13 October 2006
General Assembly
GA/L/3298

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

Sixty-first General Assembly

Sixth Committee

4th Meeting (AM)


Assembly’s legal committee hears call for spirit of compromise in effort


to complete comprehensive convention on international terrorism


Lebanon , Noting Recent Experience, Says Resistance to Occupation

Is Different Issue; Afghanistan Cites Brutality by Remnants of Taliban, Al-Qaida


As the Sixth Committee (Legal) moved towards completion of its discussion of international terrorism, speakers, this morning, again expressed the hope that the adoption last year by the General Assembly of the politically ambitious Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy would inspire the stalled negotiations on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, aimed at filling in legal gaps left by other counter-terrorism treaties.


The Committee, which has the task of negotiating the terms of the comprehensive convention, has yet to overcome differences of position as to whether there should be specific references to “State terrorism” and a clear distinction between, in essence, “terrorist” and “freedom-fighter”.


Nigeria’s representative echoed others today when she expressed confidence that the same spirit of compromise that made possible the adoption of the convention on nuclear terrorism and the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy could be mobilized for the comprehensive convention.


The representative of Lebanon said the Global Strategy recognized the legitimate right of peoples to resist an occupying power, which he said clearly differentiated between terrorists and those practising that right.  The Strategy also recognized the need to address such root causes of terrorism as prolonged unresolved conflicts and the existence of State terrorism which, he said, was manifested by blatant violation of the sanctity of civilians and the use of prohibited munitions such as cluster, vacuum, phosphoric or uranium-depleted bombs.  For an entire month, he said Lebanon’s cities, towns, and villages had been pounded with thousands of those munitions.


On another aspect of the issue of counter-terrorism, a number of speakers focused on the importance of the technical assistance provided by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to certain developing countries, to build up their judicial and law enforcement capacities to counter terrorism.


The representative of Afghanistan said that as a prime victim of international terrorism, the people of his country continued to suffer from the menace.   Terrorists strove to destabilize the progress achieved over the past five years, as they interpreted prosperity in Afghanistan as their own defeat.  Remnants of the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other radical extremist groups infiltrated the country’s borders to carry out increasingly brutal attacks against nearly all segments of Afghan society.  The provision of financial and logistical support to the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremists flagrantly violated Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.


Other speakers this morning were the representatives of Myanmar, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Togo, San Marino, Jamaica, Norway, Ukraine (on behalf of the GUAM States), Mozambique, Mongolia, Mali, Armenia and Uganda.


The Committee will meet on Monday, 16 October, at 10 a.m. to hear the remaining speakers on the issue of Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism, and to take up its agenda items related to the Administration of Justice at the United Nations, Requests for Observer Status in the General Assembly and the Rule of Law.


Background


The Sixth Committee (Legal) met this morning to complete its discussion on the issue of measures to eliminate international terrorism.  For background information, see Press Release GA/L/3296 of 11 October 2006.


Statements


U THEIN TIN ( Myanmar) said terrorism threatened territorial integrity, undermined the rule of law and destabilized Governments.  Effectively combating terrorism must be comprehensive, balanced and in conformity with international law, particularly the principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of States.  He said Myanmar had had “the bitter experience” of terrorist attacks perpetrated on its own soil, and Myanmar was firmly committed to combat terrorism through national endeavours and cooperative efforts, at regional and international levels.  It had enacted 20 laws concerning the prevention, suppression and elimination of terrorism.  The Plan of Action of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy rightly recognized that capacity-building in all States was a core element of global counter-terrorism efforts.


LEVENT GÜMRÜKÇÜ ( Turkey) said that the international community’s united response to terrorism had been slow.  There had been a lack of a comprehensive, coordinated and consistent strategy to counter and eventually eradicate terrorism.  Nevertheless, he noted the various steps, including the recent adoption of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, to strengthen the common fight against the scourge.  The Strategy sent a strong signal about the determination of the international community to combat terrorism and overcome differences of view on the approach in a constructive manner.  In the effort to combat terrorism there should be no complacency, discrimination, indifference or double standards.  The Global Strategy should be transformed into action through effective implementation and review mechanism.  Attention should be paid to the fact that no culture or religion could be associated with violence and terrorism.  Turkey strongly believed that implementation of initiatives such as the Alliance of Civilizations –- designed to promote dialogue and understanding among different cultures and religions -– should be an integral part of the fight against terrorism.


