|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
1st & 2nd Meetings (AM & PM)
Events of 11 September 2001 Noted by General Assembly’s Legal Committee
as Framework for Debate on Measures against International Terrorism
As the Sixth Committee (Legal) today considered measures to eliminate international terrorism, delegates commemorated the tenth anniversary of the events of 11 September 2001, and urged a conclusion to the draft articles of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that would clearly define terrorism and address its root causes.
At the Committee’s opening meetings of the current General Assembly session, several delegates spoke on the need for a definition of terrorism, including the representative of Kazakhstan, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), who stressed that any definition must show the distinction between terrorism and the right of a people under occupation to self-determination.
Terrorists had become globalized, recruiting in one country, raising funds in another, and operating in others, said the representative of India. He said terrorism had to be fought globally across all fronts.
The delegate of Chile said it was essential to determine and eliminate the factors that could breed terrorist acts, including political, ethnic, racial and religious intolerance, as well as the social and economic “divide” among nations.
South Africa’s delegate said that efforts to combat terrorism should be driven by the loss of lives and the protection of human rights. Echoing his statement, several delegates spoke of the importance of ensuring that counter-terrorism efforts were aligned with the United Nations Charter, international law and human rights.
Noting that her country had just experienced its first terrorist attack, the representative of Norway stressed that the country’s response was to promote and strengthen democracy and to emphasize openness, understanding and tolerance.
Introducing the report of the Ad Hoc Committee, its Vice-Chairperson said it was time to renew engagement in reaching agreement on the outstanding issue of the draft comprehensive convention, and urged delegates to muster the political will to ensure the completion of the draft convention.
Hernán Salinas Burgos of Chile, in his capacity as Chairperson of the Sixth Committee, also introduced the programme of work, which was adopted.
Turning to the organization of the Bureau, he introduced the vice-presidents who had been elected on 22 June 2011. They were Petr Válek of the Czech Republic, Ceta Noland of the Netherlands, Mattanee Kaewpanya of Thailand and Jacqueline K. Moseti of Kenya. Ms. Moseti was elected as Rapporteur.
The Committee then took up its programme of work (document A/C.6/66/1) which stated that 23 items had been allocated to the Committee for its consideration. Working groups were established for the items: administration of justice at the United Nations, measures to eliminate international terrorism, and the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction. Rohan Perera was elected Chairperson of the Working Group on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism. Informal consultations would be held on Chairpersons for the other working groups.
Encouraging sponsors and coordinators to submit draft resolutions as soon as possible, and no later than one week after completion of the debate on each issue, the Chairperson noted that the Committee would proceed to take immediate action. The delegate from Argentina expressed concern about time constraints for considering the eight requests for observer status. The Chairperson said that the programme of work considered the need for efficient use of time and resources.
In the debate today on measures to eliminate international terrorism, speaking on behalf of regional groups were the representatives of New Zealand (also for Canada and Australia); of Iran, for the Non-Aligned Movement; of China, for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; and of Qatar, for the Arab Group.
Speaking in their national capacity were the representatives of Egypt, Lebanon, Senegal, Switzerland, Kuwait, Guatemala, United Arab Emirates, China, United Republic of Tanzania, Russian Federation, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liechtenstein, Jordan, Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, Belarus, United States, Malaysia, El Salvador, Peru, Monaco, Azerbaijan, Syria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Israel.
The delegates of Algeria, Syria and Israel spoke in right of reply.
The Committee will meet again tomorrow, Tuesday, 4 October, at 10 a.m., to conclude its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism. It will then take up the matter of requests for observer status.
The Sixth Committee (Legal), at the first two meetings of its current session, today began its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism, for which it had before it two reports of the Secretary-General.
The first, on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/66/96), contains information on measures taken at the national and international levels, based on submissions from Governments and international organizations. It contains a list of international legal instruments, and provides information on workshops and training courses on combating crimes connected with international terrorism.
Information was included in the report from the following Member States: Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Jamaica, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Qatar, Russian Federation, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. An addendum to the report includes information received from Belarus, Burundi, Kuwait, Lithuania, Ukraine and Venezuela.
The following organizations from the United Nations system submitted relevant information: International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO); International Maritime Organization (IMO); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and the World Bank.
Information was received from other organizations, including the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Southern African Development Community (SADC), League of Arab States, Organization of American States (OAS) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Concerning the status of international legal instruments relating to the prevention and suppression of international terrorism, the report finds that, currently, there are 33 instruments, 18 universal (14 instruments and four recent amendments) and 15 regional, pertaining to the subject. [The status of international legal instruments is available at the Sixth Committee website.]
Among the universal instruments are the 1963 Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, the 1997 International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, as well as the 2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
Regional instruments include the 1999 Convention of the Organization of the Islamic Conference on Combating International Terrorism, the 2001 Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism, the 2002 Inter-American Convention against Terrorism and the 2005 Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism.
The report of the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/201 of 17 December 1996 (document A/66/37), covering the fifteenth session held at Headquarters from 11 to 15 April 2011, recommends that the Sixth Committee, at the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly, establish a working group with a view to finalizing the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, and also to continue to discuss the item included in its agenda by Assembly resolution 54/110 concerning the convening of a high-level conference under United Nations auspices.
