UNPRECEDENTED UNITY PROMPTED BY ‘TERRIBLE EVIL’ OF 11 SEPTEMBER ATTACK SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL, AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS TERRORISM DEBATE
UNPRECEDENTED UNITY PROMPTED BY ‘TERRIBLE EVIL’ OF 11 SEPTEMBER ATTACK SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL, AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS TERRORISM DEBATE
Fifty-sixth General Assembly
12th Meeting (AM)
UNPRECEDENTED UNITY PROMPTED BY ‘TERRIBLE EVIL’ OF 11 SEPTEMBER ATTACK
SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL, AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS TERRORISM DEBATE
New York City’s Mayor Also Addresses Assembly
The General Assembly this morning opened its debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism, with Secretary-General Kofi Annan telling the Assembly that the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States were “acts of terrible evil” that had shocked the conscience of the entire world and prompted the international community to react with unprecedented speed and unity.
The Secretary-General praised the Security Council resolution adopted on Friday night and said that “out of evil can come good”. Paradoxically, the vicious assaults had had the effect of reaffirming common humanity. The very heartlessness and callous indifference to the suffering and grief caused to thousands of innocent families had brought a heartfelt response from millions of people all around the world. He stressed that the international community must now ensure that the momentum was not lost and a sustained strategy to eradicate terrorism was developed.
Prior to the opening of today’s debate, which has more than 145 speakers scheduled for the next three days, delegates heard from the Mayor of New York City, Rudolph Giuliani, the first time the host city Mayor had addressed the Assembly since Mayor Vincent Impellitteri spoke in 1952.
Mayor Giuliani, who was introduced and welcomed by the Secretary-General, said on 11 September the most diverse city in the world had been viciously attacked in an unprovoked act of war -- an attack not just on the city, but on the idea of a free, inclusive and civil society. The United Nations must hold any country accountable that held terrorists, ostracize any nation that supported terrorism, and isolate any nation that remained neutral. “With one clear voice, unanimously, we need to say no to terrorism, “ he said. “We are unified and will not yield to terror.”
The President of the Assembly, Han Seung-soo (Republic of Korea), opening deliberations on the issue, said the fight against terrorism transcended cultural and religious differences. “We must never forget that terrorism is not a weapon yielded by one civilization against another, but rather an instrument of destruction through which small bands of criminals seek to undermine civilization itself.”
The representative of the United States said the barbarities of 11 September had been acts of war perpetrated by men who had perverted the basic elements of
civilized life and had dared to call their deeds the works of God. The terrorists could not deceive the world by attempting to wrap themselves in Islam’s glorious mantle. There was no division between the United States and Islam; the division that existed was between the civilized world and terror, between the rule of law and the chaos of crime, between a world at peace and a world in peril.
The representative of the United Kingdom, addressing the problem of defining terrorism, said what looked, smelled and killed like terrorism was terrorism. But, there were also wars and armed struggles where action could be characterized, for metaphorical and rhetorical force, as terrorist. That was a highly controversial and subjective area where consensus within the United Nations would never be reached. He encouraged the reinforcement and extension of international cooperation arrangements in the field of justice, policing and law enforcement. All States owed it to the victims of the terrorist atrocities to implement those measures.
Also addressing the problem of defining terrorism, the representative of Burkina Faso said when national interests were involved it seemed that a distinction had evolved between “‘good” and “bad” terrorist, between a “national struggle” and a “terrorist act”. There could be no compromise. The international community needed to speak the same language in order to come out the victor in this struggle. Also, in the fight against terrorism, the human dimension could not be ignored. If all people felt they were heard and respected in international relations, there would be no reason for people to take the path of violence.
Algeria’s representative said a panoply of legal instruments already existed as a legal base for countering terrorism. The draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism India had submitted would allow for a consistent management of terrorist acts, rather than the piecemeal approach taken so far. All countries should show their willingness to cooperate on the question, so as to enable adoption of that instrument. No one should assume the moral responsibility of hindering that important document.
Also addressing the Assembly this morning were the Foreign Minister of Nicaragua, as well as the representatives of Belgium on behalf of the European Union, Norway, Ukraine, South Africa, Belarus, Egypt and Croatia.
The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue its discussion of measures to eliminate terrorism.
The General Assembly met this morning to begin its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism. On 19 September the Assembly decided to discuss the issue directly in plenary meeting and not –- as was the case in the past year –- in its Sixth Committee (Legal), because of the urgency of the subject since the 11 September terrorist attacks on the host country and city.
