GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES TWO-DAY DEBATE BY RENEWING COMMITMENT TO STRENGTHEN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN PREVENTING, COMBATING TERRORISM
GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES TWO-DAY DEBATE BY RENEWING COMMITMENT TO STRENGTHEN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN PREVENTING, COMBATING TERRORISM
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-second General Assembly
119th & 120th Meetings (AM & PM)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES TWO-DAY DEBATE BY RENEWING COMMITMENT TO STRENGTHEN
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN PREVENTING, COMBATING TERRORISM
Consensus Resolution Calls for Implementation of Global Counter-Terror Strategy
Following a two-day debate, the General Assembly today renewed its unwavering commitment to strengthen international cooperation to prevent and combat terrorism, and, recalling its pivotal role in following up on implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, called on Member States and the Organization to accelerate their efforts to implement it in all its aspects.
Adopted on 8 September 2006, the Strategy united, for the first time, all 192 United Nations Member States behind a common strategic framework. They agreed to take a concrete set of measures to address terrorism in all its aspects, and, by that action, to convey the same critical message: terrorism is never justifiable, whether on political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other grounds.
In the Strategy, Member States also committed themselves to review its implementation in two years’ time. The just-concluded Meeting was the first major assessment of their efforts to implement the Strategy’s four pillars: to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; to prevent and combat terrorism; to build State capacity to prevent and combat terrorism, and to strengthen the role of the United Nations in that regard; and to ensure respect for the human rights of all as well as the rule of law as the fundamental basis for the fight against terrorism.
By today’s consensus resolution, adopted as orally amended, Member States reaffirmed the Global Strategy and its four pillars, as well as their own primary responsibility to implement it. By other terms, the Assembly called on States that had not yet done so to consider becoming parties to existing international anti-terrorism instruments, and to make every effort to conclude a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. It took note of the measures adopted by Member States and by international, regional and subregional organizations, within the framework of the Global Strategy, all of which strengthened international cooperation to fight terrorism.
At the same time, the Assembly reaffirmed the need to enhance international cooperation in countering terrorism, recalling in that regard the role of the United Nations system in promoting international cooperation and capacity-building as one of the Strategy’s elements.
The Assembly decided, by other terms, to interact with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force on a regular basis. (The Task Force was established by the Secretary-General in July 2005 to ensure overall coordination and coherence in the counter-terrorism efforts of the United Nations system). It asked the Secretary-General to report to the next Assembly session on progress towards implementation of the Strategy. His report could contain suggestions for future implementation by the United Nations system and for implementation of the present text.
Like yesterday, speakers today affirmed the central role that the United Nations, in particular the General Assembly, as the only body with universal representation, had to play in the coordination of international cooperation to combat terrorism, and voiced support for institutionalizing the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, stipulating that it should have more interaction with the Assembly in order to profit from Member States’ guidance.
Echoing other speakers’ sentiments, the representative of Slovenia said that full respect for values such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law constituted the most effective tool in countering terrorism in the long run. Ukraine’s representative added that, beyond the immediate aspect of combating terrorism, every country should also try to resolve its root causes. Extreme poverty, unjust social systems, corruption, the violation of human rights and discrimination could easily be cited among those, as could regional conflicts.
Speakers also stressed that terrorism could not be linked to any specific religion, culture or ethnic groups, and that there must be a clear distinction between terrorist acts and the legitimate struggle for the right to self-determination. They called on Member States to urgently conclude negotiations on the comprehensive convention on terrorism, and to arrive at a definition of terrorism.
Delegates also underscored the importance of helping developing countries build capacity. The representative of the Maldives underlined the need for such assistance by saying that some of today’s terrorist organizations and transnational crime syndicates had far greater resources at their disposal than did some small sovereign Member States of the United Nations. Regional and subregional cooperation was stressed in that regard.
The representatives of Iran and Afghanistan drew attention to the important role of drug trafficking as a major source of finance for some terrorist groups in their region. Iran had lost some 4,000 law-enforcement personnel in the fight against drug traffickers, and urged the international community to pay more attention to that issue.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Italy, India, Russian Federation, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Austria, Brazil, Senegal, Slovakia, Republic of Korea, Nigeria, Argentina, Nicaragua, Palau, South Africa, Libya, Malaysia, Syria, Kenya, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Albania, United Republic of Tanzania, Panama, El Salvador and Lebanon.
The General Assembly will meet again at a date and time to be announced.
The General Assembly today continued its consideration of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. (For more background information, see Press Release GA/10735 of 4 September.)
GIULIO TERZI ( Italy) said that, in order to defeat the scourge of terrorism, which had taken a deadly toll in Italy in the 1970s, his country had learned the importance of three things: a multidisciplinary approach; specific legislative measures consistent with the rule of law and respect for human rights; and close international cooperation. Those principles coincided with the core of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The unstable nature of terrorism implied that States and international organizations must constantly adapt their policies and actions. Only results-oriented policies could successfully implement the Strategy. As a first step, Italy supported the institutionalization of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF).
Describing domestic measures, he said his country had significantly intensified its investigative and prevention operations in various areas, including financial activities connected with terrorism. Information technology was both a tool to confront terrorism and an instrument that benefited terrorists, and Italy was therefore updating and implementing its structures and strategies. Given the paramount importance of international cooperation, Italy participated, in partnership with European Union and United Nations Member States, in joint investigations, intelligence exchanges and judicial surrender. Priority should also be given to assisting the victims of terrorism.
