8 October 2013
General Assembly
GA/L/3454

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

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Sixth Committee

4th Meeting (AM)


All Measures to Combat Terrorism Must Observe International Law,


Sixth Committee told during Second Day of Debate

 


Despite Calls for ‘Hard Decisions’, Differing Views

On Draft Convention’s Definition of State Terrorism Persist


As the Sixth Committee (Legal) continued its debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism, delegates insisted that all courses of action must remain within the framework of international law.


Rejecting unilateral acts against States and the use of force under the pretext of combating terrorism, Ecuador’s representative stressed that any measures adopted outside the framework of the United Nations Charter, including extrajudicial executions, were illegal and unlawful.


“Terrorism is a transgression on the sovereignty of nations”, said Venezuela’s delegate, describing it as an avoidance of the peaceful resolution of conflicts and a denial of the rule of law.  However, claims to justify State terrorism and to unduly apply the pretext of legitimate defence, as well as certain “abusive” Security Council resolutions, ought to be condemned.


In a similar vein, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that top priority should be placed on ending terrorist acts against sovereign States; aggressions under the pretext of “the war on terror” could not be justified.


Azerbaijan’s representative pointed out that the absence of a clear definition of terrorism in international law was hampering efforts to bring individual terrorists and organizations to account, as well as States that promoted or financed terrorism.  He reminded delegates of the large numbers of arms which had accumulated beyond the reach of international control, and the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors which posed a serious threat to international peace and security.


Concurring, Uganda’s representative said, “we must be prepared to take the hard decisions”, including assigning a comprehensive definition to terrorism.  Yet, as delegations spoke, the difference in views was evident.


Welcoming the progress made to finalize the draft comprehensive convention, Thailand’s delegate urged that it contain a clear and precise definition of terrorism without reference to “State terrorism”.  Alternatively, the representative of Bangladesh sought a comprehensive definition of terrorism that clearly distinguished between terrorism and the legitimate struggle against colonial domination, foreign occupation and the right to self-determination.


The persistence of terrorist attacks despite years of effort, as well as the financing of terrorism, was also of concern to speakers.  Nigeria’s representative spoke of attacks by Boko Haram starting in 2009 that had disrupted normal life in parts of the country, and which had resulted in untold hardship for Nigerians from all walks of life.


Morocco’s representative noted that while the international community had achieved significant progress in northern Mali, terrorist activity persisted in the Sahel, the Maghreb and West Africa.  In order to better understand the relationship between terrorists and organized crime, he proposed expanding the activities of the Working Group on the Sahel to include the Atlantic Coast.


Indeed, the financing of terrorism through transnational criminal activity was of concern to many, with Serbia’s delegate singling out organized crime as one of the most serious security threats to his region.


Also speaking today were representatives of Egypt (on behalf of the African Group), Iraq, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Iran, India, Yemen, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Eritrea and Uruguay.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 9 October, to conclude its debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism and to commence its discussion on the rule of law.


Background


The Sixth Committee (Legal) met today to conclude its consideration of measures to eliminate terrorism.  (For background see Press Release GA/L/3453.)


Statements


IBRAHIM SALEM (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that because the payment of ransoms to terrorist groups constituted one of their main sources of financing, Member States needed to cooperate in addressing the issue.  In addition, inter-State collaboration must be further strengthened through expanding assistance in investigation and prevention of such acts, and in the apprehending of terrorists.  As well, the African Group welcomed initiatives that encouraged cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations.  Those initiatives, including the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative, elaborated by the African Centre for Study and Research on Terrorism and the United States’ Africa Center for Strategic Studies and the Madrid Declaration and Plan of Action on combating terrorism in West and Central Africa, were important ways of strengthening the capacity of African countries to adopt coordinated approaches on countering terrorism.


SALWAN SINJAREE ( Iraq) said that despite the progress made by the United Nations over the past decades towards eliminating terrorism, terrorists still struck.  There was a need to review everything that had been achieved and to take the necessary steps to qualitatively address what was not working.  In particular, it was important to address the reasons for the attacks: poverty, inequality and the denigration of other faiths.  Most importantly, the measures to combat and suppress terrorism must be taken within the framework of international law.  Any actions taken outside that framework raised questions as to what values were really being supported.


