SIXTH COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN WELCOMES CONSTRUCTIVE SPIRIT PREVAILING DURING TWO-DAY DEBATE ON MEANS TO ELIMINATE INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM

12 November 1998
GA/L/3096

SIXTH COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN WELCOMES CONSTRUCTIVE SPIRIT PREVAILING DURING TWO-DAY DEBATE ON MEANS TO ELIMINATE INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM

12 November 1998

Press ReleaseGA/L/3096

SIXTH COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN WELCOMES CONSTRUCTIVE SPIRIT PREVAILING DURING TWO-DAY DEBATE ON MEANS TO ELIMINATE INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM

19981112 Additional Work Urged on Draft Convention to Suppress Nuclear Terrorism, Support Given for Proposal to Elaborate Convention Curbing Terrorist Funding

The Sixth Committee (Legal) this afternoon concluded its two-day discussion of measures to eliminate international terrorism, reviewed the draft convention for suppression of nuclear terrorism; discussed elaboration of a convention to curb financing of terrorist activities; and spoke of the vital importance of denying terrorists safe haven.

During the discussion, the French proposal for the drafting of a convention for the suppression of terrorist financing received wide support from speakers who viewed it as the next logical step in international cooperative efforts to combat terrorism. The power and the capacity to do harm by international terrorists depended on their financing, the representative of France had said during the debate, pointing out that the proposal was aimed at filling the legal gap in that area.

Many of the 50 speakers during the discussion called for study of the root causes of international terrorism and a concerted effort to see that terrorists were denied safe haven. Others supported the call by the Non-Aligned Movement to hold a United Nations conference on terrorism. The need to arrive at a legal definition of terrorism was also stressed by many speakers, with several emphasizing that it must be broad enough to encompass what they called "State terrorism". Some States favoured a proposal by India to adopt a comprehensive international approach, rather than the current sectoral one, to combat terrorism.

Jargalsaikhany Enkhsaikhan (Mongolia), Chairman of the Committee, welcomed the constructive spirit and pragmatic approach that prevailed during the discussion. There was broad recognition and support for participation in the existing instruments dealing with specific forms of terrorism. He added that the Committee should proceed with informal consultations to try to iron out unresolved issues on the draft articles for the convention on suppression of nuclear terrorism.

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The Committee is currently considering that draft text as part of its ongoing effort to develop an international legal framework of conventions dealing with international terrorism. So far, 11 international conventions on the issue have been adopted, the most recent being the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings.

Speaking in this afternoon's debate were the representatives of Uruguay, Ukraine, Australia, Japan, Haiti, Angola and Syria. The representatives of Israel and Syria exercised rights of reply.

On another matter, the representative of Egypt introduced a draft resolution on the report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization, by which the Special Committee would be asked to consider a working paper on conditions and criteria for applying sanctions and other coercive measures. By the draft, the Special Committee would be asked to review another working paper on United Nations peacekeeping missions and mechanisms for the prevention and settlement of crises and conflicts. The draft also would ask the Special Committee to consider, on a priority basis, the implementation of Charter provisions on assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions and to consider a proposal for the establishment of a dispute-settlement service, as well as proposals on enhancing the role of the International Court of Justice.

The Committee will meet again tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. to begin consideration of the Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Convention of 1949 and relating to the victims of armed conflicts.

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Committee Work Programme

The Sixth Committee met this afternoon to continue consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism, focusing on draft articles prepared by its working group on the convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism. (For background information, see Press Release GA/L/3093, of 11 November).

Statements

JULIO BENITEZ SAENZ (Uruguay) said his country had not been spared the threat or negative consequences of terrorism. Many of its citizens had died as a result of terrorist actions. Uruguay had systematically rejected the practice of all forms of terrorism, as a threat to human rights and international peace and security. He reiterated support for regional declarations which condemned terrorism. He supported the methodology of not trying to define the concept of terrorism, but rather of focusing on those acts considered as crimes.

Terrorist acts could not be considered political, and therefore were not subject to extradition, he said. Neither could the right of asylum be granted to terrorists. His country, like others in Latin America, had a long history of asylum. It was understood that requests for asylum were basically handled by the executive branch, whereas extradition was a judicial procedure. It was conceivable that conflict would arise if a terrorist subject to extradition might be granted asylum by the other branch of government. The issue had, therefore, been addressed during several regional forums. It had been decided that the right of asylum could not be applied in relation to terrorist crimes.

