DISCUSSION OF MEASURES TO COMBAT INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM CONTINUES IN LEGAL COMMITTEE19971113
Speakers Call for Cooperation in Extradition, Prosecution; State Terrorism, Limited Capacity of Small States Also Addressed
The Sixth Committee (Legal) continued its discussion of measures to combat international terrorism this afternoon, with a number of representatives urging increased international cooperation to combat the problem.
The representative of Israel called for international cooperation in such areas as information exchange, tracking funds and armaments and the elimination of terrorist infrastructures. He said there should also be increased cooperation in the extradition and prosecution of terrorist suspects. He noted that since 1994, Israel had seen more than 170 men, women and children killed in terrorist attacks within its borders, while the number of injured was in the thousands.
All States should strictly fulfil their respective international obligations and take effective measures to suppress terrorism, said the representative of China. In particular, States should establish criminal jurisdiction over terrorist crimes and prosecute or extradite the terrorists in accordance with their domestic judicial procedures.
On the question of State terrorism, the representative of Pakistan said it was particularly ignoble when it was used against liberation movements. A convention on terrorism should make no exceptions for any form of terrorism. He vigorously condemned the perpetration of State terrorism in Indian-held Kashmir. The struggle for the inalienable right to self-determination could not be suppressed through fear and terror.
Highlighting the problems of small States, the representative of the Maldives said they had limited capacity to protect themselves from terrorism. Consequently, their sovereignty was not only held hostage, but could also be more easily usurped. That was evident from the many incidents in which a handful of mercenaries had attempted to rob a small State of its sovereignty. The Maldives had nearly been a victim of that less than a decade ago.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Algeria, Tunisia, El Salvador, Malaysia, Ukraine, Colombia, Turkey and Nigeria.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 14 November, to continue its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism.
Committee Work Programme
The Sixth Committee met this afternoon to continue its consideration of its agenda item concerning measures to eliminate international terrorism. (For background information, see Press Release GA/L/3060, issued earlier today.)
DANIEL TAUB (Israel) said in recent years, terrorism in Israel had found a new atrocity -- the suicide bomber. In July this year, two suicide bombers had blown themselves up in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, killing 13 people and injuring 178. Last year similar acts had been committed on crowded buses in Jerusalem and in a shopping centre in Tel Aviv. Since the adoption of the General Assembly's 1994 Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism, Israel had seen more than 170 men, women and children killed in terrorist attacks within its borders, while the number of injured was in the thousands.
International terrorism was a business, and could not operate without a steady flow of funds, he said. Terrorist fund-raising in charitable guise was a doubly heinous crime. Israel had in the past year declared illegal four extremist organizations engaged in terrorist fund-raising under the mantle of charitable activities. All States should take similar action. Israel was party to most of the existing international instruments relating to terrorism.
Noting that terrorists could not operate in a vacuum, he said that States should not, from within their borders, sponsor terrorism and permit terrorist groups to act with impunity. Countries which granted sanctuary to terrorists and their supporters and which also permitted the free flow of terrorist funds and the traffic of arms and equipment used in terrorist attacks, were accomplices to terror and should be made to pay the price. He urged international cooperation in the fight against terrorism, such as information exchange, tracking of funds and armaments, elimination of terrorist infrastructure and, on the legal level, intensification of cooperation with regard to extradition and prosecution. Israel welcomed the draft convention on the suppression of terrorist bombings and was encouraged by the speed of the progress achieved by the Ad Hoc Committee drafting it. States fighting terrorism should be shown that they and their people were not alone in that battle, he concluded.
ADBALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that because they had been able to use new communications and weapons technologies, terrorists had been able to take advantage of inefficiencies in international law, as well as the impotence of some States, to pose a threat to international peace. Terrorism constituted a real danger to the fundamental freedoms of individuals, impeded States' social and economic development and caused the collapse of governmental institutions. Last year's General Assembly action to eliminate terrorism had shown the inadmissibility of terrorism and gave new momentum to the consideration of the issue.
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The campaign against terrorism was a common struggle among nations because it threatened international human rights and stability, he went on. The draft convention on terrorist bombings reflected the universal condemnation of terrorism and showed the more active involvement of the United Nations, which had made terrorism one of its main priorities. The General Assembly had indicated an operational approach to eliminating terrorism based on specific measures and actions to promote international cooperation and mutual assistance. That cooperation was essential to combat the globalization of terrorist activity. Countries should step up their efforts to ensure that a convention was adopted before the end of the present session to help eradicate terrorism and terrorist bombings.
