|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-first General Assembly
23rd Meeting (AM)
CONDEMNING TERRORISM AS UNJUSTIFIABLE, LEGAL COMMITTEE CONCLUDES MAIN SESSION,
SETS DATES IN FEBRUARY 2007 FOR FURTHER WORK ON ANTI-TERRORISM CONVENTION
Also By Text, Adopted without a Vote, Committee Asks States to Strengthen
International Anti-Terror Cooperation; Approves 2007 Provisional Work Programme
Acting without a vote, the Sixth Committee (Legal) today called on the General Assembly to strongly condemn all acts of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, and decided that the Ad Hoc Committee established by the Assembly in 1996 to draft a comprehensive convention on international terrorism would reconvene in February 2007 to expedite elaboration of the treaty’s draft text.
Concluding its work for the main part of the current session, the Committee also approved a draft decision on its provisional work programme for the Assembly’s sixty-second session in 2007. It agreed that regional groups should consult on the composition of the officers for that session.
By the draft resolution on “Measures to eliminate international terrorism”, the Assembly, deeply disturbed by the persistence of terrorist acts worldwide, would reiterate its call upon all States to adopt further measures to strengthen international cooperation in combating terrorism and to remind them of their obligations to ensure that perpetrators were brought to justice.
Under other provisions of the text, the Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism was asked to report to the Assembly at its current session in the event of the completion of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism. Otherwise, it would convene on 5, 6 and 15 February 2007. The Ad Hoc Committee would also continue to discuss the question of convening of a high-level conference on international terrorism, under United Nations auspices.
Mahnoush Arsanjani, Secretary to the Sixth Committee and Deputy Director of the Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs, speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, said that approval of the Ad Hoc Committee’s session would not give rise to financial implications.
As background, finalizing the text of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism has proved difficult and elusive. Among the substantive differences is the question of which activities ought to be excluded from the scope of application of the draft convention, in particular, the activities covered by international humanitarian law or other fields of international law.
The various exclusionary elements are addressed in draft article 18. However, since the year 2000, divergent views have persisted among delegations on the formulation of specific exclusions, particularly those relating to activities of armed forces during armed conflicts and those concerning activities of military forces in peacetime.
Since its establishment in 1996 under General Assembly resolution 51/210, the Ad Hoc Committee has negotiated several texts resulting in the adoption by the Assembly of three treaties; the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings; the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
In closing remarks, Committee Chairman Juan Manuel Gomez Robledo of Mexico said the support and cooperation of the members had greatly facilitated the Committee’s functions. Their deliberations were conducted in a constructive atmosphere, reflecting the spirit of cooperation and understanding, which had traditionally characterized the Committee’s work, he said.
The Sixth Committee will resume its session in March, 2007 to consider the legal aspects of the report of the Redesign Panel on the United Nations system of administration of justice.
Highlights of Draft Resolution on International Terrorism
By the draft resolution on “Measures to eliminate international terrorism” (document A/C.6/61/L.17), the Assembly would also call on States and appropriate international organizations to implement the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy of 8 September 2006, without delay. The Terrorism Prevention Branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna would be asked to continue its efforts to enhance the capabilities of the United Nations in the prevention of terrorism and to assist States to become parties to, and implement the relevant international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.
By other terms of the text, the Assembly would reiterate its call upon States to refrain from financing, encouraging, providing training for supporting terrorist activities, and to ensure that perpetrators of terrorist acts were brought to justice.
The Assembly would reaffirm that international cooperation, as well as actions by States to combat terrorism, should be conducted in accordance with Charter principles, international law and relevant international conventions.
Action on Text
In explanations of position before action on the draft, some delegations expressed concern about “taking note” in a preambular paragraph of some organizations listed in relation to initiatives to combat terrorism. Speakers said that the list should have been published earlier, so that the organizations could be studied.
Many, including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Algeria, objected to the inclusion of at least one known military group on the list. Iran’s representative said the paragraph containing the list was not helpful. While he would not block consensus on a resolution to fight terrorism, he would dissociate his delegation from the paragraph.
Syria’s delegate said the paragraph had been intended to include intergovernmental organizations only, but now all kinds of groups had been listed. However, “taking note” did not mean “endorsement”, and having a group listed in the paragraph did not give it legitimacy. He also said that the publication “International Instruments on Terrorism”, referred to in the text, should be printed in all official languages.
Similarly, Cuba’s delegate recalled that, during negotiations, the decision had been made to list only international organizations. Late additions to the list should not set a precedent, but listing an organization did not mean it was recognized as fighting terrorism.
Adding his voice to those who would have liked to see the list earlier, Egypt’s representative called for a clarification of criteria by next year for such listing, adding that, while the listed organization could be political or even economic, it should not be military.
Pakistan’s representative said the work on the paragraph had been difficult and suggested that some groups could not be listed without breaking consensus.
The Committee went on to approve the draft resolution, without a vote.
Speaking after its approval, Tunisia’s representative referred to a League of Arab States voluntary code of ethics on combating international terrorism, an initiative backed by the African Union, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. He would mention the code in the future.
Action on Committee’s 2007 work programme
Also without a vote, the Committee approved the draft decision on its provisional programme of work for the Assembly’s sixty-second session (document A/C.6/61/L.19) entitled “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly”.
According to the text, the Committee, starting on 8 October, would consider 13 agenda items, including a report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL); measures to eliminate international terrorism, and diplomatic protection.
Other topics include the rule of law at the national and international levels; report of the International Law Commission, and administration of justice at the United Nations. The Committee is scheduled to conclude its work on 16 November 2007.
In explanation of position after the approval of the draft decision, Syria’s speaker pointed out that, while there was the possibility of adjusting the work programme in the light of what might occur at the resumed session in March 2007, the adoption of the work programme should be at the beginning of the new session for maximum openness. Also, the Committee worked on the basis of consensus and transparency, but some delegations were presenting draft resolutions in their national capacities without addressing the concerns of others. He, therefore, called for drafts to be coordinated through the Chair.
The Chairman said the draft decision just adopted had been available since 10 November. It was a provisional draft work programme. The next bureau, to be elected in June, would hold consultations on it. There had been no exceptions to the consensus nature of the Committee’s work methods. It was a prerogative of every delegation to submit drafts for consideration.
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