BORIS HOLOVKA (Serbia), noting that his country was party to 14 of the 18 international counter-terrorism instruments, said that regional security threats derived mainly from violent extremism and organized crime.  An integrated national counter-terrorism strategy, to be supported by an implementation action plan, was under preparation.  Amendments to criminal code and procedure were bringing them into line with international standards.  In addition, terrorism had been more clearly defined.  In addition, a national risk assessment on terrorist financing threats and risks based on World Bank methodology had been undertaken.  United Nations technical assistance in several areas would be helpful, he said, including the training of prosecutors and judges in counter-terrorism prosecutions, with a focus on human rights law and due process.


GLENNA CABELLO DE DABOIN (Venezuela), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, stated that “Terrorism is a transgression on the sovereignty of nations. It avoided the peaceful resolution of conflicts and denied the rule of law…”.  However, claims to justify State terrorism and unduly apply the pretext of legitimate defence, as well as certain “abusive” Security Council resolutions, ought to be condemned.  The convention to be adopted should achieve a fair balance that would not qualify, as a terrorist act, the exercise of peoples’ right to self determination, a right consistent with the principles of international peace and security.  She expressed support for a high-level conference on the matter regardless of the outcome of the current session.


KOKI MULI GRIGNON ( Kenya) said his country was just coming to terms with the “cowardly” attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall, for which Al-Qaida and Al-Shabaab had claimed responsibility.  Similar attacks carried out in Nigeria, Pakistan and Iraq showed that extremist groups were adopting new strategies to spread violence. He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to all regional and international counter-terrorism instruments, and called for more cooperation to implement the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  Kenya had created a new counter-terrorism centre and was working within the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to support that country’s Government.  Urging more interfaith dialogue, he called for Member States to double their efforts towards finalizing the comprehensive convention.


USMAN SARKI (Nigeria), joining the statements of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement and noting the increase of terrorist attacks worldwide, said that his country, too, was a victim of terrorism, with attacks since 2009 by the Boko Haram terrorist group which targeted security forces and civilians alike.  Normal life had been disrupted in parts of the country resulting in untold hardship for Nigerians from all walks of life.


In its response, he said, the Government was trying to ensure that security force operations were carried out with minimal hardship to innocent civilians. Further, steps were being taken, both nationally and in collaboration with international partners, to address the socio-economic challenges in the area where Boko Haram’s activities were most widespread.  Nigeria’s experience demonstrated the viability of collaborative efforts.  In closing, he stressed that the successful elaboration of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism depended on the support and cooperation of Member States.


YOUSSEF SALEH ALHAFEZ (Saudi Arabia), aligning with the statements of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement, pointed out that his country had been a target of terrorist attacks and stressed that the scourge was not disappearing.  Thus, all efforts must be made to face up to new waves of terrorism.  That would only be possible by tackling its deep-rooted causes through development, education, and promoting the rule of law.  Further there was a difference between indiscriminate terrorism and the struggle of peoples under foreign occupation for their legitimate right to self-determination.  The international community must focus on defining terrorism so that serious steps could be taken towards the drafting of a counter-terrorism convention and improving the ways and means to fight that evil, including at a financial level.


PATRICIO TROYA (Ecuador), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said a distinction must be drawn between terrorism and the legitimate right of people to self-determination.  It was also necessary to identify and expunge the causes and factors that could lead to terrorism.  Rejecting unilateral acts against States and the use of force under the pretext of combating terrorism, he stressed that any measures adopted outside the framework of the United Nations Charter, including extrajudicial executions, were illegal and unlawful.  Further, the existing differences in the current debate were of concept and not merely semantic that could be resolved only through an open and transparent debate.  Reiterating the position shared by many delegations, he expressed full support for convening a high-level conference in parallel and irrespective of any progress made on the convention.


ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh) expressed full support for the early conclusion of the draft convention and said it should include a comprehensive definition of terrorism which, through consensus, would clearly distinguish between terrorism and the legitimate struggle against colonial domination, foreign occupation and the right to self-determination.  Further, the convention should also address the root causes of terrorism, including economic disparity and deprivation, political subjugation and exclusion, prolonged and unresolved conflicts, neo colonialism, and the absence of the rule of law, among others.


KIM YONG SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said top priority should be placed on ending terrorist acts against sovereign States, as aggressions under the pretext of “the war on terror” could not be justified.  Armed forces attempting to overthrow the Government in Syria constituted State-sponsored terrorism.  He expressed support for the convening of a high-level conference on terrorism, aimed at identifying root causes and measures to remove them.  His Government was a signatory to global anti-terrorism conventions and had recently ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.


MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) said that, in efforts to strengthen counter-terrorism efforts at the African level and, particularly in the Sahel, his country had made a concerted approach through various cooperation mechanisms, including the Working Group on the Sahel, which it co-chaired.  Welcoming the liberation of northern Mali from terrorist control, he urged that the root causes of the instability be addressed, in line with the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.  He also called for the comprehensive convention to be concluded, adding that the definition of terrorism should be in line with the Charter.  Convening a high-level conference on terrorism would help reach consensus on such a text.  He also welcomed measures adopted at the Strategy’s third biennial review.


MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) said his country was suffering from terrorist attacks under various forms, including State terrorism.  Selective or double-standard approaches in dealing with those acts should be rejected, as they could undermine international trust.  Therefore, a unified approach was needed.  Some States had taken a discriminatory stance towards terrorism.  A clear example had been the delisting of a terrorist group that had killed thousands of Iranians.  He urged States to “dare” to work together in addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, welcoming initiatives that promoted dialogue among civilizations, cultures and religions.


ABDERRAZZAK LAASSEL (Morocco), associating with the statements of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that a regional approach supported by international mechanisms under the aegis of the United Nations, particularly through the Global Strategy, was the best way forward.  Welcoming the Secretary General’s initiative to convene a second high-level meeting on the Sahel, he noted that while the international community had achieved significant progress in northern Mali, terrorist activity persisted in the Sahel, the Maghreb and West Africa.  He proposed expanding the activities of the Working Group on the Sahel to include the Atlantic Coast in order to better understand the relationship between terrorists and organized crime.  Morocco’s experience showed that apprising the public of measures taken by the authorities, along with democratic reforms that placed human development as its central pillar, was a satisfactory approach to extremist violence.


ARUN JAITLEY ( India) strongly supported all United Nations efforts to strengthen international and regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism, underscoring that his country had been in the forefront all such worldwide initiatives.  However, effective implementation of the Global Strategy required greater cooperation.  Urging a strengthened normative United Nations framework for addressing terrorism, he called for expanding legal instruments and enforcement efforts to destroy terrorist safe havens.  He also stressed a focus on preventive aspects.  India had strengthened its strategic, legal and operational framework to fight terrorism, and was party to 13 global conventions and protocols.


DUNCAN LAKI MUHUMUZA ( Uganda) said that to fight terrorism, “we must be prepared to take the hard decisions”, including assigning a comprehensive definition to terrorism. The conditions under which terrorism thrived also must be addressed, including poverty.  For its part, Uganda, under the aegis of AMISOM, had fought against Al-Shabaab in Somalia.  He urged the global community to assist in capacity building, to ensure that AMISOM forces could pursue terrorists.  He also pressed Somalia to create institutions with the capacity to deal with terrorists who viewed that country as a safe haven.  Finally, he called for addressing the issue of toxic-waste off the coast of Somalia, which terrorists could recycle in their quest for weapons of mass destruction.


ALI MOHAMED ABDULLAH ALMAKHADI (Yemen), aligning with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated the need for greater cooperation among Member States to eliminate terrorism, and the importance of reaching a conclusion on a global convention that provided a clear and general definition of terrorism.  On a national level, although it had taken measures to combat terrorism and had entered bilateral conventions with other States, Yemen continued to face serious threats.  Criminal perpetrators of terrorist acts had of late transgressed all lines of decency against his country’s armed forces.  He called on the international community to provide material, logistical and technical support, as well as a program and plan of action to help Yemen combat terrorism and address its root causes effectively.


