Ad Hoc Committee on Assembly
33rd Meeting (AM)
ACTION NEEDED ON TWO DRAFT CONVENTIONS THIS YEAR, AD HOC COMMITTEE
ON TERRORISM TOLD, AS IT BEGINS CURRENT SESSION
If the United Nations General Assembly wanted to be a serious player in the effort to combat terrorism, then its Ad Hoc Committee needed to conclude its work on the two pending anti-terrorism draft conventions and refer the consensus texts to the Assembly without further delay, the United States representative told the Ad Hoc Committee today at the opening of its 2005 session.
The Ad Hoc Committee, whose annual session is due to conclude on 1 April, was established by the General Assembly in 1996 to elaborate an international convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings and, subsequently, an international convention for the suppression of nuclear terrorism, to supplement related existing international instruments.
In seeking to develop a comprehensive legal framework under a mandate that is reviewed and revised annually by the Assembly, the Ad Hoc Committee had already presented for adoption two draft conventions: the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, adopted by the Assembly in 1997; and the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, adopted in 1999. Work on two more drafts -- on a comprehensive international anti-terrorism convention and on the suppression of nuclear terrorism -- continues.
The United States speaker, an attorney in the Office of the Legal Adviser of Department of State, said the time had come for action on both draft conventions this year. The nuclear terrorism draft had been under discussion since February 1998, and the draft comprehensive convention since September 2000. With good faith efforts on all sides, it was possible to reach consensus this week on the draft nuclear terrorism convention. Progress could also be achieved on the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, with a view to completing work on that text in the fall.
In the general debate that followed, speakers cited recent developments, which should serve to motivate the Committee’s work, namely the report of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, and the Secretary-General’s report, issued on 21 March, entitled “In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all”.
The High-Level Panel’s report, asserting that terrorism attacked the very values enshrined in the United Nations Charter, said that the Assembly should rapidly complete work on the comprehensive anti-terrorism convention. The 21 March report of the Secretary-General reiterated the urgent need to conclude the comprehensive text before the end of the Assembly’s sixtieth session, and to complete, without delay, the draft convention on nuclear terrorism suppression.
The newly re-elected Committee Chairman, Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka) said that the Ad Hoc Committee owed it to the international community to discharge that responsibility efficiently and in full, in keeping with the norm-setting functions of the General Assembly. The work accomplished so far, though inconclusive, was nevertheless substantial. Stressing that the time had come to resolve those remaining issues, he said, “we cannot be seen as lagging behind on issues, however complex they may be, which are requiring the urgent attention of the international community”. Hopefully, in the Ad Hoc Committee’s commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, it would be able to garner the necessary political will and motivation to move forward at the current session.
The Chairman also invited delegations to submit specific proposals on the possible convening of a high-level United Nations conference to formulate a joint organized international response to terrorism in all its forms.
In other business, the Committee adopted its agenda for the week-long session and reaffirmed the continuation of the following officers for a further session: the Chairman; two Vice-Chairmen, Carlos Fernando Díaz Paniagua (Costa Rica) and Albert Hoffmann (South Africa); and Rapporteur Lublin Dilja (Albania). Maria Telalian (Greece) was elected to replace Michael Bliss (Australia).
Statements were also made by the representatives of Colombia, Turkey (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference), Morocco, Venezuela, Republic of Korea, Syria, Netherlands (on behalf of the European Union), India, Russian Federation, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand, Tunisia, China, Switzerland, Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, Denmark and Iran.
The Ad Hoc Committee will meet again in an open session at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 31 March, to hear oral updates on the two draft conventions by the Coordinators.
The Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996, known as the Ad Hoc Committee on International Terrorism, opened its 2005 session today. The session, due to conclude on 1 April, was mandated to elaborate a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism and to resolve the outstanding issues relating to the elaboration of the draft international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.
Opening of Session
NICOLAS MICHEL, Legal Counsel, said that the Ad Hoc Committee should, on an expedited basis, continue to elaborate the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, and to resolve outstanding issues relating to the elaboration of the draft international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.
The Ad Hoc Committee then re-elected, by acclamation, Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka) as Chairman.
