AD HOC COMMITTEE ON INSTRUMENTS TO COMBAT INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM BEGINS THIRD SESSION19990315 Draft Conventions on Suppression of Acts Of Nuclear Terrorism, Suppression of Financing Terrorism Taken Up
As the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 began its third session this morning, several delegations called for a coordinated international effort to combat the scourge of international terrorism, including its financing.
The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, whose capital city of Dar-es-Salaam was the scene of a terrorist bombing last year, said his country had ample proof that funds had been remitted from outside the country for the execution of the bombing in which 11 people were killed and 100 injured. A convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism was long overdue, he said.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, the representative of Germany said the Union hoped that the draft text on the suppression of financing of terrorism would not only enhance public awareness, but also help to bring to justice those who provided the financial basis for terrorist acts. Referring to a draft text on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, she said there was growing public anxiety about illegal trafficking in radioactive and nuclear materials. Failure to reach consensus on that draft would send the wrong signal to terrorist organizations.
The representative of the United States said the draft convention on the suppression of terrorist financing was especially valuable in addressing one of the threshold aspects of terrorism, rather than bombings or hostage-taking.
Welcoming the draft convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, the representative of India said the danger of such acts was real. India would submit a proposal on a comprehensive instrument to combat international terrorism after the conclusion of work on the two draft conventions currently before the Ad Hoc Committee.
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The observer for Switzerland stressed the difficulty of linking financing and terrorist acts. He also said it should be the Ad Hoc Committee's task to find definitions that would not be overly broad and criminalize individuals who should not be.
Pakistan's representative said delegations should be mindful of the work of genuine charitable organizations. His delegation would present specific proposals on the subject.
Statements were also made by the representatives of the Russian Federation, France, Japan, Mexico (on behalf of the Rio Group), Algeria, Republic of Korea, Viet Nam, Sierra Leone and the Sudan. The United Nations Legal Counsel, Hans Corell, also spoke.
In other business this morning, the Bureau of the Ad Hoc Committee was reconstituted as follows: Philippe Kirsch (Canada), Chairman; Carlos Fernando Díaz (Costa Rica), Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka), and Mohamed Mohmoud Gomaa (Egypt), Vice-Chairmen; and Martin Smejkal (Czech Republic), Rapporteur.
In other action, the Ad Hoc Committee approved its provisional agenda for the session, scheduled to end on 26 March, and agreed to allow the participation of the European Commission, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) as observers.
The Ad Hoc Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 16 March.
Ad Hoc Committee Work Programme
The Ad Hoc Committee Established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996 met this morning to continue work on a draft international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.
On completing its work on the instrument during its third session, the Committee will immediately begin elaborating a draft international convention for the suppression of terrorist financing proposed by France. (For background press release on the session, see Press Release L/2914 of 10 March.)
HANS CORELL, United Nations Legal Counsel, recalled the resolution detailing the Committee's work in the next two years. He said the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, which had been adopted by the General Assembly, had received 43 signatures and two ratifications. He said the Committee's work was scheduled to end on 26 March, but would continue within the framework of the Sixth Committee during the fifty-fourth session of the General Assembly later in the year.
In view of the extremely precarious financial situation in which the Organization found itself, he said, the Ad Hoc Committee was urged to begin its work on time. With regard to the officers of the Committee, he said there was an understanding that Philippe Kirsch of Canada, who had been Chairman for the first and second sessions of the Ad Hoc Committee, should chair the third session.
PHILIPPE KIRSCH (Canada), Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, said the Committee's task was twofold: at the present session, it would continue to elaborate a draft convention for the suppression of nuclear terrorism; and initiate work on a draft international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism -- contained in documents A/C.6/53/L.4 and A/AC.252/L.7 and Corr.1 respectively. He also drew attention to an explanatory note to the draft convention on terrorist financing submitted by France.
He said tomorrow he would present the Committee's work plan for the next few days.
VLADIMIR TARABRIN (Russian Federation) said it would be hard to overstate the importance of the issue that the Ad Hoc Committee had been established to undertake. Terrorism had become a serious destabilizing factor, not only for individual countries, but for the entire world. Dangerous terrorist groups were being provided with the means to acquire sophisticated technology and the very latest weapons, including weapons of mass destruction.
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He said the draft convention had been almost entirely agreed upon and that it was possible to achieve compromise on its scope. It must not be forgotten that the draft before the Ad Hoc Committees was not intended to impinge on those matters that were regulated, or that should be regulated, by other international legal instruments. If there was no consensus on the convention, the wrong signals would be sent to terrorist organizations all over the world.
FRANCOIS ALABRUNE (France) said that the General Assembly had not been able to adopt the draft convention for the suppression of terrorist financing in the same record time as it had approved the Convention on Terrorist Bombings. France had proposed last fall that further negotiations be undertaken on the draft convention, a proposal that had been welcomed by countries from all regions of the world. In reactions from delegations during the debate in the Sixth Committee (Legal), there had been encouraging interest and support. The delegation of France paid tribute to the spirit of open-mindedness and compromise that had been shown by many delegations which had agreed that the draft, though submitted rather late, should be negotiated on a priority basis. France particularly thanked the delegation of India.