On 12 September, the Assembly, during its first plenary meeting of the fifty-sixth regular session, adopted a resolution condemning the attacks and calling for urgent action to enhance international cooperation to prevent and eradicate acts of terrorism.
The Security Council, in its resolution 1368 (2001), condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack against the United States and called on all States to work together urgently to bring the perpetrators to justice. In resolution 1373 (2001), adopted Friday evening, it decided on wide-ranging steps armed at the financing, political support and sanctuary for terrorism. In earlier action; by resolution 1333 (2000), it demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban authorities act swiftly to close all camps where terrorists were trained. By resolution 1267 (1999), it demanded that the Taliban turn over Usama bin Laden to appropriate authorities so that he could be brought to justice.
The United Nations has long been active in the fight against
international terrorism. Reflecting the determination of the international community to eliminate this threat, the Organization and its Agencies have developed a wide range of international legal agreements that enable the international community to take action to suppress terrorism and bring those responsible to justice.
Dating back to 1963, those agreements provide the basic legal tools to combat international terrorism in its many forms -- from the seizure of aircraft to hostage-taking to the financing of terrorism. Many have been ratified by the majority of countries around the world, and only the most recent is not yet in force. Such agreements have been developed by the General Assembly, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The instruments are:
-- Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft (1963);
-- Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft (1970);
-- Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation (1971); supplemented by the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation (1988);
-- Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against
Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents (1973);
-- Convention against the Taking of Hostages (1979);
-- Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (1980);
-- Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (1988); supplemented by the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf (1988);
-- Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection (1988);
-- International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997); and
-- International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (1999);
The Sixth Committee is elaborating a convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism and a comprehensive convention on the elimination of terrorism.
In addition to bringing about four of those conventions, the Assembly has adopted the Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism (1994) and the Declaration to supplement the 1994 Declaration (1996). Those condemn all acts and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, wherever and by whomever committed, and urge all States to take measures at the national and international level to eliminate international terrorism.
The Vienna-based United Nations Terrorism Prevention Branch researches terrorism trends and assists countries in upgrading their capacities to investigate -– but, above all, to prevent -- terrorist acts. The Branch is an arm of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.
For the text of the conventions, see: http://www.undcp.org/terrorism_conventions.html
The Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary-General on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/56/160/Corr.1 and Add. 1), written pursuant to Assembly resolution 49/60, annex (Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism). [Add.1 has not yet been issued.]
The report summarizes information received from Member States and international organizations regarding measures taken at the national and international levels regarding the prevention and suppression of international terrorism and information on incidents caused by international terrorism. It also gives an overview of international legal instruments related to the prevention and suppression of international terrorism and information on workshops and training courses on combating crimes connected with international terrorism, as well as on the publication of a compendium of national laws and regulations regarding the suppression and prevention of international terrorism.
The four-part Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism was adopted on the recommendation of the Assembly’s Sixth Committee. By part I, Member States reaffirmed their unequivocal condemnation of terrorist activities and of all activities intended to provoke terror. By part II, States agreed to refrain from abetting agents of terrorism and agreed to take measures against such activities, including by cooperating and implementing existing conventions on the subject. By part III, the United Nations system was asked to help States implement measures aimed at eliminating terrorism, including through information and training activities. Finally, by part IV, the need to pursue efforts aimed at definitively eliminating terrorism was emphasized, including through cooperation, development of international law and strengthening of the United Nations.
Statement by the Mayor of New York City
Prior to convening, the General Assembly heard a statement from the Mayor of New York City, Rudolph Giuliani.
KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, welcomed Mayor Giuliani and said that his home, the City of New York, was the home of the United Nations. The United Nations had always drawn enormous strength from the city, he said. Since the attack on the World Trade Center and Washington, United States, the United Nations had also drawn strength from Mayor Giuliani’s leadership, his resilience, and his commitment to the tolerance and diversity that had made New York City such a magnet and such an outstanding capital.
The Secretary-General said he was pleased that the Mayor could see firsthand how the Organization was responding to the attack. The Security Council and General Assembly had quickly condemned the attack, and on Friday the Council had unanimously adopted another resolution aimed at cracking down on terrorism.
The Secretary-General emphasized that the attack had wounded the entire world. However, shared adversity had brought New York City and the United Nations closer together than ever before. United Nations staff members had raised more than $100,000 dollars, the tour guides were helping the American Red Cross and other staff members were working as volunteer interpreters at the family centre at Pier 94. The Secretary-General said that if there was one message that he had taken away from the tour of “ground zero”, it was that the world must come together to defeat the menace of terrorism. He pledged the support of the United Nations for the city’s swift and full recovery.