MOHAMMAD TAQI KHALILI (Afghanistan), associating with the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that despite the major transformation in Afghan society towards democratization, improvements in health and education sectors, the building of its infrastructure, and advances in fundamental freedoms and liberties, the Afghani people still suffer from the horror of terrorism.  Nevertheless, his country’s commitment to defeating that scourge at the national, regional and international level was as strong as ever. Its counter-terrorism approach constituted a core pillar of its national security strategy.  Afghanistan was also working closely with its immediate and distant neighbours, bilaterally and trilaterally, and through other initiatives, such as the Istanbul Process. Echoing the call of other speakers, he urged Member States to achieve the early conclusion of the comprehensive convention.


TOFIG MUSAYEV ( Azerbaijan) said that the accumulation of large numbers of arms beyond the reach of international control and the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors posed a serious threat to international peace and security.  Priority should be given to the implementation of the Global Strategy and to all Security Council resolutions, including the prompt and effective application of sanctions imposed by the Council.  Further, the absence of a clear definition of terrorism in international law was hampering efforts to bring individual terrorists and organizations to account, as well as States that promoted or financed terrorism.  In that context, he said he was determined to make every effort to reach an agreement on a comprehensive convention.  Indeed, the central theme of Azerbaijan’s presidency of the Security Council had focused on strengthening international cooperation in implementing counter-terrorism obligations.


ABDULAZIZ A MA ALAJMI ( Kuwait) said the international community must deal with the root causes of terrorism, including violations of human rights and lack of good governance.  Anxious to support humanitarian efforts in the world and committed to helping refugees, he said that earlier this year his country had, at the request of the Secretary-General, hosted a donor conference which had succeeded in collecting more than $1.5 billion in pledges, $300 million of which was Kuwait’s contribution, for Syrian refugees and United Nations agencies working in that regard.  Stressing the importance of a draft convention, he urged all countries to make a concerted effort to conclude negotiations on the convention while clearly defining terrorism and distinguishing it from the right of peoples to self-determination.


ARAYA DESTA (Eritrea), joining the statements of the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the recent attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi demonstrated that the region was still prone to terrorist acts, despite serious efforts to combat it.  Cooperation on information sharing and exchange of best practices among countries of the region and other stakeholders must be intensified.  Eritrea had been a victim of terrorism and had long experience combating it.  In that regard, prudence must be exercised that threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State should not be invoked under the pretext of combating terrorism.  Any action taken must be consistent with international law.  The use of mainstream media for disinformation was not acceptable.


JOSÉ LUIS CANCELA (Uruguay), associating with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that his country was well on the road to combating terrorism as evidenced by a report by the Counter-Terrorism Committee, which had visited Uruguay in November 2012 and had met with Governmental authorities charged with counter-terrorism.  Although legislation still required updating and funding of terrorism monitored, among other things, he expressed confidence that the visit would not stop at diagnosis but would lead to solving problems.  Voicing support for establishing a working group that would finalize the analysis of the articles of the convention, he pointed out that little remained to be done, including settling on a definition of terrorism and the scope of acts to be included in the convention.  He urged all delegations to exert a stronger effort in order to conclude the convention at its sixty-ninth session.


NORACHIT SINHASENI (Thailand), joining the statements of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that one of the most effective ways to fight terrorism was to eliminate its financial resources by establishing anti-money laundering laws.  Thailand systematically had strengthened its jurisdiction and control, reviewed its laws and introduced new ones in that area.  In June of this year, the Financial Action Task Force recognized his country’s success, announcing that it was no long subject to the ongoing Anti-Money-Laundering and Counter-Financing Terrorism compliance.  Noting new and complex phenomena related to terrorism, such as the use of weapons of mass destruction, the emergence of home grown terrorism and cyber-terrorism, among others, he welcomed progress made to finalize the draft comprehensive convention and urged that it contain a clear and precise definition of terrorism without reference to “State terrorism”.


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For information media • not an official record