COMPLETION OF TWO FURTHER CONVENTIONS AGAINST TERRORISM IS URGED IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY’S LEGAL COMMITTEE

4 October 2002
GA/L/3211

COMPLETION OF TWO FURTHER CONVENTIONS AGAINST TERRORISM IS URGED IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY’S LEGAL COMMITTEE

04/10/2002
Press ReleaseGA/L/3211

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Sixth Committee

10th Meeting (AM)

COMPLETION OF TWO FURTHER CONVENTIONS AGAINST TERRORISM

IS URGED IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY’S LEGAL COMMITTEE

Delegates Note Ongoing Efforts of Bodies with Mandated Task

As the Sixth Committee (Legal) met this morning to continue its debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism, representatives called for the speedy completion of work on a comprehensive anti-terrorism convention and another on suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism convention.

Speaking of those draft texts being negotiated in an Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly, and in a working group, Uganda’s representative said the legal entities which sponsored terrorist activities should be included.  Peru’s representative called for vigilance to prevent abuse of asylum principles in protecting terrorists.

Regional concerns regarding terrorism were also expressed.  Israel’s representative said the “dark forces of national and religious fundamentalism” that had been unleashed were not limited to her region.  Terrorism was abhorrent but it could be defeated.  The life supply of terrorists -- financing and State support -- must be cut off.

Azerbaijan’s representative said aggressive separatism was a root cause of terrorism.  It wasn’t enough to chase manifestations of terrorism.  The root causes must be eliminated.  The delegate of Armenia said terrorism and related crimes were international problems.  The response to them must also be international.  Concerted efforts were needed at all levels –- national, regional and international. 

Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Fiji (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum), Belarus, Turkey, Swaziland, Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine (also on behalf of neighboring countries), Paraguay, Gabon, Ethiopia, Ecuador and Guatemala.  

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Armenia, Israel, Egypt and Azerbaijan.  

In other business, two draft resolutions were introduced.  One, introduced by Hungary, recommended observer status in the work of the General Assembly for

10th Meeting (AM)

the Inter-Parliamentary Union.  Another, introduced by China, recommended observer

status with the Assembly for the Asian Development Bank.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 7 October.  It will take action on those draft resolutions as well as on drafts recommending observer status for the International Centre for Migration Policy Development and for Partners in Population and Development.  The Committee will also begin its consideration of the report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization.

Background

The Sixth Committee (Legal) meets this morning to conclude its debate on measures to combat international terrorism, and then to take up the report on the 2002 session of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization which took place at Headquarters from 18 to 28 March (document A/57/33).

The report includes the Special Committee’s recommendations to the General Assembly, covering, among other issues, implementation of United Nations Charter provisions on assistance to third countries affected by sanctions, strengthening of the Organization’s role in the maintenance of international peace and security and the prevention and settlement of disputes between States.  (For more details on the report see Press Release GA/L/3210 of 3 October.)

Statements on elimination of international terrorism

JULIET SEMAMBO KALEMA (Uganda) said terrorists continued to operate in the northern region of her country with the result that thousands of people, including women and children, had been abducted, maimed or killed indiscriminately.  That was why her Government condemned all acts of terrorism and reaffirmed its commitment to combat it.  Uganda was still committed to the implementation of the Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism annexed to General Assembly resolution 49/60 of 9 December 1994.  The Declaration was still as important in the war against terrorism as when it was first adopted.  Uganda had signed the two international conventions on suppression of terrorist bombings and financing of terrorism.

She said Uganda favoured the draft texts on suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism and on the comprehensive convention on international terrorism being discussed in the Ad Hoc Committee.  Her delegation hoped that legal entities which sponsored terrorist activities could be included in the latter text.  It would also like to see the root causes of terrorism dealt with outside the convention.    

She listed actions her Government had taken in response to Security Council resolution 1373 on terrorism mentioning, among others, the establishment of a national committee to coordinate implementation of United Nations anti-terrorism conventions and resolutions.

AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group, said the Group had worked hard during the last year, both individually and collectively, to combat terrorism in the region.  The Nasonini Declaration on Regional Security, which their 16 leaders issued in August of this year, affirmed their common commitment to cooperation on law enforcement, backed by a strong legislative base, as a key element in addressing the threat of terrorism and transnational crime.  The Declaration also underlined the importance of introducing legislation and developing national strategies to combat serious crime, including terrorist financing and terrorism, money laundering, drug trafficking, people smuggling and people trafficking.

Many members of the Group had in the past year ratified those of the existing twelve counter-terrorism instruments to which they were not already party.  The fight against terrorism could not be won with statements of intent, he said.  It needed concrete and practical cooperation, and it needed the continuous enhancement of capacity to take action.  Capacity limitation presented a major challenge to many of the members of the Pacific Islands Group.  Several of them were in dialogue with the Security Council's Counter-terrorism Committee, and were also looking at what more could be done regionally and bilaterally. 

There was no room for complacency, he said, and the Pacific region recognized that there could be no standing still in the fight against terrorism.  No region was truly pacific, when it came to the threat of terrorism.

ANDREI POPKOV (Belarus) said that his country condemned international terrorism in all its forms, and supported the measures within the framework of the United Nations to form a broad international coalition against it.  His delegation believed that during the first year of its work, the Counter-terrorism Committee had taken a firm position in the anti-terrorism system of the Organization, and gained the international authority needed for its more active involvement in suppressing international terrorism.  He supported strengthened interaction between that Committee and existing subdivisions of the Secretariat, as well as with regional and national bodies involved in combating terrorism.  He said Belarus was ready to support any initiatives aimed at strengthening cooperation in that field.

He noted his country's anti-terrorism activities, including its accession to several international instruments and adoption of the law "on the fight against terrorism" on 3 January 2002.  He appealed to Member States to elaborate a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, overcoming disagreements on the scope of its application, as soon as possible, and likewise also to adopt an international convention for suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism as soon as possible.  His delegation strongly favoured the convening of a high-level conference to formulate joint international response to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

TEOMAN UYKUR (Turkey) said his country, which suffered from terrorism, had long called attention to the problem, warning the international community about the scourge.  Terrorism was a common problem for all, and no nation could deem itself immune from it, he said.  Turkey therefore attached utmost importance to the work being done within United Nations bodies to eliminate international terrorism.  Turkey had submitted two reports to the Security Council’s Counter-terrorism Committee and was also party to the 12 international anti-terrorism conventions.

CLIFFORD MAMBA (Swaziland) said the challenge was to ensure that any action taken to defeat terrorism did not create wider problems and deeper divisions between members of the global family.  The only viable response to the crisis was through joint action at the United Nations.  A comprehensive legal framework against terrorism should be concluded at the earliest possible date.  A joint organized response of the international community to terrorism through a high level conference should continue to be considered.

He said his country was fully implementing its obligations under Security Council resolution 1373 (2001), which was the world’s stern response to terrorism.  Priority was given to strengthening the legal regime in the field.  A bill on internal security was about to be tabled in Parliament.  It outlined measures related to the Council resolution.  Measures to strengthen the terrorism prevention branch of the Centre for International Crime Prevention in Vienna were welcome. 

RICARDO BOCALANDRO (Argentina) said the United Nations had a central role to play in combating terrorism.  States must close ranks and reinforce their cooperation to fight terrorism and to judge those responsible.  As Argentina had twice suffered from terrorist attacks in the past decade, it was well aware of the need to continue developing norms and international actions to eliminate terrorism.  He supported the adoption of a comprehensive convention and another on suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.

He said it was also indispensable, however, for States to translate those decisions domestically.  Citing the importance of regional cooperation as well, he said the Organization of American States had adopted a modern convention against terrorism and had established an inter-American Committee against terrorism to promote cooperation in the fight.

