WORLD COMMUNITY MUST SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE IN FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM, ASSEMBLY’S LEGAL COMMITTEE TOLD

2 October 2002
GA/L/3209

WORLD COMMUNITY MUST SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE IN FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM, ASSEMBLY’S LEGAL COMMITTEE TOLD

02/10/02
Press ReleaseGA/L/3209

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Sixth Committee

8th Meeting (PM)

WORLD COMMUNITY MUST SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE IN FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM,

ASSEMBLY’S LEGAL COMMITTEE TOLD

Speakers Urge Progress towards Comprehensive Convention

Terrorism could be effectively combated if the international community spoke with one voice, the representative of Burkina Faso told the Sixth Committee (Legal) this afternoon, as the Committee continued its discussion of measures to eliminate international terrorism.

The best campaign against terrorism would be a comprehensive convention that contained a clear definition of terrorism and addressed the problem in all its dimensions, including the existence of environments of poverty and frustration that terrorists often took advantage of, he said.

Myanmar’s representative insisted that no international terrorist who had taken innocent lives in one country should be able to walk as a free man in another.  The international community must ensure that a terrorist could not find refuge in another country by misusing political asylum.

While urging resolution of the pending issues on the draft comprehensive convention on terrorism, and on the suppression of nuclear terrorism acts, the representative of Venezuela said all the legal counter-terrorism measures would not be enough if the international community did not also pay attention to the root causes that generated conditions conducive to terrorism.

The speaker for Sri Lanka said his Government had embarked on a political process with a group that had engaged in an armed conflict with successive democratically elected governments for well over two decades.  While no cause whatsoever could justify terrorism, he said, Sri Lanka saw a need to address the underlying grievances of minority groups at a political level to remove the seeds of political discontent that led to conflicts within States.

On the issue of a definition of terrorism in the comprehensive convention, the representative of Sudan, speaking for the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said acts of terrorism, involving attacks on civilian populations, should be differentiated from legitimate struggles of peoples under colonial, alien or foreign domination for self-determination and national liberation, as recognized and defined by the United Nations.

Nepal’s speaker asked the international community to extend technical assistance to developing countries to complement their national efforts.  The representative of Japan said his Government, in close cooperation with the Security Council’s Counter-terrorism Committee, intended to offer expertise and technology to States which needed support for capacity-building to fight terrorism.

Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Denmark (for the European Union), South Africa, New Zealand, China, Ghana, Tunisia, Jordan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Chile, Libya, Benin and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Sixth Committee meets again Thursday, 3 October, at 10 a.m. to continue the debate on terrorism.

Background

The Sixth Committee (Legal) met this afternoon to continue its debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism.  For background information, see Press Release GA/L/3208 of today's date.

Statements

MARTIN KOFOD (Denmark), speaking for the European Union, said security and democracy could never be taken for granted but had to be defended actively and ceaselessly.  Those who perpetrated and sponsored terrorist acts must be brought to justice and punished.  The terrorist attacks of 11 September had given rise to the most comprehensive international cooperation in decades.  From the outset, the United Nations, in particular the Security Council, had assumed a central role.  The establishment of the Council’s Counter-terrorism Committee filled a gap by monitoring the implementation of the Council’s resolution by United Nations Member States.  By creating a dialogue with the countries concerned, the Committee had expanded its role beyond monitoring.  It also identified needs for technical assistance and communicated those needs to possible donors.  The European Union was ready to assist countries in their efforts to implement resolution  1373.

In the normative field, the United Nations also played a pivotal role.  Accession to and implementation of the 12 terrorism conventions remained crucial.  Unfortunately, agreement had not yet been reached on the scope of the application of the comprehensive convention and the nuclear terrorism convention.  The draft text on the comprehensive convention submitted by India formed an excellent basis for discussions.  He called on all Member States to pull together to reach a satisfactory outcome on the unresolved questions.  He added that the risk that certain terrorist organizations had obtained access to weapons of mass destruction made the draft convention on nuclear terrorism even more pertinent.