The report notes that, during a two-day general exchange of views, speakers drew attention to particular incidents, unequivocally condemning all terrorist acts, regardless of their motivation, as criminal and unjustifiable, wherever and by whomsoever committed. They stressed that terrorism posed a threat to international peace and security, endangered the territorial integrity and stability of States and threatened the full enjoyment of human rights. It was also emphasized that all measures taken to combat the scourge must conform with international law. It was pointed out that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, culture, nationality, race, civilization or ethnic group, and that those attributions should not be employed as a justification for the commission of terrorist acts or the adoption of counter-terrorism measures.
Some delegations, the report recalls, emphasized that terrorism should not be equated with the legitimate struggle of peoples under colonial or alien domination and foreign occupation for national liberation and self-determination. It was also stressed that terrorism was a multifaceted phenomenon, requiring multidimensional and coordinated approaches, as well as comprehensive counter-terrorism strategies. Delegations underlined the central role of the United Nations as the most appropriate framework for the coordination of global counter-terrorism efforts, as well as the crucial role it played system-wide. Some pointed out the gravity of the question of financing. Others welcomed the approach taken by the Security Council in resolution 1904 (2009) to apply the obligations on the freezing of funds and assets and on the payment of ransoms to terrorists.
Concerning the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, the report says delegations reiterated their attachment to the principle of concluding work and adopting the text by consensus. They noted that the draft would fill legal gaps and supplement the existing sectoral conventions, thereby strengthening the global counter-terrorism framework. In that context, several speakers expressed regret that there was still no consensus on the outstanding issues surrounding the draft, and urged the utmost flexibility in negotiations.
On outstanding issues, the report recalls that several speakers reiterated that the proposed draft convention should contain a definition of terrorism that would provide a clear distinction between terrorist acts covered by the text and the legitimate struggle of peoples in the exercise of their right to self-determination or who were under foreign occupation. Some felt that the convention should address terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including State terrorism, and that activities undertaken by the armed forces of States not regulated by international humanitarian law should also fall within its scope. Throughout, the Coordinator’s proposal of 2007 was discussed, with the Coordinator recalling the main concerns raised by delegations during negotiations.
On the question of convening a high-level conference, the report notes that the delegation of Egypt reiterated the proposal made in 1999 that such a gathering should formulate a joint organized response to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations; it was stressed that despite all efforts, there was still a dire need to set up an action plan within the United Nations, dealing with both legal and procedural aspects, which would guarantee active international cooperation to achieve the common aspiration of eliminating terrorism. The Coordinator outlined the aims of such a conference, followed by some expressions of support for its convening as a linkage to the ongoing discussions for a draft convention, while others held to the view that such a conference should be considered after the completion of the negotiations on the text, as an excellent opportunity for stocktaking.
At its first meeting today, the Sixth Committee was to address procedural matters regarding its programme of work (document A/C.6/66/1) and the organization of its work (document A/C.6/66/L.1).
Introduction to Report of Ad Hoc Committee
ANA CRISTINA RODRIGUEZ-PINEDA (Guatemala), Vice-Chairperson, introducing the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on measures to eliminate terrorism, said that since the General Assembly met last month, at least two meetings devoted to “Measures to eliminate international terrorism” had been convened, including the Symposium on International Counter-Terrorism Cooperation and a special meeting commemorating the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Security Council resolution 1373 (2001).
She then urged the session to be “an opportunity to renew our engagement” in reaching a general agreement on the outstanding issue of the draft comprehensive convention. In spite of these unresolved issues, she observed much progress had been made over the last few years. The current document reflected the current state of negotiations, and she believed this would facilitate the work and efforts of the Working Group. Quoting the Chairperson of the Group, she encouraged the delegations to “seriously consider” all components to be included in a possible accompanying resolution, and she called upon the Committee to “summon the political will” necessary to bring a draft comprehensive convention to a conclusion. This would, she said, strengthen the existing multilateral legal framework for combating international terrorism.
ALICE REVELLE ( New Zealand), speaking also for Canada and Australia, said that in the decade since 11 September 2001, terrorism had remained a challenge for all countries. The international community, however, was better equipped to deal with terrorism than it was 10 years ago, and collective action had made it harder for terrorists to operate. Urging all States to become party to, and to implement, the comprehensive convention on international terrorism, she emphasized that the international community still had to “close remaining gaps” in this framework.
Noting that the Security Council adopted resolutions 1988 (2011) and 1989 (2011), splitting the Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions regimes, she welcomed improvements to these resolutions that would make the Council’s terrorist sanctions listing and de-listing processes more transparent and effective. Specifically, she pushed for greater involvement by States in de-listing decisions, clearer timeframes, and a strengthened role for the Ombudsperson.
Attaching great value to the creation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum, she said it was through implementation, rather than modification, of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy that it would fulfil its role.
She said the Asia-Pacific countries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand had been engaged in regional counter-terrorism cooperation and capacity-building; they encouraged the United Nations to streamline reporting obligations on implementation for small States.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, said he “unequivocally” condemned all forms and acts of terrorism and those acts were in violation of international law and endangered the territorial integrity and stability of States, as well as national, regional and international security. However, he continued, terrorism should not be equated with the “legitimate struggle of peoples” under colonial rule or foreign occupation, for self-determination. Such occupation should continue to be denounced.