LAZARE MAKAYAT SAFOVESSE (Congo) said his country welcomed the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on terrorism.  It unambiguously condemned all terrorist acts, and had taken a number of practical steps to implement Security Council resolution 1373 designed to strengthen international cooperation in the prevention and suppression of international terrorism.  That effort was being applied nationally by a variety of comprehensive anti-terrorism measures undertaken by his Government.  He said the international community must confront terrorism.  The Congo was satisfied that the Ad Hoc Committee was moving in the right direction in finding appropriate responses to terrorism.

He said the latest report of the Ad Hoc Committee was balanced and likely to attract wider appreciation. He encouraged delegations to work towards the achievement of a consensus on the outstanding issues. 

MARCEL BIATO (Brazil) said that his country had ratified 10 of the international counter-terrorism conventions, and looked forward to quickly acceding to the remaining ones.  Brazil had presented three reports to the Security Council committee on counter-terrorism and would continue to collaborate with the Council by adopting appropriate domestic legislation and procedures.  It joined the international community in its determination to conclude early negotiations on a comprehensive counter-terrorism convention.  That instrument would be a milestone in the establishment of a comprehensive instrument to terrorism that still eluded definition.  The adoption of the instrument would send a powerful message on the international community’s determination to deal forcefully and coherently with the terrorist threat.  Brazil supported the proposal that once the convention was concluded, an international conference be convened to develop comprehensive anti-terrorist strategies.

At the regional level, Brazil had engaged in the fight against terrorism, joining in the establishment of the Inter-American Committee to Combat Terrorism last October.  The Committee, established under the aegis of the Organization of American States (OAS), was to foster regional action on two fronts -– financial and border controls.  The initiative was underscored last June when the General Assembly of the OAS adopted an Inter-American Convention against Terrorism, providing for a general framework for juridical cooperation on the basis of existing and future conventions on terrorism.

He said the sense of solidarity which brought States together to combat terrorism must also guide their endeavours to find long-lasting solutions to the underlying issues closely identified with the root causes of terrorism, namely conflict, poverty, ignorance and racism.  The United Nations was uniquely placed to meet the challenge, he said.

OLEKSIY ILNYTSKYI (Ukraine), speaking also for Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Uzbekistan (the GUUAM States), said the proper addressing of terrorism had been the top priority for the group from its inception.  It was connected with combating organized crime and drug trafficking, a main objective of the group and inscribed in its Charter.

He said a GUUAM Summit had been held in July in Yalta, Ukraine.  A Declaration had been signed on common efforts to ensure stability and security in the region.  By that declaration, members of the group had stated their determination to create the political, legal and organizational basis for overcoming the challenges of international terrorism, separatism, intolerance, extremism and related illegal actions.  An Agreement had also been signed on cooperation between GUUAM governments in combating terrorism, organized crime and other crimes.  The Foreign Ministers of those States had met in New York in September.  They were ready to elaborate concrete projects in the framework of cooperation among themselves.  

ELSHAD ISKANDAROV (Azerbaijan) said his country supported all international efforts to combat terrorism.  It had signed and ratified the convention on the suppression of financing, national legal instruments had been brought into conformity with international standards in the field and air space had been opened for cooperation.  The country was cooperating with law enforcement elements at all levels.  It had captured and extradited those accused by their own governments of terrorist activities.

There was only one area not open to Azerbaijan’s efforts, he said, and that was the area occupied by Armenia.  Since the 1980s when Armenia invaded Azerbaijan, 32 terrorist attacks had occurred on Azerbaijan territory.  The terrorists involved in those attacks were not acting alone; they were connected to terrorist networks. 

International terrorism, he said,  had become the first global challenge of the new millennium.  It was not enough to chase manifestations of terrorism.  The root causes must be eliminated.   One of those was aggressive separatism.  Actions connected with terrorism undermined the very basis of the United Nations and its Charter.  Nations should unite on the basis of principles and not narrow national interests.

ELADIO LOIZAGA (Paraguay) said his country supported the fight against terrorism and the adoption of all means necessary to combat the scourge in all its forms and manifestations, according to international law.  He noted that the question had been a fixture on the United Nations agenda for many years.  A number of factors, including cold war ideologies, had impeded effective action against terrorism.  Collective efforts were needed and priority must be given to concluding work in the Ad Hoc Committee on the draft comprehensive convention against terrorism and the draft convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.