On a personal note, Mr. MICHEL expressed his sincere hope that States would be in a position to fully respond to the appeal made by the Secretary-General in his recent report, entitled “In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all” (document A/59/2005), that the two draft conventions before the Ad Hoc Committee, the draft comprehensive convention and the draft nuclear convention, be completed without further delay.
Chairman PERERA said there had been significant developments within the United Nations and outside since the Committee met last year, particularly the adoption of Security Council resolution 1556 (2004) and the issuance of the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which called for the rapid conclusion of negotiations on the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism and the draft international convention for the suppression of nuclear terrorism, with a view to adopting those instruments expeditiously. Indeed, the Council’s resolution and the High-Level Panel’s report had drawn and built upon the useful work accomplished over the years by the Ad Hoc Committee.
In his latest report, the Secretary-General reiterated in unequivocal terms the urgent need to bring the Ad Hoc Committee’s work to a successful conclusion, Mr. Perera noted. The Secretary-General’s appeal to Member States “to conclude a comprehensive convention on terrorism before the end of the sixtieth session of the General Assembly” and “to complete, without delay, an international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism”, was addressed primarily to the Ad Hoc Committee. That body must accept that challenge and, during the current session, exert all efforts to discharge its mandate.
In different regions of the world, the sense of urgency in completing the two draft conventions had found clear articulation, he said. The International Conference on Counter-Terrorism, convened by Saudi Arabia in February, and the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security, convened by the Club de Madrid with the participation of present and former heads of State and government earlier this month, also called for the early conclusion of the two drafts. So, too, did the Secretary-General in addressing the Madrid Conference. It was incumbent upon the Ad Hoc Committee, therefore, to heed that call and make every effort to resolve the outstanding issues, however complex those might be.
He said the Ad Hoc Committee owed it to the international community to discharge that responsibility efficiently and in full, in keeping with the norm-setting functions of the General Assembly. Significant progress had been achieved in moving towards a consensus on the nuclear terrorism convention when the Working Group constituted within the Framework of the Sixth Committee (Legal) had met during the fifty-ninth General Assembly session. There must also be a solution to remaining issues in the draft comprehensive convention. It was vital to maintain and consolidate the momentum, which had been generated both by the Working Group and in the Sixth Committee (Legal) last year. He, therefore, appealed to delegations to relentlessly continue their endeavours to reach a consensus until all collective efforts reached fruition.
The work accomplished so far, though inconclusive, was nevertheless substantial. The reports of the previous years of the Ad Hoc Committee and of the Working Group of the Sixth Committee all testified to that assertion. Considerable time had been invested in trying to resolve the remaining issues. The coordinator’s report on the results of the informal consultations was indicative of the renewed interest to consider fresh proposals and alternative solutions to the outstanding issues. The Ad Hoc Committee, therefore, should seize that moment of renewed optimism and positive spirit and make every effort to resolve the remaining outstanding issues, particularly those pertaining to articles 18 and 2 bis. Further work was required to overcome the remaining differences, and it was up to the Committee to find solutions acceptable to all.
Stressing that the time had come to resolve those remaining issues, he said, “we cannot be seen as lagging behind on issues, however complex they may be, which are requiring the urgent attention of the international community”. Hopefully, in the Ad Hoc Committee’s commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, it would be able to garner the necessary political will and motivation to move forward at the current session. It was of utmost importance that every effort be made to preserve and build upon what had been achieved in the past “without unravelling the text on which there is already substantial measure of agreement”. “We should have the intellectual courage to take a bold step in heeding the appeal made by the Secretary-General towards the finalization of the draft comprehensive convention before the end of the sixtieth session”, he urged.
MARÍA ÁNGELA HOLGUÍN (Colombia) said the international community’s commitment to combat terrorism must be unequivocal. There was only one kind of terrorism, and its victims deserved solidarity and support, including through the proposed International Fund to compensate the victims of terrorist acts. She also believed there could be no difference in degrees of terrorism, as its effects on societies were one and the same. Terrorism was different than other crimes because of its intention. Whatever its origin or motivation, terrorism had no justification under any circumstances. The High-Level Panel’s report on Threats, Challenges and Change, recalling Security Council resolution 1566, defined terrorist acts according to their objective or purpose. To achieve agreement on a universal concept of terrorism, it was necessary to focus on the purpose of the act and not to concentrate on the definition or description of its authors, who must be subject to punishment by law.