ALBERTUS J. HOFFMANN (South Africa) said his Government had sent two comprehensive reports to the Counter-terrorism Committee established under Security Council resolution 1373.  He said the South African Parliament had recently ratified the Organization of African Unity Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism.  The International Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the International Convention on the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism had been tabled in the South African Parliament, where it would be considered shortly.  Pivotal to South Africa’s efforts to counter terrorism had been the elaboration of an anti-terrorism bill by the South African Law Commission.  The bill had been submitted to Parliament for its consideration and adoption.

Referring to the Algiers African Union conference on terrorism, he said one of its outcomes was the adoption of a Plan of Action intended to give concrete expression to the commitments undertaken by African States in the Algiers Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism of 1999.  Towards that end, he said the Plan of Action included provisions to facilitate the exchange of information among member States of the African Union, legal assistance, tighter police and border patrol and monitoring mechanisms through annual reports to the Central Organ of the African Union.  The Plan of Action would be tabled at the next meetings of the African Union Executive Council of Ministers and of the Heads of State and Government for consideration and adoption.  He also said that the commitment to combat terrorism would be further enhanced at a sub-regional level when the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) considered and adopted a SADC Declaration against terrorism at their current meeting in Angola.

Efforts must be made to finalise the outstanding issues in the draft comprehensive convention on terrorism being negotiated in the Ad Hoc Committee, as well as the convening of a high-level conference against terrorism.  A failure to do so would undermine the strong commitment and message that United Nations Member States had been conveying -– that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations was unacceptable.

ELANA GEDDIS (New Zealand) expressed gratitude for the work the Council’s Counter-terrorism Committee had done to assist States in identifying and defining the standards for action.  She also welcomed its role in facilitating assistance to States to help them meet those standards.  There was a particular value in coordinating and cooperating at the regional level to develop and implement counter-terrorism measures, she said, citing several regional activities undertaken by her country to provide practical assistance to the Cook Islands and Niue.

New Zealand would soon be a party to a total of 10 of the 12 terrorism conventions and was taking steps to accede to the remaining two conventions.  She believed that the comprehensive convention could add value to the current normative framework by adding to and resolving gaps in the existing sectoral regime.

KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar) said that despite the many major conventions already in existence, a comprehensive convention was needed to further facilitate international cooperation.  No international terrorist who had taken innocent lives in one country should be able to walk as a free man in another.  The international community must ensure that a terrorist could not find refuge in another country by misusing political asylum.  Terrorist activities affected the stability of nations and the very basis of societies.  They impeded the full enjoyment of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.  As recent events had demonstrated, terrorism even had the ability to undermine international peace and stability.

Myanmar had strengthened its legislation and law enforcement activities and had acceded to a number of terrorism conventions.  It was also one of the countries to report to the Counter-terrorism Committee on actions it had taken.  It also had bilateral cooperation arrangements with neighbouring countries to prevent and suppress terrorist attacks and to take swift action against perpetrators.

QI DAHAI (China) said the terrorist attacks of 11 September not only severely traumatized the people of the United States but also shocked the entire world.  Over the past year, the international community had demonstrated unprecedented unity and cooperation in the fight against terrorism.  That cooperation included consultation and exchange of information and the freezing of assets, all of which was effective in combating terrorism.  The United Nations should play a leading role in the fight against terrorism and both the Security Council and the General Assembly had their parts in the fight.

In the fight against terrorism, both the symptoms and causes should be tackled with a comprehensive approach that included political, economic, diplomatic, social and other measures, so that the root causes of terrorism could be removed once and for all.  As development and poverty reduction were of extraordinary importance in the fight against terrorism, the international community should give higher and more urgent priority to those issues.  He expressed appreciation to the Council for putting the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement on its list of terrorist organizations, describing the group as a grave threat to regional security and stability as a result of its many acts of terrorism and violence inside and outside the territory of China. 