He said that, thanks to contacts with other delegations, his delegation had been able to prepare a revised version of the draft. The definition of financing contained in that revised text gave a broad interpretation covering all means of financing -- unlawful means such as racketeering, as well as lawful financing. The draft was aimed both at those who gave the orders and at contributors who were aware of the terrorist nature of the aims and purposes of the recipient organizations. It was not aimed at individuals or at those who made contributions in good faith.
ELKE SCHMITZ (Germany), on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Iceland and Norway, said it was high time the international community addressed the problem in a systematic and comprehensive way. The United Nations had created a system of specific anti-terrorism conventions, each of which dealt with important aspects of terrorism. The new draft convention proposed a further step towards eradicating terrorism by cutting off the financial resources on which the perpetrators of terrorist acts depended.
She said the Ad Hoc Committee must put to an end the apparent respectability of the organizers of terrorism who did not soil their own hands with the blood of the innocent but found willing instruments for their evil purpose. The Committee must also alert those who donated funds for what they believed were charitable and humanitarian purposes, but which were in reality used to finance terrorist acts in other countries. It was hoped that the new convention would not only enhance public awareness about terrorist financing but help to bring to justice those who provided the financial basis for terrorist acts. It would be a challenge for the Committee to formulate a legal instrument
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to cover all aspects of terrorist financing in order to block effectively all channels of funds.
The draft convention on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism was a useful complement to the existing corpus of anti-terrorism conventions, especially to the Physical Protection Convention and the Terrorist Bombing Convention, she said. It provided a comprehensive framework for deferring and criminalizing acts of nuclear terrorism and, specifically, added the elements of assistance and exchange of information. There was a growing illegal traffic in radioactive and nuclear materials and growing public anxiety about it. Failure to reach consensus on the convention would have a negative impact on further convention projects and send the wrong signal to terrorist organizations.
NORITERU FUKISHIMA (Japan) said that his country supported elaboration of a convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, as well as one on the suppression of financing of international terrorism. A strong commitment and coordinated effort at the international level were required to combat international terrorism so that terrorists could have no place to hide. The international community had a long way to go to eliminate terrorism. The focus on combating the financing of terrorism was timely and the French proposal was to be commended. Japan was ready to contribute to shaping the draft convention and ensuring its adoption. Full attention should be paid to the judicial culture of Member States, he said, adding that only that way would there be maximum support for the text.
He also called for an amendment to the definition of financing of terrorism contained in article 2 of the draft text -- to ensure acceptance by a greater number of Member States. He said his delegation would draw attention to other articles in the course of the current session of the Ad Hoc Committee. He also called on Member States to stand together in the fight against terrorism.
SOCORRO FLORES (Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said that terrorism posed a challenge to the international community. International cooperation was necessary to eliminate international terrorism, she said, adding that the Rio Group had participated and supported all initiatives to combat it. At the regional level, it had worked towards that end, while on the global level it would cooperate with others for that purpose. She said it was possible to find a consensus solution for the adoption of the text on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, and they would work with other delegations to reach that goal.
The Rio Group supported the draft on the suppression of financing of terrorism, she said. In spite of the complexities of the draft text, the Group hoped a convention would be elaborated. To facilitate work on the draft text, it would be appropriate for delegations to focus attention on articles directly
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concerning the financing of terrorism. The Rio Group would work towards the achievement of a broad convention that would be acceptable to all.
AHMET ARDA (Turkey) said governments had become more conscious of the need to undertake common action to fight international terrorism. It was not widely understood that no country or region could consider itself immune to terrorism. Since individual terrorist acts threatened the international community as a whole, the response should be a coordinated one. That common understanding had paved the way to the achievement of a substantial framework of legal instruments in the form of various thematic conventions. Turkey had always supported the development and rigorous application of international conventions elaborated under the auspices of the United Nations and related to various aspects of terrorism. It strongly believed that the elimination of terrorism required constant vigilance and effective international cooperation.
He said that all States had an obligation under international law to take effective measures to prevent on their territories all illegal activities of persons, groups or organizations that instigate, organize or engage in terrorist acts directed against the security and citizens of other States.
MANONGI TUVAKO (Tanzania) said that the heinous terrorist bombing which rocked his country's capital city of Dar es-Salaam last year had claimed the lives of 11 citizens. It had also resulted in 100 people being injured and the massive destruction of property. Many in the Committee would recall the simultaneous bombing which had taken place in Nairobi on the same day last year. As the authorities of Tanzania, Kenya and the United States continued with their investigations, a group of individuals were surfacing as suspects. His country had ample proof that funds had been remitted from outside Tanzania and paid to persons suspected of being involved in the execution of the tragic event.