EMINE GÖKÇEN TUĞRAL (Turkey), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), strongly condemned all acts and practices of terrorism. Terrorism, irrespective of its motivations and objectives, forms and manifestations, could never be justified. Terrorism was a major violation of the one of the most fundamental human rights, namely the right to live. As such, it posed a grave threat to peace and security. While terrorism could not be tolerated under any pretext, it was important not to lose sight of the moral duty to address the legitimate grievances caused by despair, resentment, ignorance and poverty. It was also important to emphasize that terrorism had no religion, race, nationality or culture, nor was it confined to any particular region. Terrorism required a coordinated response. The quest to combat terrorism must adhere to the principles of international law and should be led by the United Nations.
Stressing the need for progress in negotiating the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, she said the Group was willing to explore new ideas and proposals that would help to overcome remaining differences. The OIC also strongly supported all efforts to adopt the draft International Convention on the Suppression of Nuclear Terrorism as soon as possible. Convening a United Nations Conference on Terrorism would serve the purpose of galvanizing collective international effort, based on a broad consensus at the highest level.
KARIM MEDREK (Morocco) said that, in view of the terrorism threat, his country had continued to engage in the struggle to defeat it, demonstrating its resolved and unreserved position. Without qualifications, Morocco condemned terrorism in all its forms, regardless of its motivation or perpetrators. In an attempt to complete the international legal framework against terrorism, the General Assembly had adopted resolution 59/46 aimed at pursuing negotiations on a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism and on the suppression of nuclear terrorism. Regrettably, a lack of “authentic political resolve” had prevented the attainment of the necessary compromise on the two instruments.
He said that the draft comprehensive convention submitted by India was an excellent working basis. The comprehensive convention should provide an added value to existing conventions, while preserving their specificity. In order to guarantee that added value, the relationship between the comprehensive convention and existing sectoral conventions must first be clarified. A main problem had been the issue of the definition of terrorism. The latest initiatives of the Security Council and the High-Level Panel had been encouraging; however, they had not gone far enough. Those efforts must be further consolidated, in order to overcome existing differences and attain a consensus-based definition.
Concerning the draft on nuclear terrorism, he said agreement was within reach. It was time to overcome remaining differences and demonstrate good will, in order to finalize the text without delay. All available means must be used to conclude talks as soon as possible on the draft convention, which had been submitted by the Russian Federation. He encouraged the Chairman, the coordinators and the States concerned to undertake final efforts leading to the consensus adoption of the text during the present session. Adoption of the two conventions by the General Assembly would reaffirm the place occupied by the Ad Hoc Committee and reinforce respect for the primacy of the rule of law.
HAL COLLUMS, Attorney, United States Department of State, Office of the Legal Adviser, said that more than five years had passed since adoption by the General Assembly of the terrorism financing Convention in December 1999. Much had happened in the world since then, but the international community had been unable thus far to reach consensus on additional legal instruments to combat the terrorism scourge. The nuclear terrorism draft had been under discussion since February 1998, and the draft comprehensive convention since September 2000. If the United Nations General Assembly wanted to be a serious player in the international effort to combat terrorism, then the Ad Hoc Committee needed to conclude its work on those two draft conventions and refer consensus texts to the Assembly without further delay.
He said that the time had come for action on both draft conventions this year. As the High-Level Panel’s report had stated, terrorism attacked the values that lay at the heart of the United Nations Charter, namely respect for human rights, the rule of law, rules of war that protected civilians, tolerance, and the peaceful resolution of conflict. It had said that the Assembly should rapidly complete the comprehensive convention on terrorism. Last week, the Secretary-General had stated in his report that that meant consolidating, security and, when possible, eliminating, hazardous materials and implementing effective export controls, and he had urged Member States to complete, without delay, the international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.