He urged that all States continue to combat terrorism through various efforts, among others, ensuring the prosecution of perpetrators, preventing the financing or assisting of terrorist acts against other States, or allowing their territories to be utilized for the activities of terrorist groups. He said the use or threat of force by any State against any non-aligned country under the pretext of combating terrorism or pursuing its political aims, was objectionable and that the NAM rejected such actions.
He called for all States who had not yet done so to ratify or accede to the 13 international instruments relating to combating terrorism, and to observe and implement provisions in international, regional and bilateral instruments to which they were a party. He also called upon the Security Council sanctions committees to streamline their listing and de-listing procedures in the service of due process and transparency. Reiterating past requests for the Organization to hold an international summit conference, he pointed out that this was crucial to the international community developing an organized response to terrorism in all its manifestations. He emphasized the importance of finalizing a Comprehensive Convention for Combating International Terrorism and said all States should cooperate in resolving all outstanding issues toward that end.
LI BAODONG (China), speaking for the Shanghai Cooperative Organization, expressed full support for a full-scale implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and all international anti-terrorism conventions. He urged that efforts to condemn terrorism become “an intrinsic part of the dialogue between religions and civilizations”.
He said that because of the relationship between terrorism and organized crime, specifically drug-related crime, strengthening regional security in Central Asia, with a focus on Afghanistan, was essential in any efforts to combat international terrorism. In this regard, he called for the creation of a wide network of regional and international partnerships to be implemented, and said all relevant decisions of the Organization should be supported.
Concluding, he noted that many of the Shanghai Cooperative Organization agreements, notably its Convention Against Terrorism, contributed to the development of an international legal framework, and he called for the earliest agreement on the draft comprehensive convention.
YOUSEF SULTAN LARAM ( Qatar), speaking for the Arab Group, stressed the Group’s condemnation and denunciation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Although great progress had been made in combating terrorism over the past decade, persistent challenges remained. Collective action was essential to combating terrorism, since the phenomenon transcended national boundaries. To encourage collective action, the Arab States had adopted the Arab Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism of 1998, and continued to coordinate regionally through the Arab League.
He said international efforts to combat terrorism should be consistent with the principles of international law, international legitimacy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Adoption on the United Nations of the Global Counter-terrorism Strategy would be central to international counter-terrorism efforts. He called for facilitating the exchange of best practices and lessons learned between countries and providing needed technical assistance to countries. These efforts should be guided by principles of cooperation, transparency and equitable treatment among different countries.
He spoke of the need to address the root causes of terrorism, such as poverty, unemployment, political and historical oppression and foreign occupation. He called for an end to incitement to hatred, and said attempts to link terrorism with any particular religion or ethnic group were provocative and contributed to the spread of terrorism.
He said an important step to combating terrorism would be to find a clear definition of the phenomenon; it was necessary to distinguish between terrorism and legitimate resistance movements against foreign occupation. The term terrorism should not be politicized to serve specific purposes. Reaching consensus on the draft comprehensive convention should include several elements: differences in the definition of terrorism and the right of occupied peoples to achieve freedom; determination of the legal means to identify terrorists and the laws that punish them; avoidance of unfair and wrong linkage between terrorism and Islam; cultural differences between peoples; the importance of constructive dialogue between cultures; and the promotion of a culture of understanding and acceptance by others.
AIDAR SHAKENOV (Kazakhstan), speaking for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), condemned all acts and manifestations of terrorism and stressed that a coordinated approach was essential for the international community to achieve results in its efforts to combat terrorism. Such a comprehensive strategy needed to address the root causes of terrorism, such as the unlawful use of force, foreign occupation, political and social injustice and denial of human rights and a people’s right to self-determination, among others.
Continuing, he said that any convention on this matter should be considered a living document, and be examined and updated regularly. He expressed grave concern with regard to the payment of ransoms, noting that it was a main encouragement to terrorism, and he urged Member States to ban such payments to terrorist groups.
He affirmed the commitment of OIC to the process of the draft comprehensive convention and its continued willingness to consider the latest proposal. He stressed that any definition of terrorism must show the distinction between terrorism and the right of a people under occupation to self-determination. He called for a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations to develop a joint response to terrorism in all forms and manifestations; in this regard, a United Nations Centre for Counter-Terrorism, funded by Saudi Arabia and to be built in New York City, would be an important component in the international effort to combat terrorism.
IBRAHIM SALEM ( Egypt) said the persistence of the terrorist threat, as shown by recent incidents in Abuja, Norway and Mumbai, indicated the need for greater and better coordinated efforts to combat the phenomenon. Dealing with it solely through military and security means would not produce the desired results. Regional and international cooperation was essential for implementing the 13 conventions and the Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
He said addressing the root causes of terrorism and eliminating conditions conducive to its spread were of paramount importance; double standards must be avoided; foreign occupation and State terrorism must be ended; and the right of peoples to self-determination must be recognized. The capacity of countries to reduce poverty and offer educational opportunities, must be enhanced, with tolerance and understanding promoted.
