and cooperation in the common effort of promoting democracy.  It would encourage the Inter-Parliamentary Union to promote the contribution by parliaments worldwide to democracy, including through the International Conference of New or Restored Democracies process and the upcoming Parliamentarians’ Forum in Doha.


The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to examine options for strengthening the support provided by the United Nations system to Member States efforts to consolidate democracy and good governance, including by supporting the President of the Fifth International Conference, and report to it at its sixty-second session.


Statement by Acting General Assembly President


HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia), Acting President of the General Assembly, delivering a statement on behalf of General Assembly President Jan Eliasson ( Sweden), said that, over the years, the world had witnessed many terrorist attacks.  The horrendous attacks of 11 September 2001 were a demonstration of the scale of death and destruction that terrorism could cause.  Last year, India, Indonesia, Egypt, Jordon and the United Kingdom, to name but a few, had all been targets of terrorist attacks.  And, only last week, there had been further attacks in Egypt. On behalf of the Assembly, he expressed deepest condolences to the Egyptian Government and the people of that country, and to the families and friends of all those affected.


Those and other attacks had reminded everyone that the United Nations must continue to vigorously pursue its efforts to combat terrorism.  While the negotiations on the comprehensive convention on international terrorism were still ongoing, it was now time for the global community to elaborate a comprehensive strategy to combat terrorism.  At the 2005 World Summit, Heads of State and Government mandated the Assembly to develop, without delay, elements of a counter-terrorism strategy identified by the Secretary-General.  Those world leaders had asked the Assembly to do that with a view to adopting and implementing a strategy to promote comprehensive, coordinate and consistent responses at national, regional and international levels.  Today, the Assembly was taking the first steps in that process, he said.


Statement by Secretary-General


United Nations Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN, introducing his report entitled “Uniting against terrorism: Recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy” (document A/60/825), expressed regret that, last week, Member States in the Fifth Committee had been unable to reach consensus on management reform proposals.  He was convinced, however, that Member States remained committed to reform in principle, and urged them to work together “to rebuild the spirit of mutual trust that is essential to the smooth functioning of this Organization”.


He said Heads of State and Government at the 2005 World Summit had asked for proposals “to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations system to assist States in combating terrorism and enhance coordination of United Nations activities in this regard”.  They had charged Member States to develop, without delay, the elements he had identified, “with a view to adopting and implementing a strategy to promote comprehensive, coordinated and consistent responses, at the national, regional and international level, to counter terrorism”.


The recommendations in his report, requested by the Assembly, stemmed from a fundamental conviction “that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes, is unacceptable and can never be justified”, he said.  Uniting around that conviction was the basis for what he hoped would be a collective global effort to fight terrorism -- an effort bringing together Governments, the United Nations and other international organizations, civil society and the private sector.


The recommendations built further on the “five Ds” he had outlined in Madrid last year, namely: dissuading people from resorting to terrorism or supporting it; denying terrorists the means to carry out an attack; deterring States from supporting terrorism; developing State capacity to defeat terrorism; and defending human rights.  All five were interlinked conditions crucial to the success of any strategy against terrorism.  “To succeed,” he said, “we will need to make progress on all these fronts.”


In order to dissuade people from resorting to terrorism or supporting it there was a need to launch a global campaign of Governments, the United Nations, civil society and the private sector, with the message that terrorism was unacceptable in any form, and that there were far better and more effective ways for those with genuine grievances to seek redress.  One of the clearest and most powerful ways to do that was by refocusing on the victims.  “It is high time we took serious and concerted steps to build international solidarity with them, respecting their dignity, as well as expressing our compassion”, he said.


He said denying terrorists the means to carry out an attack meant denying them access both to conventional weapons and to weapons of mass destruction.  That would require innovative thinking from all about today’s threats, including those which States could not address by themselves, such as bio terrorism.  Similarly, it would mean working together to counter terrorists’ growing use of the Internet.  “We must find ways to make sure that this powerful tool becomes a weapon in our hands, not in theirs.”