During last fall’s General Assembly session, the Russian Federation had re-energized negotiations on that convention, and near-consensus had been reached. Time had run out, however, before a full consensus could be achieved, and the matter had been deferred to this meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee. On 24 February, Presidents Bush and Putin, in their joint statement on nuclear security cooperation, had called for the early adoption of the nuclear terrorism convention. With good faith efforts on all sides, it would be possible to reach full consensus this week on the draft nuclear terrorism convention. Progress could also be achieved on the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, with a view to completing work on that text in the fall.
LAILA TAJ EL DINE (Venezuela) said a number of years had gone by without completing work on a draft convention on international terrorism. In that regard, she called for a frank discussion in order to establish a legal framework that would contain the necessary components to combat terrorism in all its forms. That framework must address the root causes of terrorism, which could only be identified through a multidimensional approach. Terrorism undermined human rights, rubbing out human lives and resulting in widespread destruction of homes and public facilities.
Three fundamental elements were necessary for completing work on a text, including a definition of State terrorism, she said. State terrorism undermined tolerance between peoples and nations and impeded the peaceful conflict resolution. It was necessary to distinguish between the legitimate struggle against foreign occupation and the right of people to self determination. Including those three elements in the draft convention was necessary for meeting the requirements of the majority of people worldwide. The struggle against terrorism began and ended with the promotion of human rights.
Ms. YOON (Republic of Korea) said she was hopeful that the Committee would be able to resolve the outstanding issues before it. Given the real danger of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists, it was imperative that the General Assembly adopt a convention as soon as possible. She hoped to work with other delegations in order to submit an agreed text to the Assembly for final approval without delay. She urged the Committee to make use of the new momentum generated by the reports of the High-Level Panel and the Secretary-General, as well as the Assembly’s upcoming high-level meeting.
MOHAMMED HAJ IBRAHIM (Syria) said his delegation had time and again asserted its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and regardless of its perpetrators. Syria called for cooperation among all States in the framework of international law to adopt necessary measures to eliminate terrorism. The work completed by the Ad Hoc Committee and the Working Group constituted a step forward. The draft comprehensive treaty should fill the gaps left by previous treaties and should specify a clear definition of terrorism which distinguished terrorism from the legitimate struggle of peoples. No exceptions must be taken for military troops in the treaty, unless such actions were legitimate in accordance with the Charter and international law. Regarding the draft on the suppression of nuclear terrorism, he supported the draft made by friends of the Chair.
CARL PEERSMAN (Netherlands), on behalf of the European Union, said he attached great value o the comprehensive legal framework successfully established by the General Assembly in the counter-terrorism field. The 12 United Nations Conventions and Protocols remained fundamental tools in the fight against terrorism, and he was fully committed to their ratification and full implementation. The Union urged all States that had not yet done so to become parties to those instruments, particularly the 1999 Convention on the Repression of the Financing of Terrorism, and to implement them. Since the terrorism threat had grown dramatically on a global scale in the past five years, the Ad Hoc Committee must take action now. A successful conclusion of negotiations on both draft conventions during the present session would become part of a comprehensive United Nations strategy against international terrorism.
He said that the Union saw counter-terrorism as involving the following “5 D’s”: to dissuade people from resorting to terrorism; to deny terrorists access to funds and materials; to deter States from sponsoring terrorism; to develop capabilities to fight terrorism; and to defend human rights while fighting terrorism. With the successful conclusion of the negotiations, the international community would have at its disposal a complete corpus of legislation designed to tackle, in a pragmatic way, the various terrorist offences as defined and prohibited by those instruments. Both the High-Level Panel and the recent report of the Secretary-General, in preparation of the 2005 summit, called on the Ad Hoc Committee to utilize that mandate and take action now.
It was high time to set aside debates on so-called State terrorism, he said. The Union also agreed with the Secretary-General that the use of force by States was already thoroughly regulated under international law. In addition, the true meaning of the right to resist occupation must be understood; that could not include the right to spread terror in a population by deliberately killing or maiming them. The Union endorsed the Secretary-General’s call for a definition of terrorism. In that regard, the High-Level Panel and the Secretary-General had provided useful elements. Concerning the draft convention for the suppression of nuclear terrorism, the Union joined the Group of 8 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States) in its efforts for the successful completion of negotiations on such a convention. Completing the draft convention, based on the text submitted by the Russian Federation, had become ever more urgent, especially in view of the implications of terrorist groups gaining access to mass destruction weapons or so-called “dirty bombs”.