SRIMANTHAKA SENANAYAKE (Sri Lanka) said that despite the best efforts of the international community, the threat posed by global terrorism remained undiminished.  The response to terrorism must be concerted and comprehensive.  Each State had the responsibility to uphold the rule of law and play its part in extending the fullest support to the efforts against terrorism.  As the Security Council noted in the adoption of resolution 1373, there was a distinct and ominous link between global terrorism, drug trafficking, arms smuggling, money laundering and other transnational crimes including the trafficking of humans.

Sri Lanka knew better than most the tragedies that conflict and terrorism created, he said, citing statistics of 65,000 deaths and 800,000 internally displaced as a result of a 20-year conflict.  Sri Lanka was in the forefront of both global and regional efforts to combat global terrorism and organized crime.  It had taken immediate action to implement Council resolution 1373 and had subscribed to 10 of the 12 conventions on terrorism.  Calling for delegates to redouble their efforts in a spirit of compromise, he said it was imperative that every effort be made to see the fruition of the work accomplished by the Ad Hoc Committee over the last few sessions.

After speaking about Sri Lanka’s participation in regional efforts to combat terrorism, he said the government had also entered a new phase in embarking on a political process with a group that had engaged in an armed conflict with successive democratically elected governments for well over two decades.  While no cause whatsoever could justify terrorism, Sri Lanka saw a need to address the underlying grievances of minority groups at a political level, to remove the seeds of political discontent that led to conflicts within States.

OMER BASHIR MOHAMED MANIS (Sudan), speaking for the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said the group strongly condemned all acts, methods and practices of terrorism, including state terrorism, as unjustifiable, wherever and by whomever committed.  It was important for the international community to work together towards preventing and eliminating all forms of terrorism by engaging in closer cooperation and coordination among States.  That called for a United Nations-led, law-based, comprehensive, pragmatic and balanced approach.  The use of force must be a last resort and must take into account the humanitarian impact, which might give rise to a further vicious cycle of violence.  Members of his organization shared the Secretary-General’s view that response to terrorist attacks should be through the reaffirmation of the rule of law on the international and national levels.

It was important that a clear and universally agreed legal definition of terrorism was arrived at in the crafting of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.  Acts of terrorism, involving attacks on civilian populations, should be differentiated from legitimate struggles of peoples under colonial, alien or foreign domination for self-determination and national liberation, as recognized and defined by the United Nations, by the rules of international humanitarian law and other international declarations.

Any discussion of international terrorism would not be complete without dealing with the threat of nuclear terrorism.  He said that while the most effective way to prevent acts of nuclear terrorism lay in the total elimination of nuclear weapons, the adoption of an international convention for the suppression of such acts would be a step towards eliminating the threat.  Convening a United Nations conference on terrorism would serve to galvanize collective international effort at the highest possible level, he added. 

KWESI QUARTEY (Ghana) said his country had frequently condemned international terrorism and had always stressed its opposition to it.  Terrorist acts were unacceptable as a means of seeking redress for any grievances, whatever their purported political ends.  Ghana was currently party to a number of international conventions related to terrorism.  It had also ratified others, including the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation.

Within the country, a counter-terrorism intelligence centre had been established to coordinate, gather, collate and analyse terrorist-related information.  The struggle against terrorism could only be multilateral and international to be truly effective, he said.  Ghana was therefore ready to cooperate with all international actors to improve international peace and security.  The struggle for legitimate self-determination to combat foreign occupation must be distinguished from terrorism.

NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) noted with satisfaction the increasing number of States which had become party to international conventions related to terrorism.  He endorsed the statement made by the representative of the Sudan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.  He said he condemned all acts of terrorism which were unjustified and threatened the security of States.  Tunisia was one of the first countries to have warned against the phenomenon, he said, adding that it would continue to work to combat it.  Tunisia was party to all the international conventions against terrorism.  It had submitted reports to the Security Council Counter-terrorism Committee, in addition to periodic ones in response to other resolutions.  It had also submitted periodic reports on terrorism.