SAMIA LADGHAM (Tunisia) said acts of terrorism were growing. In the name of dubious objectives, barbarous acts were being committed, undermining society and its institutions. The Ad Hoc Committee drafting the convention on the suppression of terrorist bombings should in the near future tackle all aspects of terrorism. She drew attention to an appeal by the countries of the Non-aligned Movement for an urgent conclusion of an international convention against terrorism. Considerable work had been done by the Ad Hoc Committee. It was regrettable that it had not been able to complete its work because of differences over some of the provisions of the draft text. Tunisia would continue to work for the completion and adoption of the convention.
Tunisia, like others, would also like to see the scope of the future convention broadened to cover the manufacture of explosive devices, she said. The fight against terrorism had been made a priority within the United Nations under the reforms introduced by the Secretary-General. The crime of terrorism was not necessarily linked to drug trafficking. The United Nations Centre for International Drug Control in Vienna should be given more financial and human resources to strengthen its activities. In addition, a liaison office of the Centre should also be established at Headquarters to act as a channel of communication between it and the Sixth Committee.
GAO YANPING (China) said drafting and adopting international legal instruments to prevent and eliminate international terrorism was merely a first step in fighting such criminal acts. All States should strictly fulfil their respective international obligations and take effective measures to suppress terrorism. In particular, they should establish criminal jurisdiction over terrorist crimes and prosecute or extradite terrorists in accordance with their domestic judicial procedures so as to successfully prevent, combat and eliminate international terrorist activities.
On the convention to suppress terrorist bombings, she recalled that during the Working Group meetings on the topic, the participant delegations were not able to come to an agreement on certain articles of the draft convention. Furthermore, some draft articles submitted to the Sixth Committee for consideration did not reflect the general practice in various countries and could not be widely accepted by States. Despite these difficulties, the
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Ad Hoc Committee should finish work on the draft Convention as soon as possible. To the extent possible, States should conduct bilateral or multilateral consultations so that agreements may be reached on issues that were not agreed upon by the Working Group.
LAURA CRUZ (El Salvador) said her country had instituted a number of laws on the local level to combat terrorist activity and it had participated on the regional level on similar initiatives. It was party to the May 1997 convention meant to improve the exchange of information between countries to prevent and eliminate terrorism. El Salvador had also participated in hemispheric as well as Central American cooperation efforts. Such efforts attempted to bring countries together through a single model of regional security to combat all criminal activities with international affects.
She said her delegation supported international instruments to combat terrorism with the hope that those would identify needs and fill the gaps in international law. It was also important that those instruments and conventions included the acts of armed forces of a State when those actions violated provisions of the United Nations Charter. Efforts should be taken to conclude, as promptly as possible, the debate on a draft convention on the suppression of terrorist bombings and move toward adoption.
SALWANI ABDULLAH (Malaysia) said Malaysia was concerned with the increasing incident of acts of terrorism, particularly against diplomatic agents and the hostage taking of United Nations personnel, as reported in the report of the Secretary General on the Work of the Organization. It was reported last year that 47 staff members of the United Nations were held hostage for various periods of time. Recognizing the inherent risk associated with their duties, Malaysia urged the international community to come up with necessary measures to guarantee and safeguard the security and safety of the people in that category.
She said terrorism should not be stereotyped to acts, individuals or groups alone; it should also encompass any unlawful act of States, especially actions of military forces other than those allowed under the international law of armed conflict. There appeared to be some double standards when it came to the application of an international legal instrument against acts of terrorism. Those discrepancies should be stopped and the draft convention on terrorist bombings should not exclude the unlawful acts of military forces of States; such States should be held accountable for their illegal activities.
FATHMATH REENA (Maldives) said that small States like hers were susceptible to terrorism, and had limited capacity to protect themselves from that scourge. Consequently, their sovereignty was not only held hostage, but could also be more easily usurped. That was evident from many incidents in which a handful of mercenaries or a gang of bounty hunters had attempted to rob the sovereignty of small States. Maldives had been close to becoming a victim less than a decade ago. It regarded the 1989 International Convention
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against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries as contributing immensely to the strengthening of international security.
Maldives believed that the international community should counter the deplorable acts of terrorism. Cooperation should be strengthened to ensure that terrorism in any form was not tolerated. States should also pledge to refrain from organizing, instigating or participating in terrorist acts within or outside their borders. Maldives had acceded to a number of international conventions relating to terrorism and was firmly committed to regional efforts to combat it.