Any counter-terrorism measures should comply with international law, he added. The preservation of the right to freedom of expression and efforts to combat incitement to terrorist acts were of particular importance. Attempts to link terrorism with any religion, culture or ethnic group must be strongly condemned.
The Global Strategy on Counter-Terrorism was the guiding comprehensive document for our collective efforts. Those efforts should be developed to face new terrorist threats, such as the growing links with international organized crime and the risks of nuclear terrorism and cyberterrorism. In this regard, he welcomed the establishment of a United Nations Centre for Counter-Terrorism.
ALI KARANOUH ( Lebanon) said that despite the achievement of international efforts to combat terrorism, the international community had not yet reached its intended results. “While we continue to try to define terrorism,” he said, “innocent victims fell every day.”
He said Lebanon had suffered from mobile terrorist explosions, with the loss of some leading politicians and intellectuals, and affecting life in the country’s cities. Lebanon had confronted terrorist groups that continued to attempt to destabilize the country; in particular, it had suffered from war crimes and crimes against humanity carried out by Israel, which could only be described as terrorism.
He said terrorism carried no religion, culture or nationality, and he cautioned against what he called the efforts of some parties to link terrorism with religions, particularly Islam. Several Muslims were victims of September 11, and many Muslims lost their lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan every day. Islam was represented by the more than 1 billion Muslims throughout the world, not the small faction that exploited Islam.
Fully respecting freedom of expression, he condemned terrorist acts and provocative acts that incited and promoted terrorism. He welcomed the Security Council’s efforts to enhance transparency and due process, particularly the work of the Al-Qaida sanctions committee. The Counter-Terrorism Centre would help to build the capacity of regional counter-terrorism efforts.
ABDOU SALAM DIALLO (Senegal), recalling all victims of terrorist acts and specifically noting the victims of the events of 9/11, and of the recent bombing of the United Nations Headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria, stressed that such acts were the most serious threat to international peace and security. Thus, coordinated efforts were essential to ensure a successful response, and he underscored that no State could win the battle alone. The review of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy in September 2010 was a great step, and he believed that the task force would be instrumental in harmonizing the concerted efforts of Member States.
He said it was also necessary to promote dialogue and understanding between religions and cultures; fostering a better understanding between peoples would lead to greater tolerance and would assist in the eradication of the causes that led to terrorism.
States were the main actors in this struggle, he pointed out. Thus, it was necessary to address the ability of each State to respond to such acts and conditions. A legal framework would further aid in the efforts to address terrorism, and he appealed to Member States to “spare no effort” to reach an agreement.
NICOLAS STUERCHLER ( Switzerland) said that although the United Nations had come a long way in responding to terrorism around the globe since 11 September 2001, the Committee’s responsibility to conclude a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism remained unfulfilled. The 2007 compromise proposal of the Coordinator included in article 2 the long-sought-after, long-eluded and very detailed definition of terrorism. He said article 3 explained the relationship between the convention and other branches of international law, preserving the integrity of international humanitarian law. The activities of military forces of a State outside of an armed conflict would remain under the scrutiny of international criminal law and human rights law.
He said it would seem that the problems associated with the 2007 draft convention were often overrated, while its advantages had not been appreciated. Stating that the Coordinator’s proposal was the only one put forward, and noting that the number of delegations that had indicated their willingness to go along with the 2007 proposal continued to grow, he said that outstanding issues, in particular those on substance, could now be fruitfully discussed within the Working Group. He reiterated his proposal to combine the conclusion of the convention with the other item within the mandate of the Working Group: the high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations.
MOHAMMAD ABDALLAH AL-ATEEQI ( Kuwait) called terrorism an unjustifiable act that must not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group. Combating terrorism required the mobilization of international efforts that guaranteed respect for human rights and the rule of law. Counter-terrorism efforts must address the causes of terrorism through actions such as poverty elimination, sustainable development, good governance and the establishment of peaceful coexistence between religions.
Calling for completion of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, he said it should include clear definitions of terrorism and State terrorism. That convention must distinguish between terrorism and the legitimate resistance and right of peoples to repel aggression. He spoke in support of the peaceful settlement of disputes according to the United Nations Charter, international law and international humanitarian law, and in this regard, he said the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of States guaranteed their sovereignty and independence.
He said crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians, including the unlawful occupation of their land, the expansion of illegal settlements and the ongoing blockade of Gaza, were examples of State-sponsored terrorism. The Security Council should adopt a resolution referring the investigation of those crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court.
ANA CRISTINA RODRIGUEZ-PINEDA ( Guatemala) observed that the 9/11 events impacted the policy of every country and of every international and multilateral institution; combating terrorism was now in the forefront, and much had been achieved. However, it was increasing with more frequency, with the United Nations as a target. “Achievement is evident, but facts show we must do more,” she said. Many tools were now available for effective cooperation, and, in implementing strategies, it was important to take into account each region’s needs. She said she offered solidarity to all victims of terrorism and their families, and welcomed the progress made in humanizing them, and hoped that that awareness would lead to “some practical machinery” to provide assistance to them.