RUDOLPH GIULIANI, Mayor of New York City, thanked the Assembly for its consideration in postponing the general debate. “We are now open and ready,” he said. He looked forward to having the heads of State and foreign ministers any time.
On 11 September, the most diverse city in the world had been viciously attacked in an unprovoked act of war, he continued. More than 5,000 men and women from 80 different nations were lost. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in history, and not just an attack on the city, but on the idea of a free, inclusive and civil society. “It is a direct assault on the founding principles of the United Nations itself,” he said Terrorism was based on a violation of fundamental human rights. The act of terrorism had been intended to break our spirit, but instead it had made us stronger, more determined and more resolved. The bravery of the emergency workers and civilians in saving over 25,000 lives that day inspired all.
He said the determination, resolve and leadership of the President of the United States, George W. Bush, had unified America and decent men and women around the world. The strength of the United States response followed from the principles for which it stood. Americans were not of one race or religion, but had emerged from all nations. “It is our belief in religious, political and economic freedom, in democracy, rule of law and respect for human life,” which made an American, he said. It made New York the “shining city on a hill”. No city or country had seen more immigrants in less time than New York and the United States, who sought freedom, opportunity, and decency. Each nation in the Assembly had contributed citizens to the United States and New York. In each land there were many who were Americans in spirit by virtue of shared principles. “It is perverse that because of those principles we find ourselves under attack by terrorists,” he said.
The United Nations must hold any country accountable that held terrorists, ostracize any nation that supported terrorism, and isolate any nation that remained neutral. “We must unite to maintain international peace and security,” he said. “This is not a time for further study or vague directives.” The result of that was lying in the rubble of the World Trade Center, less than two miles away. “We are right. They are wrong. It is as simple as that.” The United States and its allies were right about democracy and freedom and the terrorists were wrong and evil in their destruction of human life. Those who said that one had to understand the reasons for terrorism should come to the funerals and explain those reasons to the children growing up without parents. He asked instead that each nation stand up for the United States by making a pledge to achieve unconditional victory. There was no excuse for mass murder. By using terrorism, the terrorists had lost any right to have their cause understood. On that issue, the United Nations must draw a line. The era of moral relativism must end. Moral relativism had created a fertile field in which terrorism could grow, he said.
He said passage of Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) was a very good first step. Calling the United Nations a family of nations, he said, “We need to unite now as a family as never before, in recognition of the fact that ‘United Nations’ stands for the principle that human beings have more in common than what divides us.” Victims of the attack were of every race, religion and ethnicity. Openness to new people had been the City’s greatest source of strength. There were very strong and vibrant Muslim and Arab communities in the city. Theirs, and everybody’s, religious beliefs were respected. That was what New York City was about. God was known in many ways, but characterized by one thing -- love. “Love does eventually conquer hatred,” he said, but good intentions alone were not enough to conquer evil. Decisive action from nations was needed to stop terrorism from ever orphaning another child. There had never been a better time to come to the city. “Come to take a stand against terrorism,” he said. “With one clear voice, unanimously we need to say no to terrorism. We are unified and will not yield to terror.”
General Assembly Debate
HAN SEUNG-SOO (Republic of Korea) The President of the General Assembly, recalled it had been three weeks since the worst assault in the history of the world. He conveyed the Assembly’s condolences to the families and loved ones of the more than 6,000 victims. He further recalled that the Security Council had condemned the vicious attacks as unprecedented in scale and brutality, posing a direct threat to international peace and security. More than that, the actions were aimed not just at physical targets, but the very structure of civilized values -– peace, freedom, tolerance and human rights -– around which the international community was organized.
The General Assembly had responded to the challenge quickly, he affirmed. It had spoken in strong, unmistakable tones. It had condemned the heinous attacks and had called for greater international cooperation to prevent and eradicate international terrorism, which had been on the Assembly’s agenda for many years. The 12 anti-terrorist conventions dealing with various aspects of terrorism, and the comprehensive convention that had been built on those, provided the legal framework for the international community to combat terrorism in all its forms. Member States should conclude the convention quickly. They should also sign and ratify the existing conventions.