YURIY V. BOHAIEVS'KY (Ukraine) said that year-by-year, the international community developed new elements of an international legal machinery designed to stop terrorist violence and to bring those responsible to justice. Yet, there had been little progress in reducing the scale of terrorist attacks. International efforts must focus on the underlying causes, its deep social roots and historical conditions, as well as on situations that might give rise to international terrorism. In his view, the roots of international terrorism were very similar to those of international conflicts: poverty, inequality, oppression.

The international community should not respond to terrorism, in any circumstances, with another injustice, he said. All actions must be in full conformity with the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter. When the international community or individual Member States needed to take enforcement measures aimed at fighting terrorism, the role of the Security Council should not be minimized. The Council's powers and authority should be fully utilized and its decisions should serve as the legal basis for undertaking such measures.

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The draft convention on nuclear terrorism represented a reasonable compromise between the positions of delegations, he said. However, there was still considerable room for approving article 4, which addressed activities of armed forces during armed combat. He added that the French proposal on terrorist financing was a very timely initiative.

CATE STEAINS (Australia) said the immediate issue before the Committee was the draft text on nuclear terrorism. She welcomed the great progress that had been achieved on the draft. It would be highly regrettable if that progress were to be lost through a re-opening of the draft convention. That would not be consistent with the sense of urgency following the bombings in Dar-es-Salaam and Nairobi. She was well aware that some delegation had expressed concern with parts of the draft. Nevertheless, she felt it represented a balanced text. The draft addressed the criminalization of acts by individuals using and, in some cases, possession and manufacture, for illegal purposes, of some of the most dangerous materials known to humanity: nuclear material and devices.

Referring to the concern over the draft convention's scope, she said, it too represented a balanced compromise. The provision clearly established that the convention would not purport to legalize what would otherwise be illegal. With regard to future measures on terrorism, she welcomed the proposal by France on financing. Australia's commitment to supporting international efforts on terrorism was sharpened by its hosting of the Olympic Games in the year 2000 and its sense of responsibility to ensure the safety of all involved.

HIROSHI KAWAMURA (Japan) said the international community must adopt a unified stand against terrorism as the number of terrorist acts increased. Japan was determined to see that terrorism was fought through all possible means. He stressed the importance of international cooperation in that effort. Legal instruments to counter terrorism must be tightened, he said. Individual governments, working on their own, could not eradicate terrorism.

Japan supported the draft text on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism and hoped the convention would be adopted as soon as possible, he said. Referring to concerns expressed about some definition of terms used in the draft text, he said their interpretation was up to each government. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should be given a role in the convention, as it had a well-established information network, he said. His delegation welcomed the French proposal for an international convention for the suppression of terrorist financing. Japan, however, had reservations about the elaboration of a comprehensive international convention on the suppression of terrorism, called for by several delegations. The necessity and feasibility of such a convention required careful study.

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BEATRICE EUGENE (Haiti) condemned the simultaneous terrorist attacks against the United States Embassies in Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania, and the most recent attack in Israel. She commended the Russian Federation for its original draft text of the convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, and also the work carried out on it by the Ad Hoc Committee and the working group of the Sixth Committee. Her delegation supported suggestions that the draft text should include a provision banning the dumping of nuclear waste and nuclear materials. She said those who financed and sheltered terrorists should not go unpunished. Her delegation welcomed the French proposal for an international instrument to curb terrorist financing.

MARIA ELIZABETH SIMBRAO (Angola) said, given the devastating effects of terrorism, States should not try to work in isolation, but rather through international cooperation. Some countries legitimized acts of terror, helping and protecting groups engaged in terrorist activities against other countries. Some such acts were even carried out against their countries of origin. Those countries provided support by allowing training, financing and even sheltering groups. Instead, those countries should adopt effective and practical measures to prevent and neutralize military actions, which violated the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other States. Interference in internal matters gave rise to State terrorism, one of the most harmful forms of terrorism. She supported the suggestion for a draft convention on financing, as well as the draft convention on nuclear terrorism.

GHASSAN OBEID (Syria) condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and reiterated his country's position that a distinction had to be drawn between international terrorism and the legitimate struggle for national self-determination. Israel's possession of nuclear weapons was threatening to its neighbours. The Arab and Palestinian struggle for their occupied lands was a historic fact which could not be altered to justify Israeli occupation.

Syria supported the Zimbabwe statement on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the call for the convening of an international conference on the elaboration of a comprehensive instrument on terrorism. He said some delegations strongly doubted the capability of individuals to commit acts of nuclear terrorism without the complicity of States. The countries of the Non- Aligned Movement had expressed their concerns about the draft on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism. In the light of the various concerns expressed on the draft, he said an opportunity should be provided for those countries to present proposals. He hoped a consensus could be achieved on the draft text.