Paraguay had taken a firm position in condemning international terrorism, he said, and had adopted the Security Council resolution on counter terrorism.  It had submitted reports required under that resolution.  He reaffirmed his country’s decision to continue to cooperate with the Counter-terrorism Committee established under the resolution.  Paraguay had become party to the 12 anti-terrorism instruments, as well as the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism.

AUGUSTO CABRERA(Peru) said his country had been among the countries that had suffered terrorism and had managed to defeat it on its soil.  In a globalized world, no country could be immune from terrorism.  Peru would continue to speak out and reaffirm its forceful condemnation of terrorism.  It had become party to all the United Nations counter terrorism instruments.  Peru had played host to a conference on international terrorism.  It supported work on the comprehensive convention against terrorism initiated by India.  He hoped the outstanding issues would be overcome for the text to be completed.  The adoption of the instrument was a challenge.  At the same time work on the draft instrument on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism proposed by the Russian Federation should be completed.

He drew attention to the need for vigilance in preventing the abuse of asylum principles in protecting terrorists.  He urged the implementation by all States of the International Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.

RUSSEL MEZEME-MBA (Gabon) said it was urgent to accelerate negotiations on drafting the general convention and the one on nuclear terrorism.  The effort to counter terrorism must be global.  To coordinate strategies to combat terrorism, a summit should be held at the United Nations.  However, the strategies for countering international terrorism should also deal with a broader range of issues.  Responses to armed conflicts, economic concerns and social conditions that served as pretexts for some terrorist groups should be addressed.

BIRHANEMESKEL ABEBE (Ethiopia) said his country had been the victim of terrorism a number of times in recent years.  The United Nations must play the central role in eliminating international terrorism.  Ethiopia had taken numerous steps to that end; they were wide-ranging and included administrative and legislative actions at the national, regional and international levels.

The two conventions presently before the Ad Hoc Committee must be finalized, he said.  That could be done if flexibility and the political will were exercised.  Both formal and informal consultations within the working group would lead to the successful conclusion of that work.

ADY SCHONMANN (Israel) said civilization was the recognition that certain values such as human life and dignity were sacrosanct and that no goal or political objective could justify violating them.  Terrorists turned everything they touched to hatred and bloodshed.  Ambulances became vehicles for bombs; places of worship became fortresses; parents urged their children to follow siblings to death.  She said the “dark forces of national and religious fundamentalism” that had been unleashed were not limited to her region.  Terrorism was not an inevitable result or imperative.  But, if homicidal, suicidal terrorism was not decisively defeated, it would threaten free societies throughout the world.

Terrorism was abhorrent, she continued, but it was also vulnerable.  Its weak points must be the focus of those who would defeat it.  While the proponents of terrorism could not be attacked directly, their life supply could be cut off.  Their financing and their support by States must be targeted.  International terrorism was a business that could not operate without a steady flow of funds.  It fed on a vast logical and financial infrastructure.  While Governments were loath to take steps against charitable organizations, for example, it must be recognized that terrorist fund-raising in a charitable guise was a doubly heinous crime.  A second weakness of terrorists was that they could not operate in a vacuum; they were dependent on sympathetic States for sponsorship and support.  The position of the international community must be forthright:  sponsoring terrorism and permitting terrorist groups to act with impunity from within one’s borders were not among the prerogatives of sovereignty.

She said neutrality was not an option in the fight against terrorism.  States that behaved as if they were neutral were not neutral; they were accomplices to terror and must be made to pay the price.  In addition, terrorism was defined by actions and not by the aim of those actions.  There was no equivalence between those perpetrating terrorism and those fighting it in self-defence.  No principle of international law could justify the murder of innocent civilians.  Admitting the possibility that it could was only an invitation for terrorists to carry out their inhumane acts.  The courageous people who went about their daily lives despite the terrorist threats must be recognized for their extraordinary courage.