He said he supported the call for the early convening of an international conference on terrorism, under United Nations auspices, appealed for Member States to display flexibility and pragmatism for the conclusion of the negotiations on the subject.  He pledged Turkey’s cooperation in that effort.


ADI KHAIR ( Jordan) said his country condemned all forms of terrorism, which was an international scourge and threatened international peace and security as well as all societies.  Jordan would cooperate with all States in the coordination process in getting to sources of the problem.


He said terrorism should not be linked to any religion; it contradicted the message of Islam, which was tolerance.  Jordan welcomed the recent adoption of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and called for its implementation and follow-up.  It also supported the resumption of negotiations in the Ad Hoc Committee on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.


He noted that Jordan had adopted a number of measures to fight terrorism, including reform of legislation on border controls.  It had cooperated with a number of countries on terrorism issues as well as with the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee.  Jordan supported the Saudi Arabia proposal for the establishment of an international centre on terrorism.


ABDULRAHMAN AL-JUMAA ( Saudi Arabia) said terrorism posed a challenged to all States, and affected the entire world.  There was no justification for it, and his country condemned it in all its manifestations.


He said Saudi Arabia was party to instruments to combat terrorism.  It supported the proposed convening of an international conference on terrorism under United Nations auspices, and reiterated its call for the establishment of an international centre on terrorism.  He said there was no religion which encouraged terrorism, and religions should not carry the blame for terrorist activities.


KHUNYING LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN ( Thailand), said her country had a firm policy of supporting all actions against terrorism, at all levels – including not only through such regional commitments as those under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), but, also under the wider framework of the United Nations.  It was imperative to redouble efforts to enforce legislation already in place and to reorient strategy.  She hoped to see more resources allocated to the technical assistance activities of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  She also expressed the hope that a spirit of cooperation and compromise would help to overcome differences on thorny issues, which for so long had inhibited progress.


ANGELA NWORGU ( Nigeria) said a high-level conference on terrorism should be held after the conclusion and adoption of a comprehensive convention.  She expressed confidence that the same spirit of compromise that enabled the adoption of the nuclear terrorism convention and the Global Strategy could be mobilized for the comprehensive convention.  She highlighted several of the legislative and regional collaborative efforts that Nigeria had undertaken in the fight against terrorism.  Nationally, Nigeria had enacted a money-laundering bill and established an economic and financial crimes commission.  Regionally, the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism, based in Algiers, worked with the United Nations and like-minded bodies worldwide in the fight against terrorism.


ABRA AFETSE TAY ( Togo) said the Global Strategy was a decisive step forward, in view of the challenges the world had faced since the horrendous attacks on 11 September a few years ago.  She said Togo had signed 13 of the counter-terrorism instruments and had recently enacted a national money-laundering legislation.  She expressed appreciation for the United Nations assistance that allowed poor States to enact the recommendations in Security Council resolution 1540 to ensure that weapons of mass destruction did not fall into the hands of non-State actors.  She also welcomed the efforts of UNODC and its technical assistance to strengthen judicial regimes against terrorism.  The conclusion of a comprehensive convention was the final objective of the efforts of the international community.  She was sure that the working group would do everything possible to overcome the remaining difficulties.


MICHELA BOVI ( San Marino), said her country strongly believed in the importance of promoting tolerance and understanding among different cultures, including religious tolerance and respect for all religions; that could be achieved only through the establishment of a clear and honest dialogue, education and diligent use of the mass media.  The recognition of the direct link between development and terrorism was fundamental.  As history had demonstrated, she added, economic marginalization and poverty could represent extremely dangerous conditions for the origin of social dissent and violence, and fertile ground for terrorism.  Action against terrorism had to proceed in parallel with the promotion of good governance, the rule of law and the protection of human rights at all levels.