A GOPINATHAN (India) said he attached the highest importance to concluding the two drafts, since terrorism was the common enemy of all peoples, beliefs, faiths, religions and of peace and democracy. It endangered open and democratic societies, and constituted a global threat. There could not be any justification for any act of terrorism. Despite the various measures, it had not been possible to stop the spread of terrorist networks around the world. The Secretary-General recently endorsed the conclusion of a comprehensive anti-terrorism convention based on a clear and agreed definition of terrorism. Along with his 21 March report, the Secretary-General’s statements at the Madrid conference and the summit in Algiers had also been extremely important for the Ad Hoc Committee’s work.
He said that arriving at an agreed definition of terrorism was possible with the full involvement of all Member States. The two pending drafts should be completed without further delay, as that would convey the wrong signal to the international community. He welcomed the recommendations made in that regard by the High-Level Panel, and the categorical recommendation in the Secretary-General’s 21 March report that the General Assembly should rapidly complete the negotiations before its sixtieth session. The perceived differences and difficulties in arriving at a consensus definition should not be used as an excuse to delay or postpone a decision on the comprehensive anti-terrorism convention. On the draft to suppress nuclear terrorism, that appeared to be complete and ready for adoption, and he supported the present text without further amendments.
DMITRY LOBACH (Russian Federation) said that all delegations agreed that the Ad Hoc Committee today bore the special responsibility of developing additional measures to enable the international community to effectively counter the growing terrorist threat. Intensive work had been under way in the Committee for a long time, and he was extremely concerned at the lack of any real progress. The adoption of further measures, such as those contemplated in the nuclear terrorism text, would put a real obstacle in the path of terrorists’ access to nuclear materials. Last fall, the Committee came “as near as possible” to adopting the draft. He was convinced that the concerns about the scope of the convention could be resolved, as that scope went beyond the scope of the sectoral conventions. The consolidated text of article 4 of the draft demonstrated the determination to find a balanced approach.
In order to achieve consensus, he stressed the importance of agreeing on the already proposed wordings, which satisfied an absolute majority of delegations. That was possible without detriment to the position of individual countries, bearing in mind that the question of the spread of anti-terrorism conventions with respect to the activities of States’ armed forces could be settled during work on the draft comprehensive convention. At a time when terrorists were trying to obtain nuclear weapons and other nuclear materials, the adoption of an international convention during the current session would be an important contribution of the United Nations to strengthen the international legal basis for the counter-terrorism struggle. Such a unique convention would, for the first time, focus the international community’s attention on countering the terrorist use of mass destruction weapons. If the Ad Hoc Committee could find solutions in the present session, then there was a real possibility that the General Assembly could adopt the text during its fifty-ninth session, requested in resolution 59/46.
JUANA ELENA RAMOS RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) said her delegation rejected terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, regardless of motivation and intention, including State terrorism. Cuba had never permitted the use of its territory for the planning of terrorist acts. Cuba also rejected using the struggle against terrorism as a pretext for intervention in the affairs of nations. The struggle against terrorism must be taken through collective efforts and in full respect of the Charter, international law and human rights. She rejected practices adopted by some States of penalizing countries that they believed supported terrorism. It was crucial to adopt an international convention on international terrorism that would meet the existing deficiencies of previously adopted instruments. A comprehensive convention must contain a clear definition of the crime of terrorism, including the provision of material for terrorist acts. The acts committed by the armed forces of a country should not be excluded from the convention’s scope. It was also necessary to distinguish between terrorism and the legitimate struggle of peoples against foreign occupation and the right to self determination.
She said Cuba also supported all efforts to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists. The only way to do that was to ban the use and manufacture of such weapons. She hoped the Committee would be able to complete its work on the convention on international terrorism, as well as the draft on the suppression of nuclear terrorism. In that regard, Cuba had submitted a proposal to be included in both conventions. The text was a new alternative and would allow for the reconciliation of points of view expressed previously in the Committee.
