AD HOC COMMITTEE TO PREPARE ANTI-TERRORISM INSTRUMENTS CONCLUDES THIRD SESSION AT HEADQUARTERS, 15 - 26 MARCH

26 March 1999
L/2918

AD HOC COMMITTEE TO PREPARE ANTI-TERRORISM INSTRUMENTS CONCLUDES THIRD SESSION AT HEADQUARTERS, 15 - 26 MARCH

26 March 1999

Press ReleaseL/2918

AD HOC COMMITTEE TO PREPARE ANTI-TERRORISM INSTRUMENTS CONCLUDES THIRD SESSION AT HEADQUARTERS, 15 - 26 MARCH

19990326 The Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 to prepare anti-terrorism instruments concluded its third session this afternoon after a nearly two-week substantive discussion of the text of a draft international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism.

Further elaboration of the French-sponsored draft instrument, as well as of the Russian Federation text on the draft convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, will continue in a Working Group of the Sixth Committee (Legal) during the General Assembly's fifty-fourth session.

The representative of the Russian Federation said there was one step missing before the draft on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism could be concluded. He was profoundly pleased to see the aspirations of members to find an acceptable solution to the problem of the scope of application of the convention. Delegations were now faced with the task of continuing and expanding their informal exchange of views.

Philippe Kirsch (Canada), Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, said much progress was made on the French text and that it should be possible for the Sixth Committee's Working Group to complete the task for the General Assembly to adopt it during its fifty-fourth session. On the Russian text, he urged continuation of consultations and dialogue for work to be completed in time for adoption by the General Assembly, also during its fifty-fourth session.

Statements were also made by the representative of Zimbabwe (on behalf of the Movement of Non-aligned Countries), Lebanon, Papua New Guinea, Syria, Iraq, United Kingdom and Ukraine (on behalf of the Group of Eastern European States). The observer for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also spoke.

Also this afternoon, the Committee adopted the report on its third session, introduced by its Rapporteur, Martin Smejkal (Czech Republic), as orally amended.

The Ad Hoc Committee is mandated to address at future sessions the means to further develop a comprehensive legal framework of conventions dealing with international terrorism, including considering, on a priority basis, the elaboration of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. The Committee is open to all United Nations Member States and members of the specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Ad Hoc Committee will meet again from 27 September to 8 October within the Working Group of the General Assembly's Sixth Committee (Legal).

Ad Hoc Committee Work Programme

The Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996 met this afternoon to conclude the work of its third session.

Before the Ad Hoc Committee were a number of documents including a draft report on the session contained in document A/AC.252/1999/CRP.1 and Add.1-5 and a discussion paper submitted by the bureau of the Committee on articles 3 to 25 of a draft convention for the suppression of terrorism financing.

The Ad Hoc Committee's draft report (document A/AC.252/1999/CRP.1) contains an introduction, proceedings of the session and a summary of its general debate. It also includes four annexes containing working papers, a working document, written amendments and informal summaries of discussions in the working group.

According to the draft report, the Ad Hoc Committee had before it during its third session the revised text of a draft convention on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism proposed by the Friends of the Chairman (document A/C.6/53/L.4, annex), as well as a draft international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism submitted by France (document A/AC.252/L.7 and Corr.1) together with an explanatory note to the draft convention submitted by the same delegation (document A/AC.252/L.7/Add.1).

Work on the French text was conducted in the form of a Working Group of the Whole and proceeded in three stages. In the first stage, it conducted a first reading of those articles unique to the proposed text of the draft convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism. The articles are 1, 2, 5, 8 and 12, paragraphs 3 and 4, and 17, as well as those articles which were similar, but not identical, to the corresponding provisions of the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, namely articles 3, 6 and 7, paragraphs 1, 2 and 5, on the basis of the text proposed in document A/AC.252/L.7 and Corr.1. Article 4 was also reviewed.

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In the second stage of the work, according to the draft report, the Working Group conducted a second reading of articles 2, 5, 8, 12 and additional provisions, on the basis of a revised text submitted by France (document A/AC.252/1999/WP.45) as well as of article 17 on the basis of a revised text submitted by France (document A/AC.252/1999/WP.47); articles 4 and 7 on the basis of a revised text submitted Australia (document A/AC.252/1999/WP.51). The report states that the coordinators of the informal discussions on articles 1 and 2, and 3 and 6, respectively, presented oral reports to the Working Group.

Following the completion of the second reading, the bureau of the Ad Hoc Committee, prepared a discussion paper on articles 3 to 25 (document A/AC.252/1999/CRP.2) as a basis for consideration by the Working Group of the General Assembly's Sixth Committee (Legal) at its next session. On 25 March, France introduced a working paper on articles 1 and 2, based on the discussion of those provisions during the informal consultations. Written amendments and proposals on the draft international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorist were submitted and considered during the discussions.