RAVAN FARHADI ( Afghanistan) said that as a prime victim of international terrorism, the people of Afghanistan continued to suffer from the menace.  Terrorists strove to destabilize the progress achieved over the past five years, as they interpreted prosperity in Afghanistan as their own defeat.  Remnants of the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other radical extremist groups infiltrated the country’s borders to carry out increasingly brutal attacks against nearly all segments of Afghan society.  Targets of the attacks included members of the National Assembly, religious clerics, local officials, civil servants, schools, teachers, employees of reconstruction projects, and members of non-governmental organizations, as well as soldiers of the international coalition and Afghan National Army and Police.


Quoting relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, he the said provision of financial and logistical support to the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremists flagrantly violated those resolutions.


He said Afghanistan remained committed to overcome the threats posed by the terrorists.  The National Army and Police were conducting joint combat operations against them and he emphasized his country’s need for sustained international assistance.  It supported all efforts at the international, regional and subregional levels to combat terrorism, and had signed 13 international instruments and conventions dealing with the scourge.  It supported the convening of an international conference on terrorism, noting that the gathering would strengthen the political will of the international community to effectively combat international terrorism.


MICHELLE WALKER ( Jamaica) said her country was fully committed to cooperating with the international community to remove the terrorism threat, and welcomed, in that regard, the adoption of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  She said the adoption of the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism was also a significant development.  Her delegation attached great importance to becoming a party to that Convention, and that internal procedures had already been initiated to allow for its signature and ratification.  Jamaica was fully committed to implement its obligations under Security Council counter-terrorism resolutions and had submitted country reports as required under those resolutions.


It was committed to the fight against terrorism, but, it faced constraints, both human and financial.  She said she welcomed technical assistance to help States fulfil their reporting obligations.


She said efforts to combat terrorism should take account of international law, including human rights and international humanitarian law, and the question of drug trafficking should not be overlooked.


MARI SKAARE ( Norway) said terrorism could be defeated by the application of a range of measures including improvement in education, the fostering of cultural understanding, the promotion of development and the encouragement of peace and reconciliation in an effort to improve conditions that would otherwise be conducive to the spread of terrorism and extremism.  Acts of terrorism could be combated only by the establishment of closer police and judicial cooperation, and, as a last resort, by using force as authorized by the United Nations Charter.


She said the United Nations was needed to take a leading role in the global fight against terrorism.  Norway looked forward to the work on the agenda item and was confident that it would carry on the spirit of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  The role of the General Assembly in the fight against international terrorism could be further strengthened by an agreement on a draft comprehensive convention.  Norway would give high priority to the conclusion of the convention without further delay.


VIKTOR KRYZHANIVSKYI ( Ukraine), speaking for the member States of GUAM –- Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine -– said the Global Strategy constituted a full scale programme of measures to be taken by the international community.  In that context, he called upon United Nations Member States to adopt a comprehensive convention on terrorism at the current session.


Most terrorist acts, he went on, were committed with political goals.  Nations could and must resolutely thwart the terrorists’ aspirations and plans.  Regionally, the GUAM group had established a “virtual centre” for combating terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and other dangerous types of crimes.  He said the centre facilitated online communication, analysis, and exchange of operational information on law-enforcement activities, as well as the coordination of joint operations and major crime investigations.  GUAM had also created a system to exchange data and other information through protected channels.


CRISTIANO DOS SANTOS ( Mozambique) said the Global Strategy provided clear guidance with practical and action-oriented measures to address terrorism.  He particularly welcomed the Strategy as a means of enhancing coordination within the United Nations system, as well as cooperation with other relevant actors in the field of counter-terrorism.  He expressed the hope that all States would demonstrate a more flexible and constructive approach, in order to contribute towards the finalization of the comprehensive convention on terrorism.  He said technical assistance to Mozambique and other developing countries was particularly important since those countries strove to meet their international obligations in the fight against terrorism.  He welcomed the new efforts of UNODC to help with training in the drafting of national legislation, and in the law enforcement and prosecutorial fields related to terrorism.