She said it was unfortunate that Syria had lectured the Committee yesterday on terrorism.  It was a country that actively harboured, supported, financed and encouraged terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, whose expertise was in the business of terrorism.  It was surreal that a member of the Security Council defied Council resolutions with impunity.

MOVSES ABELIAN (Armenia) said Armenia was fully committed to working with the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee established under resolution 1373 and was determined to contribute to all United Nations actions towards that end.

In the context of its ongoing cooperation with the international institutions, Armenia was hosting a conference on “the International Fight against Terrorism: Perspective for Regional Cooperation in the Southern Caucasus”, to be hel on 8-9 October under the auspices of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. 

He expressed regret and disappointment about the decision of the delegation of Azerbaijan during the current General Assembly session to continue its unfortunate habit of using every possible agenda item to unleash its propagandist anti-Armenian campaign.  The groundless accusations against his country, as irrelevant as they were, clearly demonstrated the corrupt policy of Azerbaijani officials to use or misuse the issues on the global agenda for their country’s short-term benefit.

LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador) said terrorism was to be most forcefully condemned.  Uprooting terrorism required a concerted effort, within the context of the United Nations Charter and with full respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic values.  Ecuador, he said, fully supported all efforts of the international community in that regard.  It was also active in regional activities, taking actions to bring its legislation into line with international norms.

Reviewing the wide-ranging domestic activities taken to strengthen the capability to fight terrorism, he said prevention was as important as suppression.  A global strategy was required to address international terrorism.  It should not be limited to military activities; rather, it should also focus on building the conditions to defeat those who used negative conditions as a pretext for terrorist activities.  The United Nations was where the effort should be led.

ROBERTO LAVALLE-VALDÉS (Guatemala) said ordinary citizens within a country could not conceive the steps the international community was taking in response to the horror of last year’s attacks on the United States, and the ensuing international terrorist threat.  Those steps were being taken because the world had found it deplorable and discouraging that norms adopted at a national level were unable to prevent the tragedy.  Knowledge of such vulnerability had negatively affected every aspect of human relations.

He said his country had signed four of the 12 instruments related to terrorism.  While 11 September had intensified the Committee’s work on questions related to terrorism, the standard-setting work had already been done prior to the events of that date.  The work on the two conventions now before the Committee must be finalized.   

Rights of reply

The representative of Lebanon, speaking in right of reply, said Israel was exploiting the events of 11 September to deprive the Palestinian people of their right to self-determination.  Israel was defying international legality and international resolutions.  It had ignored Security Council resolutions for

25 years.  He said Hezbollah was active in Lebanese political and social affairs.  Israel refused to respect Security Council resolutions and continued its policies of terror.  Israel had weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological weapons.  Israel had been threatening the territorial integrity of Lebanon.  It had been using State terrorism which had been condemned in the Committee.

The representative of Syria said that before the creation of the State of Israel, nothing was known of terrorism.  A group of terrorists used terrorism to force Palestinians to flee the territory.  Israeli terrorism had also affected the United Nations.  Israelis had assassinated a United Nations official Count Bernadotte.  He reminded the Israeli delegate that the “Prime Minister of Israel, Sharon, had his hands drenched in the blood of children”, who were massacred in the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon.  He said Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres also had his hands drenched in blood.  He said Israel carried out attacks in populated areas, causing the deaths of many.  The United Nations had long recognized the right of peoples to rid themselves of occupation and for self-determination.

He said members of the Security Council had always welcomed the position of Syria and its constructive role in the work of the Council’s Counter-terrorism committee.  He reminded the Israeli delegate that her country had violated 27 resolutions, including the recent Security Council resolution 1435, which Israel had no intention of respecting.

Syria had provided haven to members of the Hezbollah movement who had been forced from their homes by Israel.  Israeli terrorism was well-known.