Deterring States from supporting terrorism must be firmly rooted in the international rule of law, and in holding States accountable for their performance in meeting their obligations, he said.  That work was intimately linked with the need to develop State capacity to defeat terrorism.  Today’s report, on the request from the President of the Assembly, elaborated on steps to build State capacity and to strengthen the Organization’s work in that field.


He said the United Nations system had a vital contribution to make in all the relevant areas, “from promoting the rule of law and effective criminal justice systems to ensuring countries have the means to counter the financing of terrorism; from strengthening capacity to prevent nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological materials from falling into the hands of terrorists to improving the ability of countries to provide assistance and support for victims and their families”. 


Defending human rights ran like “a scarlet thread” through the report, the Secretary-General continued.  It was a prerequisite of any effective counter-terrorism strategy.  It was the bond that brought the different components together.  That meant the human rights of all; of the victims of terrorism, of those suspected of terrorism, of those affected by the consequences of terrorism. States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism complied with their obligations under international law, in particular human rights law, refugee law and international humanitarian law.  “Any strategy that compromises human rights will play right into the hands of the terrorists,” he said.


In conclusion, he said “All States, in every region -- large or small, strong or weak -- are vulnerable to terrorism and its consequences.  They all stand to benefit from a strategy to counter it.  They all have a role to play in shaping such a strategy, in implementing it, and in ensuring that it is updated continuously to respond to challenges as they evolve.”  It was also essential that Member States conclude, as soon as possible, a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.  However, lack of progress in building consensus on a convention could not be a reason for delay in agreeing on a strategy.


He said “By instructing you to adopt and implement a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy, your Heads of State and Government have given you a momentous challenge, and a historic opportunity.  By rising to that challenge, you will demonstrate the resolve of the international community, and lay the foundations of a truly global response to this vicious global scourge.  I hope my recommendations will help you in that vital mission.”


Introduction of Draft


BAATAR CHOISUREN (Mongolia) introduced the draft resolution “Support by the United Nations system of the efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies” (document A/60/L.53), saying the text reaffirmed the commitment of the international community to democracy and the important role of the United Nations in providing timely, appropriate and coherent support to the efforts of Governments to achieve democratization and good governance, within the context of their development efforts.


It also encouraged the Secretary-General to continue improving the Organization’s capacity to respond effectively to Member States requests, including, among other things, through the activities of the United Nations Democracy Fund.  He went on to say that the Sixth International Conference on New or Restored Democracies would be held in Doha, Qatar, from 30 October to 1 November, marking the first time that such a conference was held in the Middle East.


Action


In explanation of vote before the vote, JORGE BALLESTERO (Costa Rica), recalling that his country had always expressed interest in and support for the International Conference on New or Restored Democracies, noted that in operative paragraph 4 the Secretary-General was only “encouraged” to continue increasing the Organization’s capacity to deal effectively with the requests of Member States regarding the subject.  His delegation understood that to be a requirement identical to those in operative paragraphs 10 and 11.


He said that, when mandates were being established in resolutions, there was often ambiguity by using words such as “requests”.  The Secretary-General had pointed that out in his report on mandate review (document A/60/733).  Although such ambiguity might facilitate consensus, it was necessary and desirable to define the scope of the matter.  Precise use of words was necessary in establishing mandates.


The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution contained in document A/60/L.53 without a vote.


Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, RODRIGO MALMIERCA DÍAZ ( Cuba) said the draft contained various relevant matters regarding international democracy and reaffirmed participation of all peoples in achieving that democracy.  Nevertheless, Cuba would firmly reject some of the Secretary-General’s proposals referred to in operative paragraph 1 of the resolution.  They seemed to give official recognition to “movements or groups” that Cuba believed promoted the exclusion of developing countries from the United Nations.


Those groups operated according to double standards and selectivity, not according to inclusion and cooperation.  Cuba would also continue to oppose any attempts to impose selective indicators, which it believed were discriminatory.  On operative paragraph 4 and its reference to the so-called “democracy fund”, Cuba was concerned that it was not clear who or how the fund would be defined, or how countries would access it to support their democracies.  Cuba was concerned that the fund would be used to determine which States were democratic and which were not.


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For information media • not an official record