Finally, he said the fight against terrorism transcended cultural and religious differences. “We must never forget that terrorism is not a weapon yielded by one civilization against another, but rather an instrument of destruction through which small bands of criminals seek to undermine civilization itself,” he said. In this Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, he added, terrorism was the gravest and most urgent of issues for inter-cultural dialogue. Nothing could make amends for the senseless loss of 11 September. But, the unspeakable tragedy could strengthen the resolve to eliminate the threat.
KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, applauded the Security Council for acting swiftly Friday evening in unanimously adopting a resolution aimed at targeting terrorists and those who harbour, aid or support them. He noted that, thus far, the international community had been able to act with unprecedented speed and unity. Both the General Assembly and the Security Council had adopted strong resolutions on 12 September, condemning the attacks on the United States and calling on States to cooperate in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
The heartlessness and callous indifference to suffering caused to thousands of innocent families had brought a heartfelt response from millions of ordinary people worldwide, he said. The task now was to ensure that the momentum was not lost, to develop a broad, comprehensive and sustained strategy to combat terrorism and eradicate it from the world. The Assembly meeting on terrorism must signal the beginning of immediate, practical and far-reaching changes in the way the United Nations acted against terrorism. Terrorism would be defeated if the international community united in a broad coalition, for which the United Nations was uniquely positioned to serve as the forum.
The Organization must develop a long-term strategy to ensure global legitimacy for the struggle ahead, he said. That would begin by ensuring that the 12 conventions and protocols on international terrorism already drafted and adopted by the United Nations were signed, ratified and implemented without delay. Two of those conventions, in particular, could strengthen the fight against terrorism. The first was the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing, which entered into force on 23 May this year. The second was the 1999 Convention of the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, which so far had 44 signatories and four ratifications, but needed 18 more to enter into force.
It would also be crucial to reach agreement on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, he said. He noted that outstanding issues currently preventing agreement focused on the definition of terrorism. While there was a need for legal precision, there was also a need for moral clarity. There could be no acceptance of those who would seek to justify the deliberate taking of innocent civilian life, regardless of cause or grievance. Even in situations of armed conflict, targeting innocent civilians was illegal and morally unacceptable.
“It is hard to imagine how the tragedy of 11 September could have been worse,” he said. “Yet the truth is that a single attack involving a nuclear or biological weapon could have killed millions.” While the world had been unable to prevent the 11 September attacks, there was much it could do to prevent future terrorist acts carried out with weapons of mass destruction. The greatest danger arose from a non-State group acquiring and using a nuclear, biological or chemical weapon. The United Nations must ensure the verification and implementation of key treaties relating to weapons of mass destruction, including those outlawing chemical and biological weapons.
FRANCISCO AGUIRRE SACASA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua said the gravity of the criminal acts had imposed new and greater challenges on the international community, which needed to be faced united. All Members of the United Nations needed to apply a coordinated strategy that would make the United Nations effective in the long-term battle against international terrorism. There had to be a consciousness that a new common enemy was being faced, an enemy that operated clandestinely, in a cowardly fashion, but with great sophistication. It was an enemy frequently linked to other international crimes, such as drug trafficking, money laundering and the diverse forms of organized crime that facilitate and finance the commission of such criminals acts.
The first step toward winning the war against terrorism was not to be frightened by its actions, he continued. For that reason, Nicaragua decided to go ahead with the third Meeting of State Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Ottowa Convention), despite other international conferences around the world being cancelled or postponed. He discussed specific steps his country has taken, in order to give an unqualified 'no' to terrorism, including: endorsing the "Central American United Against Terrorism Declaration" on 19 September; promoting a declaration at the Ottawa Convention Conference condemning the 11 September attacks. Co-sponsoring an initiative to immediately convene the Consultative Organ of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance at the Organization of American States (OAS); and agreeing to the creation of a new security mechanism at the 27 September meeting of the Commission on Central American Defense and Security.
His Government supported the considerations of the Secretary-General, who had recognized the United Nations as the natural forum for building a universal coalition, giving long-term global legitimacy to the fight against terrorism. Nevertheless, the universal vocation of the United Nations could not be complete as long as there was a State with a profound democratic vocation that could not participate as a full member in the work of the United Nations system -– that was, the Republic of China on Taiwan. Like all the citizens of the world, its 23 million inhabitants suffered the effects of terrorism and should add their voice, in the bosom of the United Nations, to share their experience, their technology and actions to the universal efforts against such acts that threaten world peace and the security of all peoples.
JOHN D.NEGROPONTE (United States) said that the heinous terrorism attacks of 11 September 2001 had led the international community, not to the Millennium Declaration but back to the original declaration on 25 June 1945. If delegates could add a single word to the preamble of the United Nations Charter, it would read as follows: “We the peoples of the United Nations remain determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.