BAATAR CHOISUREN ( Mongolia) described the adoption of the Global Strategy as one of the major achievement of the Assembly’s previous session, and he expressed the hope that a comprehensive convention would now be concluded.  The common stance that terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever and for whatever purposes, must be consistently, unequivocally and strongly condemned, laid a solid foundation in the fight against terrorism.


He said Mongolia had become party to all 13 counter-terrorism instruments and was carrying out an extensive legal reform to bring its body of national laws into line with international norms.  He added that it was important to intensify United Nations efforts to assist States in training in law enforcement fields and he joined those who appealed for more resources toward that end.


HASSAN SALEH ( Lebanon) said his country condemned terrorism, which represented one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.  Lebanon had ratified 12 of the 13 United Nations counter-terrorism instruments and conventions and was in the process of ratifying the remaining one; it joined the consensus in the adoption of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which it considered as a good step forward.


He said the Strategy contained important elements that reflected some, but not all of Lebanon’s concerns.  He cited the recognition in the Strategy of the legitimate right of peoples to resist an occupying power, which he said, therefore, clearly differentiated between terrorists and those practising that right.  The Strategy, he went on, also recognized the need to address the root causes of terrorism, including prolonged unresolved conflicts.


He said the Strategy recognized the existence of State terrorism, which was manifested by blatant violation of the sanctity of civilians, and the use of prohibited munitions as cluster, vacuum, phosphoric or uranium depleted bombs.  For an entire month, he added, his country’s cities, towns, and villages had been pounded with thousands of those munitions.  A World Health Organization report had put the number of casualties among Lebanese civilian population at 1,200 killed, with 4,092 injured.  The number of those who fell victim to unexploded ordnances after the cessation of hostilities was 133.  He said reports of international human rights institutions further indicated that 40 per cent of the victims were children.  The number of displaced persons during the Israeli aggression reached well over 900,000.


He said the United Nations Global Strategy failed to mention the necessity of defining terrorism.  Lebanon supported the review of the Strategy periodically, and reiterated the central role of the General Assembly in the fight against terrorism.


AGUIBOU DIALLO ( Mali) said terrorism was a threat to peace, security and development.  It eroded the rule of law and undermined the authority of public institutions.  Terrorism had the greatest impact on civilians.  The international community must give itself the means to protect populations against terrorism.


He said he welcomed the adoption of the Global Strategy.  It was an apt recognition of the threat of terrorism to international peace and security.  The conclusion of a comprehensive convention on terrorism would be a further welcomed addition.


Effectively combating terrorism, he went on, could not be separated from its root causes.  Also, any definition of terrorism must draw a clear distinction between terrorism and the legitimate right to self-determination.  He stressed the need for technical assistance to certain countries to reinforce their national and regional capacities to counter terrorist activities.


DZIUNIK AGHAJANIAN ( Armenia) said her country successfully cooperated with the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committees, and had submitted its second report on the Implementation of the Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism.  She said the visit to her country, last summer, of the group of experts from the resolution 1373 committee was extremely useful, since discussions included the possibilities for enhanced terrorism-related capacity-building in Armenia.  She said her country believed that prevention was the best defence in spreading the scourge of terrorism, through education and awareness-raising, as well as improved legislation.  It paid great attention to the training and re-training of the officials working in ministries and agencies dealing with anti-terrorism.  She expressed gratitude to the United States and other partner countries for their assistance.  She said the root causes of terrorism should be addressed in order that anti-terrorist efforts could succeed.


DUNCAN LAKI MUHUMUZA ( Uganda) aligned his country with the statement to the Committee yesterday by the Gambia on behalf of the African Group.  He said terrorism was a cancer that had to be eradicated.  It was imperative that the malady must first be clearly defined.  A definition was needed to distinguish terrorist acts per se from other situations.  His delegation was aware that that called for patience, flexibility and compromise.  However, given the magnitude of the threat, that should be a small price to pay.


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