She stressed that terrorism could not be combated by military forces alone and that any action taken needed to be in accord with international law and humanitarian law. The current situation indicated that Member States needed to “step up” their efforts to conclude the draft convention. A comprehensive document would help avoid impunity of perpetrators and would facilitate international and regional cooperation and legal assistance to that end. A definition of terrorism, she said, would be provided in the convention. She said she remained convinced that the 2007 proposal presented by the Coordinator, Maria Telalian, was the best way to reach a compromise, and she urged that the delegates go beyond existing differences. In this regard, she said, she stood “ready to move forward, to listen and get results”.
When the Committee met again this afternoon, ANNIKEN ENERSEN ( Norway) noted that her country had just experienced its first terrorist attack on its own soil, and stressed that her country’s response was to further promote and strengthen all aspects of democracy, and to emphasize openness, understanding and tolerance, which were crucial in preventing the emergence of terrorism. She called for the strengthening of the Counter-Terrorism Task Force and its role in capacity-building and international coordination and implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Turning to her country’s involvement with the task force through the “Integrated Assistance for Countering Terrorism” project, she also stressed the importance of capacity-building on both regional and local levels, noting that the unique structure of the project aimed to implement the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy while ensuring a well-coordinated system at country level.
Continuing, she said that while her country was firmly committed to the implementation of all relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, it was also important to strengthen procedural rights for individuals who were listed as terrorists and subject to sanctions. She called for the adoption of a comprehensive convention against terrorism, stating that the facilitator’s proposal could provide a basis for consensus, and she urged that a high-level conference be convened to further these efforts.
ALI AMER ALSHEMAILI ( United Arab Emirates) urged all States to enhance their efforts in combating the increasing impact of terrorism on international security and peace. He also urged that all regional activities in this matter be based on the Charter of the United Nations. Calling for an effective, well-balanced implementation of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy, he said that a periodic review of the Strategy would ensure an end to terrorism “once and for all”. He expressed hope that all States would show the necessary political flexibility in order to address the pending matters of the draft convention so that it could be adopted, and come into effect. He supported the convening of a conference where the definition of terrorism and the root causes — as well as the rules, ways and means of addressing terrorism — could be addressed and an action plan developed for implementation.
In his country, he said, comprehensive efforts were being taken to address anti-money-laundering, drug trafficking, small arms trafficking and the illegal exploitation of natural resources in regional States. In addition, stringent measures to ensure the monitoring of ports were in place to prevent transport of sensitive material so as not to fall into the hands of terrorist groups, thus preventing nuclear proliferation. Indiscriminate violence against citizens was not limited to just one religion or nationality, and he called upon all States to end their conflict and bring forth understanding so that international law, human rights and other positive practices in the prevention of terrorism could be strengthened.
GUO XIAOMEI ( China) said that although progress had been made, the scourge of terrorism had bred and spread in some regions over the past decade. The diverse tactics and methods of attack by terrorists posed a new challenge to the international fight against terrorism. This fight should be carried out in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law, with equal emphasis on prevention and punishment. The symptoms and root causes of the problem should be addressed — eradicating poverty and social injustice that served as a “breeding ground for terrorism”.
She said China was actively creating a harmonious social environment through integrated efforts to promote economic development, to raise the level of education and to bolster the legal regime. The country had been an active participant in the United Nations’ counter-terrorism efforts, including the Al‑Qaida Sanctions Committee, the Taliban Sanctions Committee, the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force. A comprehensive counter-terrorism convention was a useful and necessary supplement to the existing international legal framework against terrorism, and the Chinese Government would remain engaged in the drafting work of this convention with a cooperative and constructive approach.
OMBENI SEFUE (United Republic of Tanzania) said “acts of terrorism and the sense of insecurity they spawn continue to be felt around the world”. Condemning the recent terrorist attack on the United Nations premises in Abuja, Nigeria, he expressed solidarity with the Government of Nigeria and the United Nations.
He said the recurrence of terrorist acts reminded us that no country was immune from the “scourge” of terrorism; that global threat required a globally concerted and coordinated response. Calling attention to the fact that Tanzania was a party to nine universal counter-terrorism instruments and one regional instrument, he reiterated a commitment to cooperate with the United Nations and all Member States in taking strenuous efforts to combat terrorism and to address its underlying causes.
A universally accepted legal framework on terrorism would provide the level of cooperation and coordination essential for effective and coordinated action by Member States. Endless controversies continued to prevent progress on a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism; the stalemate on that convention needed to be broken now. Convening a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations would facilitate possible solutions to the broad political issues that underlay efforts to finalize that convention.
DANIIL MOKIN ( Russian Federation) said that despite the recent curbing of terrorism, the threat was still serious. The United Nations must be the central entity in addressing the problem. The link between organized crime, in particular, drug trafficking and terrorism, was of great concern. Likewise, he noted the link between piracy and terrorism, as pirates were now sharing financial resources with terrorist groups. He urged that in all efforts to combat terrorism, the Charter of the United Nations and all international law be adhered to. He said that the Counter-Terrorism Strategy was a main instrument on the international platform, and he commended the importance of coordinating traditional methods while removing underlying root causes of terrorism and protecting human rights. He stressed the importance of those components to be implemented in practice.