The barbarities of 11 September had been very different from the scourge of war that predecessors had known and pledged to end, but they had been acts of war nonetheless, he said. On 11 September the world had witnessed the final transformation of terror from agony to crisis. The Al Qaeda terrorism network had reached into the very system of cooperation and communication -– from civil aviation to telecommunication to the transfer of money to the free movement of people -– and turned the building blocks of peace into the weapons of war. Men, suicidally intoxicated with a vision of the void, had perverted the basic elements of civilized life and had dared to call their deeds the works of God.
What could we do? he asked. What more must we do? The answers to those questions would require the sustained application of political will and a vital commitment to one another. The struggle faced would be lengthy and its progress would be erratic. Already there were results through effective law enforcement around the word. However, the war would not be over until the ability of the terrorists to share information, techniques, personnel, money, and weapons had been shattered. The Security Council resolution spelled out three days ago was a call to action. The resolution would deny the terrorists financing, safe haven and other forms of support.
It was not a war against Islam, he said. The terrorists could not deceive the world by attempting to wrap themselves in Islam’s glorious mantle, he added. The United States had helped defend Muslims in Kuwait, as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, and remained the largest single provider of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. There was no division between the United States and Islam; the division that existed was between the civilized world and terror, between the rule of law and the chaos of crime, between a world at peace and a world in peril.
JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the attacks had been an assault not only on the United States, but on all open, democratic, tolerant and multicultural societies. The European Union condemned with the utmost forcefulness the perpetrators and sponsors of those barbarous acts, and the Union and its Member States would be unstinting in their efforts to help identify, bring to justice and punish the perpetrators, sponsors and accomplices of those acts. He added that the Union would step up action against terrorism through a coordinated and interdisciplinary approach. The fight against terrorism would be coupled with the search for sustainable solutions for the human and political crises that constituted factors of instability feeding terrorist groups.
The fight against terrorism would require the broadest possible global coalition, he said. That coalition should be formed under the aegis of the United Nations, which remained the most appropriate forum for revitalizing, strengthening and coordinating efforts to eliminate international terrorism. The International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism was especially important. Combating the funding of terrorism was a decisive aspect of the European policy on terrorism. The European Union had, therefore, decided that all necessary measures would be taken to combat any form of financing of terrorist activities, following the spirit of the disposition taken by the Security Council in its resolution 1373 (2001).
The implementation of various conventions on terrorism was just as important as their ratification, he said. The European Union called upon all countries to take the measures necessary to implement those instruments as a matter of urgency. He added that the United Nations must also continue to explore other ways to combat terrorism. Until now, the emphasis had been, and rightly so, on judicial cooperation in prosecuting and extraditing those guilty of terrorist acts in all their aspects. Other forms of cooperation could be envisaged or strengthened, for instance in the field of preventive measures and exchange of information. The integration of all countries into a fair world system of security, prosperity and improved development was the condition for a strong and sustainable community for combating terrorism.
The European Union also highlighted the need for regional cooperation, in particular strengthening judicial and police cooperation, he said. The European Council had decided that measures should be taken to increase air transport security. Those measures would include the classification of weapons, the technical training of crews, baggage checks, and protection of cockpit access.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that a year ago the Assembly had made a solemn commitment to build a world without poverty or fear for future generations. The outpouring of concern from the world over for the people of New York City in the wake of its tragedy was a demonstration that the international community could overcome its differences and act together. Now that the nature of terrorism had been seen, it was absolutely necessary to adopt, as soon as possible, a concerted strategy to counteract such terror. Who else better than the Assembly could handle the question? he asked.
Terrorism adapted itself to technological and economic changes, he continued. As shown by the recent acts, terrorism had acquired for itself the new tools of technology. It had consolidated its links with criminal networks. The new face of terrorism showed its linkage to drug and arms trafficking. The question to ask was, what form should the fight take? The answer required a collective response within the broad scope the question demanded. Every actor, including the media, must be recruited to the effort, without a war being declared against any people, culture or religion. Terrorism was a universal evil. The fight against it couldn’t be limited to politics or instruments, nor must anyone be allowed to underrate its significance.