It was in the light of that painful experience that Tanzania wholeheartedly supported the draft presented by France, he said. In the view of his delegation a convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism was long overdue.
AHMET KERMA (Algeria) said his delegation supported the French proposal which would fill gaps in present international instruments aimed at combating international terrorism. He said terrorists used financing to promote their objectives. He called for true international cooperation for the elaboration of the instrument. He observed that individual countries did what they could, but that international cooperation was necessary. The world must be rid of the scourge of terrorism, he stressed.
MOIN-UL-HAQUE (Pakistan) said that his country had always stood against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. As a victim of terrorism, it was natural for Pakistan to support efforts to combat it. A convention on the
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financing of international terrorism would be a useful contribution in international efforts to combat terrorism.
The draft text was a step in the right direction, he said. In the work on the text, States should be mindful of the work of genuine charitable organizations. His delegation would present specific proposals on the subject.
NARINDER SINGH (India) said the scourge of terrorism affected all countries and that no one State was immune. It was only a matter of time before terrorism would be eliminated. He thanked the Russian Federation for submitting the draft text for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism. He said progress had been made in work on the text during the Ad Hoc Committee's last session. He said the dangers of acts of nuclear terrorism were real. He also thanked France for its proposals on the suppression of the financing of terrorism. Terrorists depended on such financing for their activities.
He said India would submit a proposal on a comprehensive instrument to combat international terrorism after the conclusion of work on the two draft conventions now before the Ad Hoc Committee.
C. JOHNSON (United States) said the draft convention on the suppression of terrorist financing filled an important gap in addressing a very specific manifestation of terrorism. It was especially valuable in trying to address one of the threshold aspects of terrorism rather than hostage-taking or bombings. That aspect makes it a very complex and especially valuable proposal. It had not been framed in such a way as to be overly broad, he added.
He said that preventive aspects of the draft, such as those focusing on mutual legal assistance and finance, were very important. Although the draft convention was complex because of the different legal systems involved, the delegation of the United States looked forward to lively discussions in the Ad Hoc Committee.
PARK HEE-KWON (Republic of Korea) said it was possible that members of the Ad Hoc Committee had shown more patience than diplomats normally showed in their failure to adopt a draft convention due to divergent views. It was hoped that the Committee's current session would find a compromise solution on the text.
He said that the spectre of weapons of mass destruction loomed larger today than ever before. In the post-cold-war era, the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction had increased as had the danger to the livelihood of the global community. The Republic of Korea felt that the draft convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism could work coherently if it did not contradict all the other terrorism-related conventions.
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Due regard must be given to the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in order to avoid possible contradictions in the application of the draft convention's legal provisions, he added.
PHAM TRUONG GIANG (Viet Nam) said that as one of the most serious crimes, which was not confined within the borders of any single State, terrorism was a major threat to the international community. In the common struggle against it, the fundamental principles of international law must be observed, particularly those enshrined in the United Nations Charter. However, those principles should not infringe on the sovereignty of Member States.
He said there had been outstanding differences in the working group of the Sixth Committee (Legal). His delegation hoped serious efforts would be made to overcome those obstacles. Viet Nam was always active and positive in cooperating for the elaboration of international instruments. The delegation of Viet Nam gave full support for and effective cooperation in the implementation of the draft convention for the suppression of terrorist financing.
ALLIEU IBRAHIM KANU (Sierra Leone) said that what had been happening in his country had been vividly exhibited in all in the international media of the world. His delegation therefore welcomed the draft convention for the suppression of terrorist financing as an important addition to the body of related documents.
He said Sierra Leone was concerned about some of the draft convention's provisions, such as that relating to enforcement mechanisms. As time went by, his delegation would pinpoint its concerns in more detail.
OMER DAHAB FADOL MOHAMED (Sudan) said that United Nations resolutions on terrorism always contained a standard paragraph urging countries not to train or assist terrorist groups. That paragraph, which was always unanimously accepted, had been enhanced in the document proposed by the delegation of France, to whom Sudan extended its congratulations.
He said terrorists must be suppressed no matter what their identity. The draft convention for the suppression of terrorist financing must ensure that no one would finance terrorism, whether in cash or kind.
DIDIER PFIRTER, the Observer for Switzerland, said that the undertaking before the Ad Hoc Committee was very a important one. It had been extremely difficult in the past to distinguish between liberation movements and terrorist groups. At present it was very difficult to draw a clear line between a contribution and a terrorist act. It was almost impossible to link financing and a terrorist acts through organizations that committed those acts.
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He said it would be the Ad Hoc Committee's task to be extremely careful to find definitions that would be overly broad and criminalize people who should not be. As far as possible, the Committee should stick to the definitions contained in other conventions, because new wording would pose problems.
Mr. KIRSCH (Canada), Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, recalling the General Assembly resolution allowing for the participation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the work of the Committee, welcomed the presence of its representatives.
At his proposal, the Ad Hoc Committee agreed to allow the participation of the European Commission, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Police Organization (INTERPOL) in its work as observers.
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