At the outset of the general debate, the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee recalled the Committee's mandate concerning the work of its third session, which was to continue to elaborate a draft international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism with a view to completing the instrument and initiating the elaboration of the draft international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism. He noted the advanced stage of the work on the draft convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism and expressed the hope that the remaining issue concerning its scope be resolved in an expeditious manner.

According to the draft report, the representative of the Russian Federation stressed the importance of completing work on the draft convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, which his delegation had submitted. It was considered possible to reach a compromise on the remaining issue on scope of the convention, as the draft convention did not impinge upon acts regulated by other norms of international law and its provisions were consistent with those of other relevant conventions. It was further noted that a failure to arrive at a consensus on the text of the draft convention would send a wrong signal to terrorist groups.

On the draft international convention for the suppression of financing of terrorism, the representative of France said during the general debate that existing anti-terrorist conventions did not contain adequate means of countering acts of those who supplied funds or sponsored terrorist attacks. The aim of the convention was to fill that gap in international law. Some delegations stressed the difficulty of linking financing and terrorist acts

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and cautioned against adopting overly broad definitions that would criminalize innocent individuals and genuine charitable organizations.

Statement by Chairman

PHILIPPE KIRSCH (Canada), Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, said that on the text of the draft convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, delegations should continue consultations on it. He hoped that through dialogue and further discussions in the General Assembly's Sixth Committee, it would be possible to adopt the draft convention during the Assembly's fifty-fourth session.

On the French text of a draft international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism, he said much progress was made during the session. It should be possible to complete work on it in the Sixth Committee and have it adopted by the General Assembly during its fifty-fourth session.

He said the paper submitted by the bureau was not a proposal but that it represented an attempt to reflect in a balanced manner the proposals and discussions in the Working Group. The articles revised by the bureau were articles 4-8, 12 and 17. As regards article 3 and parts of article 7, the bureau decided to leave them without change, pending further discussions on articles 1 and 2. The remaining articles contained in the discussion paper were identical to those in document A/AC.252/L.7 and were reproduced in the paper together with other articles for the purpose of review at the forthcoming session of the Working Group of the Sixth Committee.

He drew attention to an element in the discussion paper, noting that in reviewing the text of the draft convention and proposals by delegations, the bureau realized that the ways in which various offenses were referred to in the draft convention and proposals were not consistent and created some confusion. In order to eliminate any uncertainties, the bureau had reviewed the references made to offenses in the draft articles 3-25 and had revised them as necessary. Those financing offenses established under the draft convention were referred to in the discussion paper as "offenses set forth in article 2"; the actual terrorist offenses within the scope of the convention listed in the annex to the draft convention or referred to in article 2, paragraph 1 (b) of the draft convention itself are referred to as "offenses referred to in article 2, paragraph 1, subparagraph (a) or (b)".

General Comments

ALEXANDRE V. ZMEEVSKI (Russian Federation) said that his delegation had asserted the priority nature of efforts to complete the work on the draft convention on nuclear terrorism. The Committee's assessment was that there

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was one step missing before the draft could be concluded, and that step was not a simple one. He was profoundly pleased to see the aspirations of members to find an acceptable solution to the problem of the scope of application of the convention. Delegations were now faced with the task of continuing and expanding their informal exchange of views. There had been some sense of continuing discussions in the inter-sessional period, which would allow for the adoption of the draft convention during the General Assembly's fifty- fourth session.

ESTHER CHIBANDA-MUNYATI (Zimbabwe), speaking on behalf of the Non- Aligned Movement, said that she wanted to thank the Chairman and the bureau for the papers before the Committee. There was a certain imbalance in Part A of the draft report on the convention on the suppression of nuclear terrorism, since no meeting had been called on that issue. The Group's position was that it would prefer deletion of article 4 (2) of that report, as it presented an imbalanced text.

HICHAM HAMDAN (Lebanon) said that, concerning CRP.2, he had understood that some of the proposed articles in it did not change the course of some of the proposals submitted concerning article 3, which related to both articles 1 and 2 of the convention. He thanked the Chairman for his clarifications concerning his delegation's proposals for article 7 (6). He was also aware that article 19 covered Lebanon's preoccupations. He would like to have paragraph 6 of article 19 deleted.

PETER DONIGI (Papua New Guinea) said that he had wanted to raise the same point that Lebanon had just raised.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) thanked the Chairman, the bureau and the Secretariat for their efforts in preparing the papers. First, he supported the intervention by Lebanon and Papua New Guinea, and their proposal. Secondly, he supported Zimbabwe's intervention. Perhaps a paragraph could be added in part A of CRP.1, instead of paragraph 20, to reflect their position.

ABDUL MUNIM AL-KADHE (Iraq) expressed his gratitude to the Chairman and the bureau. He supported Zimbabwe's request to include the Non-Aligned Movement's position in the report under discussion today. He also supported what Syria proposed, and said that that position should be added to paragraph 20 in CRP.1.