He said those who had been lax in the past about terrorism must now be told that the world had a “zero tolerance” policy about it. The 12 instruments on terrorism should be implemented and victims should be compensated. Collective measures should be adopted and implemented without delay, such as strengthening Interpol’s capability to act against the networks of financial and arms suppliers. The resolution adopted by the Security Council last week addressed a host of issues, such as the crossing of borders by terrorist groups. A panoply of legal instruments already existed as a legal base for countering terrorism. The draft convention India had submitted was a step to the global juridical framework that was needed.
The text of that convention, he said, would allow for a consistent management of terrorist acts rather than the piecemeal approach taken so far. All countries should show their willingness to cooperate on the question, so as to enable adoption of that instrument. No one should assume the moral responsibility of hindering that important document so needed by the international community. It was impossible to fight the global scourge of terrorism without international cooperation within the framework of the United Nations. A high-level conference should be organized to address terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Also, regional cooperation should continue to grow, as was already occurring within the Mediterranean region, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the League of Arab States. His country would be involved in all levels of arrangements.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said terrorism was a crime against the innocent. The purpose of terrorism was to spread fear and destruction. The random selection of victims was the very essence of terror –- it could strike at any place and at any time. Terrorism transcended national borders; it struck at the core values that were held to be universal. Just as the people of New York City stood united in grief, bravery and determination, so must the international community stand up in confronting international terrorism. Justice must be brought to the criminals who committed those abhorrent acts. There must be universal condemnation for killing and maiming innocent people. An attack on one had to be considered an attack on all. The fight against international terrorism must be a common cause.
The war on terrorism had to be fought on many fronts, he said. A comprehensive strategy was needed that included military, political, diplomatic, legal and economic means. As the only organization with universal membership and a comprehensive agenda, the United Nations had to assume the responsibility for elaborating a broad, long-term strategy for combatting international terrorism. Norway would participate actively in that work. Intensified and concerted international efforts were needed to effectively seek out and hold accountable those who supported, harboured and protected terrorists, and to prevent any future assaults.
There could be no sanctuary for terrorists, he said. He welcomed Security Council resolutions 1368 (2001), which reconfirmed the right to individual or collective self-defense, and 1373 (2001), which entailled clear steps and measures that all Member States of the United Nations had to implement in order to prevent and suppress terrorist activities. It was equally important that the financial networks feeding the terrorists were cut off. All the United Nations Conventions against international terrorism had been ratified by Norway. Later today, the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism would be signed by Norway.
International terrorism was also closely linked to organized crime, he said. The early entry into force of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime would be important in impairing the financing of terrorist networks. In order to remove that threat, the international community had to redouble its efforts at eliminating the known breeding grounds of terrorism –- violent conflicts, poverty, intolerance and religious fanaticism. There had to be an effort to strive for democratization and for universal adherence to human rights. Efforts to fight poverty and social exclusion had to be redoubled, as must efforts to promote good governance. The action plan agreed to at the Millennium Summit last year must be implemented and globalization had to be made into a vehicle for growth and prosperity for all nations and all people. If the intention of the terrorists was to split the international community, the opposite had been achieved. The international community would stand united and win the war on international terrorism.
VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said tragedies of enormous proportions had marred the start of the new Millennium, with aim primarily taken against civilians. That had become a direct challenge not only to the people of the United States, but to the entire civilized world. Those responsible put themselves beyond the laws of human civilization and deserved a just and inevitable punishment. Ukraine, together with other members of the world community, mourned the victims of the attacks and expressed full solidarity with the people of the United States. By joining the global anti-terrorist coalition, Ukraine confirmed its readiness to do its utmost in the global efforts to uproot this scourge.
The brutality and proportions of the terrorist acts had profoundly changed the perception of the global challenges facing mankind, he continued. Yet, despite all the imperfections and built-in weaknesses of an increasingly globalized world, the international community could not afford to remain ill-prepared and ill-equipped in the face of new threats. Fully realizing the magnitude and implications of the recent events, Member States and policy-makers had to develop new definitions, new terms and new strategies to stand up to new realities.
Ukraine had repeatedly condemned, in the strongest possible terms, international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, he said. There was consistent support for the concerted efforts by the international community in combatting the scourge. Most of the international instruments in the field had been ratified. Such ratification was considered an essential contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security. It was also hoped that negotiations on two new universal instruments in the field would be concluded shortly. At the same time, legal instruments alone were not sufficient –- a strong commitment by States and genuine cooperation between governments and their law enforcement agencies in fighting terrorism was needed.
Recognized norms of international law were clearly violated by terrorist attacks, he said. Undermining international instability and provoking a circle of violence was the main purpose of such attacks. The world community must not succumb to such provocations. All national and international means of combatting and suppressing terrorism must be used.