He said State terrorism was more dangerous than individual terrorism.

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He regretted that there had not been much time in the working group for consideration of the question, including an acceptable definition of terrorism. He felt the Ad Hoc Committee should review the draft text. The number of ratifications needed for the convention should be higher.

Palestinians, struggling to regain their occupied lands from Israel, could not be called terrorists. Similar struggles were being waged by the Lebanese in southern Lebanon and by Syrians in occupied Syrian Golan. Syria condemned individual terrorism and acts of State terrorism, like those carried out by Israel. Israel continued to flout United Nations resolutions.

Right of Reply

ESTHER EFRAT-SMILG (Israel), exercising her right of reply, said Israel had stated time and again that it would not be first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East. She said the recent memorandum of understanding reached between Israel and Palestine covered issues under discussion in Committee. Among the provisions was an undertaking by the Palestinian Authority to combat acts of terrorism, apprehend individuals suspected of terrorist acts and to prevent incitement to violence.

Concerning Syria, she said Syria must engage in direct negotiations with Israel, under the agreed procedure reached at the Madrid conference.

Mr. OBEID (Syria), also in right of reply, said the representative of Israel had avoided the most important point in his statement -- the occupation by Israel of Arab and Palestinian lands. Syria was ready to resume negotiations at the point left off at the Madrid conference and based on the land-for-peace principle. Israel had to respect international law, by returning the occupied lands.

Ms. EFRAT-SMILG (Israel), again exercising her right of reply, said Israel had worked for peace. It was willing to negotiate a peace settlement with its neighbours. It was also willing to negotiate with Syria without preconditions and on the basis of Security Council resolution 242.

Mr. OBEID (Syria) also exercising a second right of reply, reiterated his country's willingness to resume negotiations with Israel, but was not prepared to reopen issues already covered at the Madrid conference. He again said that Israel was the only country in the region which possessed nuclear weapons and carried out assassinations and acts of terrorism.

Closing Remark

JARGALSAIKHANY ENKHSAIKHAN (Mongolia), Committee Chairman, closing discussion on measures to eliminate international terrorism, said he had noticed a constructive spirit and pragmatic approach from all delegations

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regarding the sensitive issue. There was broad recognition and support for participation in the existing instruments dealing with specific forms of terrorism. He felt that the Committee should proceed with informal consultations to try to iron out those issues with which some States still had difficulties. There was emerging general support for the French proposal for the elaboration of an international convention to curb terrorist financing. He had also noted the views of a considerable number of States favouring a comprehensive approach to combat terrorism, as proposed by India.

Draft on Work of Charter Committee

MOHAMMED GOMAA (Egypt) introduced the draft resolution on the report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (document A/C.6/53/L.6/Rev.1) by which the General Assembly would direct the Special Committee to hold its next session in 1999 (at a date and for a length of time not yet identified). The draft resolution is sponsored by Egypt.

By the terms of the draft, the Assembly would ask the Special Committee, during that session, to continue to consider all proposals concerning the question of the maintenance of international peace and security in all its aspects and to strengthen the role of the United Nations. The Special Committee would also be asked to consider the revised working paper entitled "Basic conditions and criteria for the introduction of sanctions and other coercive measures and their implementation" and another working paper on the draft declaration on the basic principles and criteria for the work of the United Nations peacekeeping missions and mechanisms for the prevention and settlement of crises and conflicts.

The Assembly would ask the Special Committee to continue to consider, on a priority basis, the implementation of Charter provisions on assistance to third States affected by the application of Chapter VII sanctions. It would also be asked to continue its work on peaceful settlement of disputes between States, including a proposal for the establishment of a dispute-settlement service to be used early in a dispute, as well as proposals on enhancing the role of the International Court of Justice. It would further be asked to again examine practical ways and means to strengthen the Court.

By the draft text, the Special Committee would be requested to continue its consideration of proposals concerning the Trusteeship Council.

The Secretary-General would be asked to continue his efforts to identify resources for the completion of the two remaining volumes of Supplement No. 5 to the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and to submit a progress report on the matter to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session.

The Assembly would invite the Special Committee, at its 1999 session, to

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continue to identify subjects for its future consideration as a contribution to the Organization's revitalization and to discuss improvements in coordination with other working groups also involved with reform of the world body.

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For information media. Not an official record.