He said the time had come for the convening of an international conference on terrorism which would define a code of conduct for all States.  That should end the double standards in dealing with acts of terrorism.  He said the fight against terrorism depended upon the political will of all States.  He called for measures to prevent terrorists from seeking political asylum.  He hoped for the achievement of consensus on the outstanding issues hindering the conclusion of work on the draft comprehensive convention against terrorism.

SHREE HARI ARYAL (Nepal) supported the work on the draft conventions continuing in the framework of a working group.  Nepal was a party to several of the terrorism instruments and had provided information to the Counter-terrorism Committee.  Legal provisions had been implemented to prevent and punish terrorist acts.  He cited the efforts taken in South Asia under the auspices of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to combat terrorism.  The SAARC Summit had recognized the distinct ominous link between terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and other transnational crimes, and emphasized the need to coordinate efforts at the national and regional levels to strengthen the global response to terrorism.  The international community should extend cooperation to developing countries by providing them with technical assistance to complement their national efforts.

MAHMOUD HMOUD (Jordan) associated his country with the statement made by the representative of the Sudan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.  He said his Government supported international efforts to combat terrorism.  It had taken a number of measures, domestic and international, against the phenomenon, and had collaborated with regional bodies to combat it.

He said Jordan felt that the necessary efforts should be undertaken to confront terrorist attacks at all levels.  It was fully committed to working with others to achieve an agreement on the outstanding issues concerning the draft comprehensive convention on terrorism.  It supported the convening of an international conference to define terrorism.  It also supported the separation of the rights of peoples under foreign rule to fight for self-determination and independence from terrorist acts.

It would contribute to the completion of the drafting of the text on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.

MUN JONG CHOL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the gravity of the threat from terrorism required the international community to examine the root causes and devise practical means for addressing them.  The fight against terrorism should not be abused to pursue the strategic purposes of a specific country.  Attempts to expand the “war against terrorism” to other parts of the globe without justifiable reasons further destabilized the world.  He described as State terrorism the categorizing of countries as “good” or “evil”, according to one’s own interest as well as attempts toward military intervention by imposing the label of “axis of evil” and “terrorism sponsor” on a country or designating it as a “target of pre-emptive nuclear strike”.

A situation in which the opinions of most Member States were defied, in the face of the high-handedness of one State and its threats to launch a unilateral military attack on other countries under the guise of anti-terrorism, should not be tolerated or condoned.  The fight against terrorism must comply fully with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. 

ANGELA CAVALIERE (Venezuela) supported the importance and priority given to the terrorism issue.  She commended the Counter-terrorism Committee, to which her country had provided information, for its professionalism and dedication to the fight against terrorism.  Its coordinating and monitoring role was of vital importance in the fight against terrorism.  Stating that the campaign against international terrorism should involve all levels of international action, she said her country was equally interested in regional cooperation.

To be successful in the campaign, the international community needed to strengthen the existing legal framework against terrorism, she said.  Venezuela had become a party to several of the terrorism conventions and was in the process of taking steps to accede to the others.  States must review their legislation to ensure that it applied at the national level as well as the international level.  She supported the work on a comprehensive convention and one on nuclear terrorism.  However, all the legal counter-terrorism measures would not be enough if the international community did not also pay attention to the root causes that generated the conditions conducive to terrorism.

MAHMOUD SAMY (Egypt) said the events of 11 September had drawn attention more than ever to the phenomenon of terrorism, which should be confronted within a political and security framework.  His delegation endorsed the convening of a high-level international conference under United Nations auspices to determine how to confront the problem.  That approach had been endorsed by many delegations, he said.  The right to self-determination had been enshrined under international principles.  He called for a global convention that would distinguish the legitimate struggle for self-determination from terrorism.

