Prior to the adoption of resolution 1373 (2001) and the establishment of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, the international community had already promulgated 12 of the current 16 international counter-terrorism legal instruments. However, the rate of adherence to these conventions and protocols by United Nations Member States was low.
As a result of the attention focused on countering terrorism since the events of 11 September 2001 and the adoption of Security Council resolution 1373 (2001), which calls on States to become parties to these international instruments, the rate of adherence has increased: some two-thirds of UN Member States have either ratified or acceded to at least 10 of the16 instruments, and there is no longer any country that has neither signed nor become a party to at least one of them.
Between 1963 and 2004, under the auspices of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, the international community developed 13 international counter-terrorism instruments which are open to participation by all Member States. In 2005, the international community also introduced substantive changes to three of these universal instruments to specifically account for the threat of terrorism; on 8 July of that year States adopted the Amendments to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, and on 14 October they agreed to both the Protocol of 2005 to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and the Protocol of 2005 to the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf.
The General Assembly has focused on terrorism as an international problem since 1972 and, through the 1980s, addressed the issue intermittently through resolutions. During this period, the Assembly also adopted two instruments related to counter-terrorism: the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents (in 1973) and the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages (in 1979).
In December 1994, the Assembly again directed attention to this issue through a Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism (A/RES/49/60 ). In 1996, a supplement to this Declaration (A/RES/51/210 ) established an Ad Hoc Committee to elaborate an international convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings and, subsequently, an international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, to supplement related existing international instruments, and thereafter to address means of further developing a comprehensive legal framework of conventions dealing with international terrorism. This mandate continued to be renewed and revised on an annual basis by the General Assembly in its resolutions on the topic of measures to eliminate inernational terrorism.
During the past decade, Member States completed work on three more counter-terrorism instruments covering specific types of terrorist activities: the 1997 International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings; the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. The last of these was adopted in April 2005 and opened for signature on 14 September 2005, the first day of the General Assembly’s World Summit. During that three-day high-level meeting, it was signed by 82 Member States.
It is also within the framework of the Ad Hoc Committee that Member States have been negotiating a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism since 2000.