Mr. ZMEEVSKI (Russian Federation) said that he did not have any objections to the positions just stated. However, from the structural point of the report, the Committee had to think of how best to incorporate those positions.

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JOHN GRAINGER (United Kingdom) said that further consultations were needed on the draft convention on nuclear terrorism. His delegation looked forward to participating in those consultations.

VLADIMIR BOULANENKOV, observer for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that the Agency had accepted with gratefulness the invitation extended by the General Assembly for it to participate in the Ad Hoc Committee. The Agency's representatives had participated in the Committee's work by sharing their expertise in the nuclear field. During the current session, the Committee had made progress on the draft convention on the suppression of terrorist financing. It was regrettable that during the session it had not been possible to finalize work on the draft convention on nuclear terrorism. Further efforts would certainly lead to the adoption of that draft convention. The current draft adequately addressed the function and expertise of the IAEA. The Agency was fully committed to the international effort to thwart international terrorism, and stood ready to assist the Committee on the completion of its work in that regard.

MARTIN SMEJKAL (Czech Republic), Rapporteur of the Ad Hoc Committee, introduced the Committee's draft report contained in document A/AC.252/1999/CRP.1 and Adds. 1 to 5.

The Committee then went through the draft report before adopting it, as orally amended.

Closing Remarks

In his closing remarks, Mr. KIRSCH (Canada), Committee Chairman, said that the discussions during the session had been of high quality. The atmosphere had been businesslike and positive. He was convinced that the Committee's work could be concluded during the session of the Working Group. With regard to the question of nuclear terrorism, he hoped that all delegations would begin consultations on that question during the inter- sessional period. It was important to conclude that draft convention. He thanked all delegations for their excellent work and support, especially the members of the bureau, who had worked tirelessly, and the Secretariat for their immense, high-quality work. He also expressed his appreciation to the interpreters, conference officers and others from the Secretariat.

OLEH HERASYMENKO (Ukraine), speaking on behalf of the Group of Eastern European States, thanked the Chairman and the bureau for their skilful guidance of the Ad Hoc Committee. He hoped that the work would be successfully completed during the current year and a generally acceptable text would emerge. He also thanked the Secretariat for their assistance.

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Draft Text on Terrorism Financing

In an explanatory note on its proposals, France said that the 11 existing international anti-terrorist conventions did not provide investigators with adequate means of proceeding effectively against those who supply funds and those who sponsor terrorist attacks. The proposed convention provides for a regime of liability for legal entities. Its cornerstone is the initiation of criminal proceedings under the "prosecute or extradite" principle. The sanctions regime in the text is designed to have a powerful deterrent effect. The draft also provides for the possibility of the seizure or freezing of property or assets used to commit the offence.

Draft Text on Nuclear Terrorism

The draft international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism envisions a wide range of measures to combat it. Acts of nuclear terrorism are defined in the draft instrument as including the use or threat to use nuclear material, nuclear fuel, radioactive products or waste, or any other radioactive substances with toxic, explosive or other dangerous properties.

The convention would apply exclusively to acts by individuals, in an individual capacity or as part of non-State groups or other associations. Matters relating to non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear threats posed by States or intergovernmental organizations are not included.

Background on Ad Hoc Committee

The process leading to the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee dates back to the approval in 1994 of resolution 49/60, by which the General Assembly adopted a Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism. The Declaration asked the Secretary-General to review existing international legal instruments on the subject to help States identify aspects of the matter that had not been covered by them and which could then be addressed for the development of a comprehensive legal framework on the question.

The Secretary-General reported to the Assembly's Sixth Committee (document A/51/336) that many of the existing 13 global or regional treaties on international terrorism were not universal. Stressing the need for the enactment of international laws not covered by existing treaties, he suggested that consideration should be given to terrorist bombings, terrorist fund- raising and to the prevention of the use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists.

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The General Assembly consequently adopted resolution 51/210, which established the Ad Hoc Committee and included a Declaration to Supplement the 1994 Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism. At its first session, held from 24 February to 7 March 1997, the Ad Hoc Committee adopted a report (document A/52/37) transmitting to the Assembly revised proposals on a draft international convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings.

The revised text and other proposals contained in that report formed the basis of further work on the draft convention, which was eventually adopted by the General Assembly on 15 December 1997 on the recommendation of its Sixth Committee. The International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings is the eleventh United Nations legal instrument meant to identify, define and punish specific terrorist acts as international crimes.

Officers of Ad Hoc Committee

Officers of the Ad Hoc Committee at its second session were: Chairman, Philippe Kirsch (Canada); Vice-Chairmen: Carlos Fernando Diaz (Costa Rica), Hussein Mubarak (Egypt) and Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka); and Rapporteur, Martin Smejkal (Czech Republic).

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For information media. Not an official record.