He said the strengthening of partnerships between States was another important component in the fight against terrorism, and his country was putting forth a partnership initiative, working with the Secretariat, to implement the Global Strategy, the regional implementation of which was also important. He said his country participated in regular regional joint exercises and training. Offering full support to the Security Council and the General Assembly in their work on this matter, he urged the General Assembly to focus on the legal basis for combating international terrorism. “It would be a breakthrough” if there was an adoption of such a legal framework, he noted in conclusion, and he pledged his country’s commitment to participate to this end.
ZÉNON MUKONGO ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) noted the counter-terrorism measures adopted at the international level, including those adopted by IMO, UNESCO and the World Bank. He said his country had participated in regional and subregional counter-terrorism actions and had coordinated with the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism. He spoke in support of SADC initiatives to monitor the terrorist threat in the African region, the region’s model law for terrorism and the African Union’s condemnation of ransom payments to terrorist groups and recognition of the setting up of a regional Committee and joint operational group in charge of facilitating the exchange and processing of information related to terrorism.
He said the fight against terrorism must not become a negation of human rights. The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s constitution enshrined the freedom of religion as law, and allowed different religious faiths to coexist peacefully. The promotion of the rule of law was opposed to terrorist practices. The transposition of international instruments should be activated at the State level. Negotiating a draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism must be given full attention.
STEFAN BARRIGA ( Liechtenstein) reaffirmed the commitment to contribute to the fullest extent to the international fight against terrorism, including through cooperation with relevant United Nations bodies. Liechtenstein had ratified all 13 universal counter-terrorism treaties and their amendments. It would continue dialogue with the Security Council’s counter-terrorism committee. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the international community made great strides in improving its cooperation.
He said it was time for the Sixth Committee to assess, and, if necessary, reconsider, its place in the ever-expanding United Nations response to international terrorism. The committee made important contributions, in particular, by drafting numerous international conventions in the field of counter-terrorism. He noted, in particular, the 1997 Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism Financing and the 2005 Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. Now, it was necessary to finalize the negotiations on the draft comprehensive convention. He commended the efforts of the Coordinator, Maria Telalian of Greece, during earlier sessions of the Sixth Committee and Ad Hoc Committee, and said the majority of delegations would be in a position to support her compromise proposal and that the legal issues had been clarified time and again.
EIHAB OMIASH ( Jordan) stressed that terrorism was an international phenomenon and not associated with any one specific religion or belief. Terrorism was not the problem of any one country or region, and his country would continue to combat that serious problem and participate with all parties.
On a national level, anti-money-laundering laws were in effect; 11 Security Council resolutions were being implemented, and there were stricter border controls. His country had established a national institution supporting the unique circumstance of the victims of terrorism. He said he looked forward to the adoption of the comprehensive draft, and he heralded the establishment of a new United Nations Centre for Counter-Terrorism.
MOINUL HASSAN AHAMED ( India) said the whole world had been scarred by terrorism during the past decade. Terrorists had become globalized, recruiting in one country, raising funds in another, and operating in others. They had developed global supply chains and transnational financial support systems; their use of sophisticated technologies had allowed them to operate across continents in real time. Terrorism had to be fought globally across all fronts, unshakably and decisively by the international community.
He said States must ensure that their territories were not used for terrorist establishments or training camps, or for the preparation or organization of terrorist acts. The 12 international conventions and five protocols adopted under the United Nations were fundamental tools in combating terrorism. India was a party to 13 international conventions and protocols and chaired the Security Council’s Counter Terrorism Committee. At the national level, the country had strengthened its domestic legislation and had concluded 40 bilateral treaties on extradition and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. To monitor and cooperate with international partners, India had established a Financial Intelligence Unit and was a member of the Financial Action Task Force.
Speaking in support of the “outcome document” adopted by the Special Meeting of the Counter Terrorism Committee on 28 September 2011, he said the international community should focus on strengthening the anti-terrorism legal framework. Although States were required to implement the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, the strategy would not be complete without conclusion of the comprehensive convention on the matter.
KOSAL SEA ( Cambodia) said terrorism remained one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and had a deleterious effect on trade and other economic activities. Cambodia aligned itself with the statement made by Viet Nam on behalf of all 10 Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and had last year ratified the ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism. The Government fully supported United Nations efforts to forge a global coalition against terrorism.
He said Cambodia warmly welcomed the results of the Symposium on International Counter-Terrorism Cooperation hosted by the UN Secretary General on 19 September last; it further advanced international cooperation in fighting terrorism. The urgent adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism would further strengthen and broaden the existing legal frameworks to fight all terrorist acts. He spoke of actions being taken domestically to fight terrorism, including the strengthening of Cambodia’s legal system by enacting several anti-terrorism laws and regulations and strengthening inter-agency cooperation.
JAKKRIT SRIVALI ( Thailand) said that in order to effectively counter terrorism, mutual efforts of Member States in monitoring of, and preparing for, future trends in terrorism were important. He was particularly concerned about some developments in that regard, namely: terrorist usage of weapons of mass destruction; the continued emergence of home-grown terrorism and self-radicalization; the spread of violent extremist beliefs among youths; and the growing threat of “cyberterrorism”. He underlined the importance of accelerating asset seizure, related to the financing of terrorism.