RI SONG HYON (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the elimination of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations was important for the maintenance o peace and security. Acts of State terrorism were now being overtly perpetrated. Acts of terrorism constituted a major threat to international peace and stability and State sovereignty. The prevalence of terrorism was attributed to, among other things, inhumane foreign policy, exploitation and social inequality. The elimination of the root causes of terrorism necessitated the establishment of international relations based on sovereign equality, multilateralism and justice and the promotion of sustainable development. The consolidation of the United Nations central role in coping with the international terrorism was of utmost importance.
The Proliferation Security Initiative should be thoroughly rejected, as it represented an act of unilateralism aimed at excluding the United Nations, he said. It was also in contravention of the recognized principles of international law and was in violation of the United Nations Charter and norms of international law. The issue of terrorism must be resolved in conformity with the United Nations Charter. Mistrust and confrontation between nations should be removed, and the principles and ideals of the Charter adhered to. His country rejected terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including assisting and instigating terrorism.
FUMIHIRO KAWAKAMI (Japan) said international terrorism was a serious threat to international peace and security. Terrorism, no matter what its motive or its form, could not be justified. To prevent and eradicate international terrorism, it was necessary to strengthen the international legal framework against terrorists according to the principle of adjudicating or extraditing offenders to other countries for adjudication. Combating terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaida would mean that States would have to strengthen their counter-terrorism measures and deny terrorists a safe haven.
He said Japan supported the early conclusion of the two draft conventions. All States must show the utmost flexibility in that regard. Concerning the draft International Convention on the Suppression of Nuclear Terrorism, while there were still divergent views, consensus should be reached with the common objective of adopting the convention. Japan appreciated the Bureau’s work in its previous session to prepare a comprehensive text, which was a reproduction of the draft prepared by the Friends of the Chairman of the Sixth Committee’s Working Group in 1998, with the addition of the Mexican proposal. The text could serve as a good basis for discussion. It was essential that all Member States implement the existing counter-terrorism conventions.
TULL TRAISORAT (Thailand) unequivocally condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations -- it was “reprehensible and criminal” and unjustifiable by any motivation or objective. In parallel with strengthening existing legal measures, the root causes of terrorism must also be addressed by examining such factors as human rights abuse, intolerance, and cultural and religious discrimination and misperceptions. Also in combating terrorism, human rights protections must be upheld. The newest developments -- Security Council resolution 1566 (2004), the report of the High-Level Panel and the Secretary-General’s 21 March report -- had stressed the interconnectedness of the different threats and had set forth a comprehensive strategy. Those developments underlined the importance of the Ad Hoc Committee’s work. Indeed, the Committee had played a pivotal role in drafting international treaties to combat terrorism, and it had already concluded two important conventions in that regard.
Nevertheless, he said that the Committee must conclude its work on the two pending drafts as soon as possible, otherwise an impasse on the negotiations might send the wrong signal to the international community. In that light, he encouraged all interested delegations to conduct dialogues with each other in a spirit of compromise to conclude the draft on nuclear terrorism. The outstanding issues should be handled separately from those of the draft comprehensive convention. Regarding the latter, he encouraged all interested parties to work constructively to resolve the pending issues, with a view to reaching consensus on a definition of terrorism.
SABRI CHAABANI (Tunisia) said he regretted that, despite the combination of international efforts in recent years to eradicate international terrorism, the extent of that evil had constantly grown throughout the world. That fact had strengthened Tunisia’s conviction that effectively countering the terrorism threat depended mainly on a unifying international approach, which took into account the various efforts and divergent views while not limiting the international community’s ability to counter that evil. The approach should also deal with the causes, by curbing the phenomena of poverty, exclusion and marginalization. His country had suggested, as an interim measure, the convening of an international conference under United Nations auspices to formulate an international code of conduct for the prevention of terrorism, which would constitute both a political and moral commitment, for States that wished voluntarily and freely to adhere to the code, on a number of internationally accepted elements and principles.