DUMISANI KUMALO (South Africa)read his Government’s 19 September statement on the developments surrounding the terrorist actions in the United States. Reiterating President Thabo Mbeki and the South African Cabinet’s unequivocal condemnation of terrorism, he said that attacks against civilians could not be justified and that the government recognized the right of the United States to track down the culprits and bring them to justice. At the same time, acts of vengeance or mobilization directed against individuals, communities or nations simply because of their faith, language or color could not be justified.
Whatever pain the world was going through, he said, continuing his Government's 19 September statement, the international community must avoid the temptations of racism, Islamaphobia, anti-Semitism or any other forms of related intolerance or discriminations warned against by the recent World Conference Against Racism. Indeed, any actions taken should be informed by thorough investigation and incontrovertible evidence. In a united effort to combat terrorism, the immediate task was to ensure that the perpetrators got their just desserts. In the medium–term, the challenge was to understand the root causes of those despicable acts and work toward their worldwide eradication. At the very least, terrorists should be isolated through international cooperation and broad efforts to build an equitable world order.
He continued by restating his Government’s view that medium-term challenges included ensuring concerted efforts to resolve conflicts in all parts of the globe, including the search for a lasting peace in the Middle East. Another challenge was promoting joint commitments aimed at eradicating poverty and underdevelopment. South Africa had offered the United States support and assistance within its capacity, and through its mission was working with relevant United States authorities to search for possible South African victims, as well as provide relevant intelligence information.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that with the smoke still rising from the ruins of the World Trade Center, it was essential to act quickly, resolutely and collectively to make sure such outrages were prevented in the future. Terrorists operated without regard for borders or the citizenship of their victims and so the fight against terrorism had to be a global one. He added that all must take steps, nationally and jointly, to prevent the flow of finance and funds to terrorists, stop terrorists from crossing borders, apprehend them, put them on trial or extradite them to countries that would, share information and cease to tolerate States or entities that supported or protected terrorists.
Encouraged and coordinated by the work of the General Assembly, he said that every State should ratify the existing 12 United Nations and international conventions against terrorism, and accelerate work on the draft global terrorism and nuclear terrorism conventions. Each State was urged to take steps to ensure that those responsible for aiding, supporting or harbouring terrorists were held accountable. Furthermore, he encouraged the reinforcement and extension of international cooperation arrangements in the field of justice, policing and law enforcement. All States owed it to the victims of the terrorist atrocities to implement those measures. A number of them were already in force in the United Kingdom through the Terrorism Act 2000 -– a tough anti-terrorism law. The United Kingdom was nonetheless considering urgently what further changes in domestic legislation might be required.
Increasingly, questions had been raised about the problem of the definition of a terrorist. There was common ground amongst all on what constituted terrorism, he said. What looked, smelled and killed like terrorism was terrorism. But there were also wars and armed struggles where action could be characterized, for metaphorical and rhetorical force, as terrorist. That was a highly controversial and subjective area, he said, and because of the legitimate spectrum of viewpoints within the United Nations membership in that area, consensus would never be reached. He also reminded the Assembly of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The United Kingdom had in recent days disbursed $40 million to that cause, and more was in the pipeline. He urged the Assembly to support the Secretary-General’s appeal for funds, not with pledges, but with cash. The need was acute and urgent.
MICHEL KAFANDO (Burkina Faso) said it was important to remember that this was not the first time the international community had felt compelled to intervene in the face of terrorism. In fact, the first convention against terrorism dated back to 1963. There were several other conventions on terrorism that had strengthened the legal arsenal against terrorism. Even with a legal framework, the shadowy and ever-changing nature of terrorism required that the fight against terrorism be forever renewed and strengthened. Despite several security measures, terrorists acted with a disconcerting ease and sophistication, and a new type of terrorism had emerged -- that of suicide attacks. The struggle against that type of terrorism seemed even more impossible to win.
The past two weeks had been difficult, both for the United States and the global coalition against terrorism, he continued. It was difficult to ascertain who the perpetrators were, and, even if they were known, how could one get to them without striking innocent people? What could be done to eradicate an evil that defied comprehension? The attack of 11 September had highlighted the pointlessness of the idea of an anti-missile defense shield. No State, not even the most powerful State, could hide behind a sense of invulnerability in the face of terrorism. Further, it was essential that all States had the same understanding and definition of terrorism. When national interests were involved, it seemed that a distinction had evolved between “good” and “bad” terrorist, between a “national struggle” and a “terrorist act”. There could be no compromise.
