PRESS BRIEFING ON NUCLEAR Terrorism CONVENTION
Calling the adoption of the draft convention on nuclear terrorism by the General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism a landmark achievement, Committee Chairman Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka) said the text would provide a legal regime to combat the menace of terrorism, and situations where nuclear material might fall into the hands of non-State actors.
Joining Mr. Perera was the coordinator for the negotiations on the draft convention, Albert Hoffman of South Africa. The draft convention, the thirteenth in the line of international conventions for the suppression of terrorism, would now go before the Assembly for adoption and then open for signature on 14 September, the start of the high-level plenary of the Assembly’s sixtieth session.
The convention, continued Mr. Perera, sought to provide a broad legal framework for international cooperation through the exchange of information among State parties for preventing acts of nuclear terrorism. It would also promote cooperation in the area of assistance to States to deal with crisis situations created by terrorists having possession of nuclear material, as well as in post-crisis situations, to render the nuclear material safe, in accordance with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. It envisaged a broad range of mutual assistance obligations.
The basic legal regime, he said, provided for either extradition or prosecution of terrorist offenders found within the territory of a State party. The underlining rationale was that terrorist offenders with recourse to nuclear terrorism should not find safe haven within the territory of any MemberState. The State must extradite the offender to a country seeking extradition or prosecute the person in its own courts.
Mr. Hoffman recalled that the negotiations had been stuck on key, politically motivated, outstanding issues that the Committee had tried to deal with for several years. He was pleased with the will and flexibility of delegations over the course of the past couple of days to reach agreement.
Asked to elaborate on some of the proposals that were eventually withdrawn, Mr. Perera noted a proposal by Pakistan on use of nuclear weapons by States, which many felt were outside the scope of a law enforcement convention dealing with non-State actors. While disarmament treaties dealt with the actions of States, the draft convention dealt with the acts of individuals. The scope of the convention, as with the other 12 in the area of terrorism, dealt with individual criminal responsibility. The proposal of Pakistan was to include the acts of States in the draft convention.
Another proposal, Mr. Hoffman added, was by Cuba, relating to the inclusion of the actions of troops and military forces. A third proposal was by the United States, which wanted to add to the preambular paragraph the idea that the goals of the peaceful utilization of nuclear technology should not be used as a cover for proliferation. That, in turn, had led to a proposed amendment to the United States proposal by Iran -- to say that all States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The convention, he said, criminalized the activities of individuals, and it was up to States to adopt the necessary measures to establish those criminal offences and make them punishable under domestic law.
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