He said he remained convinced that improved international cooperation in more effectively preventing international terrorism had depended, not only on unification of approach, but also on the unification of solutions so as to make the responses of all States uniform towards the same threats. The aim was to establish an effective system for the prevention and suppression of terrorism, which included preventing States from becoming shelters to terrorist groups and networks. He was pleased that several United Nations bodies were involved in the anti-terrorist struggle. In the face of that evil, those bodies -- particularly the General Assembly and the Security Council -- should act in a complementary way so as to avoid duplication of efforts. He had been satisfied at the continuing efforts of the Council, particularly to revitalize the Counter-Terrorism Committee, and the recent trend towards improving coordination between that Committee and regional and subregional organizations.
Reviewing Tunisia’s responses to the terrorist threat, he said his country had consolidated its legal arsenal, particularly through adoption of a law establishing appropriate mechanisms and structures to ensure control and repression of financing for terrorism, as well as support for international efforts in that regard. The law was in complete harmony with agreed international human rights principles. He was pleased at the promising prospects of concluding the draft convention on the suppression of nuclear terrorism, but international law still suffered from gaps. Those offered “margins of manoeuvrability” to terrorists and, thus, should be urgently filled. Concluding a comprehensive anti-terrorism convention would consolidate the international community’s efforts. Hopefully, States would employ the necessary political will and cooperation, leading to an agreed convention that supplemented existing legal instruments and took into account all concerns, he said.
GUAN JIAN (China) said that terrorism was a common enemy of the whole world. Presently, international terrorism activities were on the rise and still very severe. His Government had always condemned all forms of terrorism and opposed its use as a means for achieving any political objectives. At the same time, combating terrorism required adherence to the purpose and principles of the United Nations Charter and other established international norms. He cautioned against the adoption of double standards, and stressed that defeating terrorism required dealing simultaneously with the symptoms and root causes. He supported the leading role played by the United Nations in the anti-terrorism struggle, and he also had attached great importance to the relevant aspects of the High-Level Panel’s and the Secretary-General’s reports.
He said that effectively curbing international terrorism required the cooperation of the entire world. His Government supported the elaboration of international conventions for that purpose, and stood ready to join such international efforts to complete the international legal anti-terrorism framework. China had already acceded to 10 of the 12 relevant Conventions, and it was in the process of domestic preparations for ratifying the convention on the financing of terrorism, which it hoped to do by the end of the year. His country attached great importance to the conclusion of the two drafts in the Committee, and hoped that the outstanding problems could be solved as soon as possible.
DANIEL FRANK (Switzerland) said the task to elaborate a convention had been a challenge since the Committee’s beginning. The Committee had the responsibility of finding an effective legal answer in the fight against one of the biggest threats to the well-being of the world’s people. Since the last meeting, two important reports had been published, including the Secretary-General’s report entitled, “In Larger Freedom”. Both reports asked that the Committee agree on a definition of the terrorist act as any action that was intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act. Switzerland endorsed the findings of the reports in that matter.
The proposed definition did not single out a specific group of perpetrators, he said. It defined terrorism by the nature of the act itself and drew largely on wording already agreed upon in other conventions. The report stressed that even in times of war the civilian population could not be the lawful objective of an attack by State or non-State actors. From that logic, it followed that, in times of peace, violent acts against civilians were even more objectionable. The proposed definition thus confirmed that attacks against civilians or non-combatants were prohibited by international law and could not be justified whatever the cause for their action. Switzerland welcomed that important clarification.
Such a definition would truly create a comprehensive international legal framework in the global fight against terrorism, he continued. A comprehensive convention based on such a definition would serve the international community as the linchpin of international cooperation and law enforcement in that respect, while its current wording would not compromise respect for international law, human rights law and refugee law, as well as international humanitarian law.
The time had come to endorse articles 2, 2bis 18 and 18 as proposed by the coordinator and to adopt the comprehensive convention by consensus, he stated. The Secretary-General had urged the Committee to complete work without delay. Political differences should no longer take precedence over the convention’s key objective, namely, the prevention and suppression of the terrible threat posed by nuclear terrorism. It was in the interest of all to find a rapid solution, and Switzerland would welcome a convention on the suppression of nuclear terrorism this week. The adoption of a comprehensive convention on terrorism, as well as on the suppression of nuclear terrorism, would reinforce and revitalize the prerogatives of the General Assembly as the legislative body of the United Nations and help to avoid overlap between the Assembly and other United Nations organs in the fight against terrorism.