TETYANA ZHMACHENKO (Ukraine) said her delegation fully supported the Sixth Committee's initiatives to eliminate international terrorism and terrorist bombings. At the same time, further impetus should be given to the preparation of an effective international instrument on nuclear terrorism. The growing popularity of nuclear substances among representatives of the criminal world in recent years called for a strong response on the part of the international community to any attempts designed to use such substances. However, there was a tendency to introduce legal instruments pertaining to terrorism only after a significant international incident or incidents had already taken place. That tendency should be overcome.
In the case of nuclear terrorism, she added, the consequences of inaction or delay could be disastrous for the whole world. In that regard, her delegation expressed appreciation to the delegation of the Russian Federation for presenting a draft convention on nuclear terrorism and for its efforts in initiating additional steps aimed at strengthening international cooperation in that field.
LUISA MARIA GIRALDO (Colombia) said her delegation agreed with the statement made on behalf of the Rio Group by the representative of Paraguay. Colombia was deeply concerned about the question of terrorism, and her delegation appreciated the information provided in the Secretary-General's report on the subject. Noting that the scope of the draft convention to suppress terrorist bombings was limited, she said a global instrument that would cover other manifestations of terrorism was required. Consequently, Colombia supported a call recently made at Headquarters by the Countries of the Non-Aligned Movement for an international convention against terrorism.
Colombia was a victim of terrorist attacks, specifically targeted at its oil resources, she said. It had followed with keen interest the work of the Ad Hoc Committee drafting the convention on the suppression of terrorist bombings. It regretted that the Committee had not completed its work but was hopeful that it would soon negotiate a convention with wide acceptability.
YESIM BAYKAL (Turkey) said the draft convention on the suppression of terrorist bombings was different from the former anti-terrorist conventions because it focused on the very act of bombing which was the most common
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manifestation of terrorism. The convention would also be a political statement to the international community on the increase of cooperation between States in the fight against terrorism. However, the extradition provisions of the convention could have been formulated in a manner to guarantee that individuals responsible for terrorist bombings were tried and extradited. In some cases terrorists were neither tried nor extradited because there was no legal obligation on the States involved or because of lack of cooperation between those States.
During the discussions in the Ad Hoc Committee meetings to elaborate the draft convention, there was a polarization between two groups of States, he observed. On the one hand, were the States that experience terrorism and on the other, the States that did not encounter terrorism and sometimes were in a position to try or extradite the person committing the terrorist acts. The latter attitude was one of the main reasons for a lack of cooperation between States. If the purpose of having an item on terrorism on the agenda and elaborating legal instruments was to eliminate the scourge of terrorism, then all States should demonstrate the required flexibility and try to see the issue through the eyes of the States suffering from terrorism.
AHMED KAMAL (Pakistan) said there were ongoing efforts in his country's region to eliminate terrorism, including implementation of the Regional Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism by the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation. Being victims of deeply shocking acts of terrorism, Pakistan fully and painfully understood the horror and repercussions of that heinous crime. His country was devoting the maximum national effort to overcome that evil. It was fully resolved to apprehend the criminals expeditiously and to bring them to justice. He strongly condemned terrorist activities in all their forms, whether perpetrated by individuals, groups or States and irrespective of the motivations involved.
He added that a draft convention on terrorism should make no exceptions for any form of terrorism, including State terrorism. That was the most ignoble form, particularly when it was perpetrated against liberation movements, he said. His Government vigorously condemned the perpetration of that policy in the Indian-held Kashmir. The struggle for the inalienable right to self-determination could not be suppressed through fear and terror. He strongly condemned use of State power for such suppression and the use of violence against innocent civilians. The struggle of liberation movements had to be recognized as a legitimate right.
ABDUL BIN RIMDAP (Nigeria) said that terrorism had been facilitated by easy access to sophisticated lethal explosive devices as well as conventional arms sold by death merchants in the name of free trade. More disturbing was that perpetrators of terrorist activities had been allowed safe sanctuaries outside the borders of their native countries. That had been the case when a domestic Nigerian flight was hijacked in late 1993 and forced to land in
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Niamey. His country had also witnessed instances of recent bomb blasts in some areas.
The aim of the terrorists, with their foreign backers, was to create a state of terror in the general public and sow fear among them as well as undermine the government. For those reasons, it was incomprehensible that the international community allowed the perpetrators of such acts to hide under the cover of the currently imprecise international law on terrorism.
On the draft convention on the suppression of terrorist bombings, he said that article 5 should be modified to include the word "vessel" after aircraft to take account of offenses committed on board ships as well as aircraft.
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