He said the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism might fill gaps in existing treaties and enhance international efforts to bring perpetrators to justice and, therefore, called for an early conclusion of the convention. As for regional cooperation, he hoped that the ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism would serve as an impetus for other regional groupings to enhance State-to-State collaboration against terrorism in a more in-depth manner.
YUKIHIRO WADA (Japan) said that, although there was progress in counter-terrorism efforts, the threat of terrorism remained serious everywhere in the world, and continued efforts to prevent terrorist attacks were necessary both at the national and international levels. The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy should be steadily implemented. He said he welcomed the establishment of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum and the symposium on International Counter-Terrorism Cooperation hosted by the Secretary-General on 19 September. He also attached great importance to the adoption of resolutions 1988 and 1989 in the Security Council.
He said Japan continued to attach importance to the early adoption of the draft comprehensive convention, with a view to strengthening the common legal framework to combat terrorism. He commended the efforts of the Coordinator, Ms. Telalian.
YURY NIKOLAICHIK ( Belarus) said the growth of transnational crime called for increased counter-terrorism action at the international level, complemented by State-led initiatives. The international legal regime for combating terrorism needed to be strengthened, and Belarus stood ready to make suggestions on how to revise the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. In this regard, it was important to have a clear definition of terrorism that would eliminate its arbitrary interpretation.
He said States needed to be flexible and constructive when negotiating the Comprehensive Convention. More countries should accede to the instruments for countering terrorism and take preventive efforts, including eliminating the use of the Internet for terrorist activities. National, regional and subregional efforts should be coordinated, and global mechanisms should be adapted for specific regions. He said no region had immunity against terrorism; it could be eliminated only by working together at all levels.
MARY B. DEROSA ( United States) expressed support for the central role of the United Nations in coordinating efforts by Member States to counter and prevent terrorist acts. She said “the evolution of the UN’s legal, policy and institutional counter-terrorism efforts over the past decade has been remarkable.” She noted the recent establishment of the United Nations Centre for Counter-Terrorism and the development of universal instruments that established a thorough legal framework for combating terrorism. She said she supported and promoted the ratification and implementation of all of them, without which, they would not be effective.
She drew attention to six instruments concluded over the past decade: the 2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism; the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material; the 2005 Protocols to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation; and the 2010 Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Relating to International Civil Aviation and its Protocol. In the United States, there were current efforts to ratify those instruments; Congress was holding a hearing on legislation to ratify the first three this week. In addition, she said the United States remained willing to work with other States to finalize the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
JAMAL SHARIFUDDIN JOHAN ( Malaysia) said terrorism could not be effectively countered by the use of force alone, even in combination with prosecutions under the criminal justice system. The underlying root causes must be adequately addressed, whether poverty, disenfranchisement, foreign occupation or any other. Malaysia had consistently emphasised the need for preventive and rehabilitation programmes. He described his country’s counter-terrorism efforts, and said that it encouraged all States to seriously consider the draft convention, and to decide on a way forward.
Malaysia, he continued, supported Egypt’s proposal to convene a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations to address current and emerging challenges to global counter-terrorism efforts. The UN should lead the way in counter-terrorism initiatives, and new initiatives should not burden Member States with multiple reporting mechanisms.
JOAQUIN A. MAZA MARTELLI ( El Salvador) said terrorism was a tangible reality that affected thousands of people around the world, and he expressed his condolences to the families of the victims. Noting that while great progress had been made, he said there was a “latent need” to adopt all measures to prevent and combat terrorism, and they must be based on the respect of the rule of law and all human rights.
In this regard, he continued, the United Nations constituted an important force in the debate. He supported the unifying trend by the international community and the need for the adoption of the draft comprehensive convention, and stated that it would become a fundamental instrument in fighting terrorism based on the rule of law.
GONZALO BONIFAZ ( Peru) said no circumstances justified terrorist acts. Peru was a victim of terrorist acts, and terrorism had become a global phenomenon.
He asked why, after more than 10 years, it had not been possible to reach an agreement on the text of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. What was the impact of that lengthy negotiating process without attaining a specific outcome?
He said that, although the draft convention upheld international humanitarian law, a new perambulatory paragraph was fundamental to determine the scope of the convention. The right of peoples to self-determination was a pillar of the United Nations, and the convention had to reflect that.
OCTAVIO ERRAZURIZ ( Chile) strongly supported the “holistic approach” of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. He said measures to combat terrorism must always be conducted in strict observance of international law; actions taken outside the international legal framework were unjustifiable. He said preventative measures were also important in combating terrorism. It was essential to determine and eliminate the factors that could breed terrorist acts, including political, ethnic, racial and religious intolerance, as well as the social and economic “divide” among nations. He called for judicial cooperation and exchange of information among the police and intelligence agencies of all States to prevent the financing of terrorist attacks. He also urged the conclusion of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, regretting that 10 years of negotiations had not yet produced agreement.
DIRE TLADI ( South Africa) said the 9/11 attacks brought home the fact that terrorism affected the entire world and that no one was immune from its effects. Because of the destructive results from terrorist acts, there was no need to resort to “theoretical legal principles” and arguments in order to justify the necessary actions against terrorist acts; what ultimately should drive efforts to combat terrorism were the loss of lives and the protection of human rights. “If human rights are at the basis of counter-terrorism measures, we should ensure that all our efforts are consistent with the human rights of the individual,” he said.