SHAIR BAHADUR KHAN (Pakistan) said his country was not only a front-line State in the fight against terrorism, but had also been a victim of terrorism. Pakistan had taken measures to strengthen its domestic legal framework. Its law enforcement officials were in the forefront of the fight against terrorism. Pakistan had also signed numerous terrorism-related conventions and was keen to provide focus to the efforts against terrorism. It was imperative that the Committee reach consensus on a definition, which distinguished between acts of terrorism and struggle of peoples for self-determination. The fight against terrorism should not undermine the right of people to self-determination, but should conform to the principles of international law and human rights.
He said his country supported the need for convening a high level conference to formulate a joint international response to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Terrorism had no faith and, as such, should not be linked to any particular religion. Greater efforts should be made to foster understanding between cultures. He also noted progress regarding the draft convention on the suppression of nuclear terrorism. His delegation had proposed two paragraphs in the draft convention, but had withdrawn the proposals in a spirit of compromise. Pakistan was willing to work with other delegations to reach consensus on remaining issues.
OKON EFIONG ISONG (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said terrorism remained one of the fundamental threats to national, regional and international peace and security. Terrorism posed a grave danger to the territorial integrity and political unity of sovereign States. Terrorism was a global threat with global effects, and no part of the world was immune from the scourge of terrorism. The African Group was committed to all measures to stamp out the menace of terrorism.
African countries had been adversely affected by terrorism, including the 1998 terrorist attacks on the United States embassies in the United Republic of Tanzania and Kenya in which many Africans had been lost, he said. Many Africans had also lost their lives on 11 September 2001. The Group condemned terrorism in all its forms as a crime against humanity. The act of terrorism was antithetical to the basic norms of society. It was evil and could never be justified. The events of 11 September 2001, as well as the recent attack on a school in Beslan, Russian Federation, reconfirmed the fact that terrorism was no respecter of national frontiers. The Group also condemned the August 2003 terrorist attacks on the United Nations headquarters in Iraq.
He welcomed the recent report of the Secretary-General entitled, “In Larger Freedom”. The Group supported the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and welcomed Security Council resolution 1373 of 2001 and other similar resolutions aimed at eliminating international terrorism. The measures taken together had been yielding good results. The Group fully appreciated the various workshops and courses on combating crimes related to international terrorism organized by the United Nations. He cautioned, however, against putting price tags on training packages made available at such workshops. While there could be no justification for terrorist acts, the world had the responsibility of finding out the root causes of terrorism. In spite of the realization that terrorism was an evil to be defeated, the international community had not been able to finalize the draft conventions. The lack of progress on such crucial issue had the potential of sending wrong signals and emboldening the perpetrators of terrorist acts.
MAHMOUD SAMY (Egypt) noted that the statement made by Nigeria’s representative was not on behalf of the African Union, as it had been decided at a recent meeting that an African Union statement would not be made in the meeting.
Mr. TYGE-LEHMANN (Denmark) said that lawyers could be divided into two groups -- those who saw solutions in all problems, and those who saw problems in all solution. He hoped the lawyers in this room belonged to the first group. He echoed the appeal from all sides this morning to complete the historic norm-setting work of the Sixth Committee (Legal). In so doing, delegations would live up to the Committee’s best traditions and send a strong signal to the world that the relevant United Nations organs -- the General Assembly and the Security Council -- could indeed work in tandem to meet the global challenge posed by international terrorism. Delegations owed it to the victims of terrorism to act now.
MOSTAFA DOLATYAR (Iran) said that, while he welcomed any proposal to build consensus and facilitate the Committee’s work, the new proposal contained in the fourth working paper (document A/ARMED CONFLICT.252/2005/WP.4) should be balanced to avoid the possibility of subjective interpretation or misunderstanding or misperception. Accordingly, he submitted the following amendment to that proposal: “and recognizes also that all the States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technologic information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy”.
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