Egypt had set up a national body which was coordinating its fight against terrorism.  The country’s parliament had promulgated an anti-terrorism law.  Egypt was playing a pivotal role in international efforts to combat terrorism, he said.

SHUICHI AKAMATSU (Japan) said that to prevent and eradicate international terrorism, the international community must first and foremost strengthen the international legal framework for the punishment and extradition of terrorists.  To effectively combat terrorist organizations with international networks, such as Al Qaeda, States must not give terrorists a safe haven.  Japan had become a party to all the United Nations conventions on terrorism and encouraged others to become parties.  In addition, in close cooperation with the Counter-terrorism Committee, his Government intended to offer expertise and technology to States which needed support for capacity-building to fight terrorism.

Japan supported the early adoption of the comprehensive convention and the one on nuclear terrorism.  While significant progress had been made in the negotiations, he said it was essential for every State to now show flexibility.  Japan would support the holding of a high-level United Nations meeting as long as it was organized to facilitate the ratification and implementation of a draft comprehensive convention after its adoption, and would contribute to the reinforcement of international solidarity and cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

PEDRO ORTUZAR (Chile) said that efforts to combat terrorism had attained a universal dimension since events of 11 September.  It had become a challenge that the international community must respond to.  Actions to combat terrorism should be conducted with respect to the United Nations Charter, international law and humanitarian principles.  Efforts must be redoubled and differences resolved for work on the draft comprehensive conventions to be completed.

Chile had ratified the 12 sectoral international conventions against terrorism, and had become party to similar regional instruments.  He stressed the importance of cooperation with developing countries to enable them to contribute to the fight against terrorism.

AHMED A. S. ELMESSALLATI (Libya) said his delegation endorsed the statement by the representative of the Sudan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic

Conference.  His country cooperated with efforts to combat terrorism, he said, adding that Libya had been a victim.  For the draft comprehensive convention against terrorism to achieve its objectives, it must be global in nature, with a clear definition of terrorism.  Any provision concerning the official actions of armed forces of states should be properly recognized by the international community.

Actions of the Palestinian people to rid their country of foreign occupation should be distinguished from terrorism.  Libya condemned state terrorism.  Libya was proud to be a party to many of the international conventions against terrorism, including the African Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism.  Libya believed in the strengthening of cooperation and bilateral agreements to combat terrorism.

SIFANA IBSEN KONE (Burkina Faso) said his country was preparing to become a party to all the United Nations terrorism conventions as well as several other relevant instruments.  Despite the best efforts of the international community, terrorists continued to intimidate and provoke unrest.  That was not a sign, though, that the international community was incapable of combating terrorism, nor was it an indication that terrorism was invincible.  Terrorism could be effectively combated if the international community spoke with one voice.  The best campaign against terrorism would be a comprehensive convention that contained a clear definition of terrorism and addressed the problem in all its dimensions, including the existence of environments of poverty and frustration that terrorists often took advantage of.

NICOLE J.ELISHA (Benin) said the 11 September events reminded the people of her country of the terrorist attack against Benin in 1977.  She said the Government was in the process of establishing a special anti-terrorist body which would, among other activities, exchange information with similar bodies on terrorist networks.  It was cooperating with the International Police Organization in the West African sub-region.  The country’s National Assembly was about to sign all the relevant legal instruments against terrorism.  A new criminal code had provisions against the recruitment of terrorists in the country.

KIWANDA PUTU (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said there should be focus on the causes of terrorism and the means to combat it.  His delegation supported Security Council resolution 1373 on terrorism and the Counter-terrorism Committee established under it.  His country had signed a number of the international conventions to combat terrorism.  He called for international cooperation in the fight against terrorism.  Efforts were being made to harmonize the country’s criminal code with provisions of the relevant international anti-terrorist conventions.

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For information media. Not an official record.