He said that, although he welcomed the Security Council’s decision to enhance due process protections, he hoped the Security Council would continue to improve fairness of the terrorism-related sanctions regimes. He called for the finalization of the comprehensive convention, noting that many delegates expressed a willingness to conclude the negotiations on the basis of the 2007 coordinator’s draft. “These negotiations cannot continue forever,” he said in conclusion, stating that while debates continued, lives were lost.
ISABELLA PICO (Monaco) noted three important events in the international fight against terrorism: the General Assembly’s recognition on 9 September this year that the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States were a turning point in the global fight against terrorism; the recent seminar held by the Security Council on 19 September, five years after the adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy; and the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s adoption of resolution 1373.
Those United Nations occurrences showed that the international community was resolute in its struggle against terrorism. Cooperation would be necessary for continued progress in fighting terrorism, within a foundation of human rights. However, terrorist acts were still being committed around the world, indicating the need for the conclusion of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
SAMIR SHARIFOV ( Azerbaijan) spoke of his country’s active participation on national, regional, bilateral and international counter-terrorism platforms, developing action plans and adopting legislative measures aimed at bringing its domestic law into compliance with international instruments. He underscored the need to address the root causes of terrorism and urged that more efficient measures be taken in that matter.
He said that his country had experienced State-sponsored terrorist attacks in the past and continued to be a target of potential terrorist activities. Stressing that combating terrorism should not be used to target any particular religion or culture, he observed that the absence of a clear definition of terrorism in international law only hampered the efforts of the international community to bring terrorist individuals and organizations to justice. In that regard, he offered support for an agreement to be reached on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism and commended the establishment of a new United Nations Centre for Counter-Terrorism.
MAZEN ADI (Syria), condemning terrorism as unjustifiable criminal acts of aggression targeting individual people and threatening the territorial integrity of States, called for the application of clear standards and approaches by the international community in order to combat it. The term “terrorism” had to be analysed and defined, he said, to delineate between heinous acts and peoples’ action toward self-determination.
He said Syria was a “trailblazer” in standing up to international terrorism, but terrorists continued to execute individuals, members of the military and prominent scientists in his country through acts which undermined domestic stability and security.
State terrorism, he asserted, was the most serious form of terrorism, as flagrantly exemplified by Israel against those in Arab territories, particularly in Gaza, and in the incident against the freedom flotilla in international waters. Those practices should be defined as war crimes, he said.
He said Syria actively combated money-laundering and terrorism financing and was party to regional conventions on terrorism. It would continue to work vigorously within the context of the United Nations Charter to combat terrorism and to conclude the comprehensive convention.
KIM YONG SONGS (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the first requirement in “rooting out terrorism” was the establishment of international relations based on sovereign equality, justice and fair play. Counter-terrorism should not be misused for political purposes under any circumstance. Any acts, such as arbitrarily and unilaterally labelling others a terrorist State, exerting pressure, applying sanctions or using military force, should be totally rejected.
He referred to “aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq” and Israel’s occupation of Palestine and Arab territories as “unilaterally committed under the pretext of counter-terrorism”. He said those were clear examples of State terrorism and human rights violations. There should be a high-level conference on terrorism aimed at properly identifying root causes and taking counter-terrorism measures.
ADY SCHONMANN ( Israel) said that the events of 9/11 brought terrorism to the attention of the international community, offering “important lessons” her country had experienced many times before. She called for the international community to address the elements of incitement to terrorism that was present in schools, houses of worship, and media. Good governance was a strong safeguard against terrorism, and in the presence of the rule of law, terrorist attacks could be averted. In that regard, building State capacity to counter terrorism needed to also establish overall levels of governance and transparency.
Continuing, she expressed concern that discussions on the underlying causes of terrorism within the debate were a “poorly disguised attempt to justify the unjustifiable”, and she urged that issues of intolerance and lack of democracy also be included. She expressed her support for the relevant Security Council resolutions and the Counter-Terrorism Strategy, describing them as a vital framework for confronting terrorism. Concluding, she stated her dismay at statements made by States, in particular Syria, which condemned her country while oppressing their own citizens. She urged the Committee to not become a platform for warfare, but maintain a dignified and professional environment.
Right of Reply
In right of reply, the delegate of Algeria, responding to the statement by the delegate of the Democratic Republic of the Congo about the Joint Headquarters office establishment following the ministerial meeting in March of this year in Algeria, said that four countries were present and established the mechanism to address terrorism. They were Mali, Algeria, Mauritania and Niger.
The delegate of Syria responded to criticism from the delegate of Israel, stating that Israel had “a long history of terrorism”, and the time allotted for the right of reply was not sufficient to recount the highlights of Israel’s activities and violation of international laws.
The delegate of Israel responded that a country that killed its own citizens, such as Syria, should be the last country to speak of that issue. She said Syria’s practices and deeds illustrated its long-standing sponsoring of terrorism and terrorist activities, and she questioned the treatment of its own citizens as they protested across Syria for the right to self-determination.
Responding further, the delegate of Syria stated he spoke of the experience of his country, and he questioned the Israeli delegate’s stance on human rights in light of her country’s activities.
* *** *For information media • not an official record