He added that terrorism needed to be fought through international cooperation and urged all States to adhere to existing international treaties and protocols. Finally, emphasis must be placed on the preventive aspect in the fight against terrorism. In that context, the human dimension could not be ignored. Suicide attacks were clearly linked to a sense of despair, extreme poverty and a feeling of injustice. A humanization of international relations could be the answer. If all people believed they were heard and respected in international relations, there would be no reason for people to take the path of violence.
SERGEI LING (Belarus) said that the United Nations, as a unique forum of nations, should head a process to develop measures against terrorism. But, his country strongly believed that the international community’s response to terrorism should be addressed to the actual perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of terrorist acts, rather than to whole nations and States. Only such an approach would prevent new victims among innocent civilians.
The Security Council should consider any military intervention to combat international terrorism on the territories of other States from the point of view of threatening international peace and security, he said. His country welcomed steps already taken by the Council to support the resolution of 18 September, which stipulated that a Security Council committee to combat terrorism be established. That and other measures would allow for the creation of an effective and permanent Council mechanism to fight terrorism.
The United Nations should establish a Centre for combating terrorism, which would promote States’ obligations within existing treaties and assist them in establishing contacts to prevent and fight terrorism, he said. The Centre could have special subdivisions for fact-finding and prevention, as well as for responses to terrorist acts.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said the shadow of tragedy still loomed over the host city, host country and the whole world. The recent attack had shown that any State or people could be a target of terrorist acts. Those who had committed the terrorism in New York had committed murder against 60 countries.
He said his country had led, and continued to be in the forefront of, international actions against terrorism. It had led a long, sustained campaign against terrorism and it did so on the national, regional and international levels; through economic, social and political initiatives. Last week, the Security Council had passed an important resolution that provided for important steps against terrorism, such as ending safe harbor for those behind terrorist actions.
However, he continued, it was important to address the root causes of terrorism and to put those at the centre of actions against it. The question of Palestine, for example, involved political and humanitarian issues regarding the restoring of the rights of the Palestinian people. The general fear in the world at the moment should not be a cause for crushing their rights. It was disturbing that some groups seized on actions and used them against others or used them to show themselves as superior. He would address that issue in the proper forum. The President of his country, Hosni Mubarak, however, had in the aftermath of the attack reiterated his desire to hold a high-level meeting to address the issue of terrorism.
He said he supported collective action and called on all States to follow the lead of those countries that had taken steps against terrorist acts. The phenomenon needed to be addressed at the political, technological and social levels.
IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia) said the perpetrators of the deliberate and tragic terrorist acts of 11 September must be brought to justice. Even though those acts were targeted at one nation they wounded the entire world. Thus, in response, the international community’s motto should be “multilateralism against terrorism”. Response should be global, differences should be set aside and the eradication of terrorism once and for all should be should be the world community’s common goal. He expressed strong support for the Secretary-General’s view that the United Nations could play a unique role in advancing that goal.
He said that the fight against terrorism would be long and complex, but stressed it was vital that terrorists be prosecuted wherever they were, their finances cut off and the countries harbouring and supporting them be identified and isolated. To ensure long-term eradication, however, it would be critical that universal action be combined with initiatives aimed at combating conditions that favoured terrorism, such as conflict, unresolved crises, inequality and poverty. Overall success, therefore, relied heavily on coordinated efforts of the principle organs of the United Nations, particularly the Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
“We do not have much time,” he continued. Broad condemnation of terrorism should be swiftly transformed into practical action against it. The 12 United Nations conventions against terrorism already provided a good framework for the prosecution and extradition of offenders and against money laundering. The recently passed Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) would further enhance those efforts. Croatia welcomed that far-reaching resolution and intended to speed up ratification of all anti-terrorism conventions to which it was not already party. Croatia also believed that with the establishment of a new International Criminal Court now in sight, even in the absence of action by some States, the global community would have the means to bring perpetrators of those particular crimes against humanity to justice.
He said that Croatia was committed to the fight against terrorism, regardless of the perpetrators, and that any attempt to equate terrorist activity with specific religions or ethnic groups was totally unacceptable. He added that, although terrorist acts had prevented the Assembly from convening its planned
special session on children, Member States now had the chance to undertake an initiative of utmost importance to their future -- to commit to leaving them a world free of terrorism. “It will be a long and arduous battle, but our children’s future rests on it,” he said.
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