The representative of Azerbaijan said his country had always favoured an unconditional struggle against terrorism.  Its concern over international terrorism, including that of Armenia, was known.  It had mentioned this in the

50th and 51st sessions of the General Assembly.  He would like to hear from the Armenian delegation how many acts of terrorism his country had organized.  Armenian terrorist actions had led to the deaths of about 2,000 in his country. He would also like to know the percentage of Armenian territory which had been subjected to terrorist acts.  He said 20 per cent of Azerbaijan territory had been occupied by Armenian terrorists; that had been confirmed by non-governmental organizations.

The representative of Jordan said the right of a State to self-defence against terrorism in the territory it occupied could not be upheld when the inhabitants were a protected population.  What governed the relationship between the occupier and the occupied territory were the principles of international humanitarian law, including those of the Fourth Geneva Convention related to the protection of civilians in armed conflicts and the First Protocol of the Geneva Convention of 1949.  As such, the occupier was obliged in its combat of terrorism in the occupied territory to respect the basic principles related to the protection of civilians in the territory, including the non-committal of acts of collective punishment, targeted killing, non-transfer of the protected population outside the occupied territory and the non-transfer of the occupier’s own population to the occupied territory.

The representative of Armenia said Azerbaijan policy of applying labels, confusing discussions and manufacturing charges was morally deficient from the outset, since its aim was to mislead international public opinion as well as resolving internal political problems through fraud and manipulations.  He said the reasons for which Azerbaijan spared no efforts to portray Nagorno-Karabakh as a terrorist stronghold and Armenia as a terrorist State were obvious.  It was apparently much easier for official Baku to blame a national group of being involved in terrorist activities than to respond in a civilized manner to its legitimate and non-violent claim for self-determination.

The representative of Israel, replying to the statement by the representative of Lebanon, said Lebanon would be well served to heed not only the calls of the international community but those of its own high-minded rhetoric as well.  Following Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, in full conformity with United Nations Security Council resolution 425, Lebanon should have implemented its commitments under that resolution to assert its effective authority and restore security there, instead of allowing Hezbollah terrorists to operate freely and to launch attacks across the Lebanese border.  She said Lebanon continued to harbour, support and encourage terrorists to build infrastructure on its soil, while failing to comply with Security Council resolutions, particularly the recent 1373 which stipulated that all States must refrain from providing any support to all persons or entities involved in terrorist acts.

The representative of Egypt said his delegation associated itself with the statement of Jordan.

The representative of Azerbaijan said he had not used the right of reply to lead anybody astray, but to draw attention to Armenian actions.

The representative of Lebanon said Hezbollah was a party which participated in the political life of Lebanon.  It had succeeded in forcing Israel to end its occupation of Lebanon.  Its activities took place in Israeli-occupied lands.  Lebanon had fully observed relevant General Assembly and other resolutions on terrorism.  It condemned terrorism.  He said Israeli military planes had always violated Lebanese airspace.  The Secretary-General had, in his reports on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), said that such violations had become routine.

The representative of Armenia said the reference to the Armenian armed aggression was totally misleading.  The fighting in the region was the forced resort to self-defence of the Karabahk population.  Armenia had done what the international community expected of it, namely using its good offices to help find a peaceful to the conflict in the region.

Introduction of Drafts

The representative of Hungary introduced a draft resolution on observer status for the Inter-parliamentary Union in the General Assembly (document A/C.6/57/L.5).  He said regional support would ensure the passage of the resolution in the Assembly.  Also, 32 countries had originally sponsored the draft.  Italy, Malta, Monaco, Denmark, Bangladesh, Argentina, Viet Nam, Nigeria, Canada and Greece also became sponsors.

The representative of China introduced the draft on observer status for the Asian Development Bank in the General Assembly (document A/C.6/57/L.6).  He said 12 countries were sponsors of the draft.

The Chairman of the Committee, Arpad Prandler (Hungary), said both drafts would be acted upon on Monday, 7 October.  Also up for action on that day was a draft on observer status for the International Centre for Migration Policy Development in the General Assembly (document A/C.6/57/L.7).  The draft had been introduced last Friday by Austria.  That country’s representative said nine countries had sponsored the draft originally.  Austria, Finland, Norway and Slovenia also became sponsors.

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For information media. Not an official record.