NIRUPAM SEN ( India) said the institutionalization of the Task Force should strengthen significantly the capability of United Nations entities effectively to cooperate, coordinate and streamline the work of countering terrorism. The proposed “integrated implementation initiative” to help the Organization “deliver as one”, without duplication, was welcome.
He said his country was a party to the 13 major United Nations instruments relating to specific terrorist activities and attached the utmost importance to fulfilling its obligations under the relevant United Nations resolutions. India had in place an extensive legal framework for tackling terrorism, including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which incorporated provisions dealing with all aspects of terrorism, including incitement. A legal, regulatory and administrative framework for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism was also in place, as were regulatory controls to govern weapons of mass destruction and strategic arms exports.
India was a party to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which provided for the extradition of persons accused of terrorist activities within member countries, he said. It also participated in other regional groups relating to legal assistance and other forms of cooperation in counter-terrorism efforts. Regarding capacity-building, an essential element in combating terrorism, India was interested in sharing information and providing assistance, bilaterally or multilaterally, especially to countries that were not themselves directly threatened by terrorism but whose participation was vital to the success of the larger international effort.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said his country was in the forefront in the fight against terrorism, in which the United Nations had a central role to play in organizing and coordinating international cooperation. That role had been clearest in the adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which remained one of the major anti-terrorist documents. It was important not to undermine the Strategy’s importance through excessively high expectations, as it had only been adopted two years ago. The draft resolution before the Assembly fully reflected the cautious approach. Moving forward to strengthen the fight against terrorism could only be done together; double standards and national political motivations only weakened it. The Russian Federation supported regular briefings to the Assembly by the Task Force. Its institutionalization, within existing resources, would step up implementation of the Strategy.
Turning to domestic measures, he said the Anti-Terrorist Committee was his country’s leading body in that field. It brought together leaders from the involved ministries and from Parliament. It had adopted a document on additional measures to counteract terrorism and formulated Russia’s objective of speeding up adherence to European anti-terrorism instruments. It also aimed to counteract cyber-terrorism and promote inter-civilization and inter-religious dialogue. Russian law-enforcement agencies and civil society institutions had fully accepted the Strategy. Another document, aimed at practical implementation of the Strategy over the next few years, contained measures to stop the spread of violent and extremist ideologies through the Internet. Russia’s most important achievement in the fight against terrorism had been the reduction of terrorist dangers on Russian territory. The Russian Federation had been providing its foreign partners with the lessons it had learned.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said her country had made unprecedented progress in recent years on the anti-terrorism front. Colombia had cooperated with regional bodies and the United Nations. It rejected such terrorist acts as kidnapping. Recent military and police successes bore witness to the country’s increased ability to fight terrorist crimes. In 2007, for example, Colombia had recorded the lowest number of homicides in 20 years and the trend continued in 2008, a year in which there had been no attacks on towns and in which kidnappings had fallen by more than 80 per cent.
She said her country engaged in information exchanges with others across the world, noting that such measures were part of the Government’s policy to strengthen the rule of law and protect human rights. A national action plan on human rights was in place under the Ministry of National Defence. The recent securing of the release of Ingrid Betancourt and others held by the FARC (Revolutionary Colombian Armed Forces) group reflected the effectiveness of the comprehensive national policy. Internal safeguards on law-enforcement entities such as the police were also in place. All Member States, as well as the United Nations system, should implement the Strategy by instituting controls on financial networks, improving border controls and suppressing money laundering to ensure terrorist elements enjoyed neither shelter nor support. Information exchange was vital, as was adherence to a comprehensive international strategy and the strengthening of legal frameworks.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan), describing the adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy as a historic event, said it was playing a crucial role in strengthening the legal foundation of the anti-terrorism coalition. Its strength was in identifying coordinated measures in counteracting terrorism at both the national and international levels. Kazakhstan called for a more active and fruitful Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) that would be transparent to Member States. In order effectively to fulfil its mandate, it must be integrated into the United Nations Secretariat, and the expansion of its capabilities should be considered a top priority.
She said her country had succeeded in preventing the spread of terrorism by taking action to neutralize the activities of international terrorist organizations under the control of Al-Qaeda, such as “Zhamaat Modzhahedov of Central Asia”, the “Islamic Party of Turkistan”, and the extremist religious party “Hisb-ut-Tahrir”, which was prohibited in Kazakhstan. Among the practical counter-terrorism actions that Kazakhstan was taking to trace persons and organizations associated with terrorist activity was the creation of the Anti-Terrorist Interagency Centre, involving some 11 law-enforcement agencies. That Centre resolved terrorism-prevention questions in the framework of cooperation with international and regional organizations, including the United Nations, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and others.
GERHARD PFANZELTER ( Austria) expressed the hope that the process of institutionalizing the Task Force and endowing it with the necessary funding from the regular United Nations budget would soon be completed. It was essential to ensure that the Strategy was implemented globally and in a holistic and integrated manner.
He said that his country, together with the Task Force and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), had organized the Vienna Terrorism Symposium in May 2007. Austria had pledged a contribution of more than $100,000 to support the efforts of the Task Force’s working group on integrated implementation, and was one of the largest voluntary contributors to the Terrorism Prevention Branch of UNODC in support of technical assistance. In July, Austria had sponsored a legal workshop for small-island developing States on countering maritime terrorism.
As a member of the Human Security Network, he said, Austria attached great importance to the nexus between security, development, the rule of law and human rights in order to help prevent the radicalization and extremism that led to terrorism. The country also had a long-standing tradition of promoting dialogue between cultures and religions and had been active in organizing conferences, workshops and projects aimed at preventing political and social radicalization on all sides. Austria had provided information on its anti-terrorism programmes and projects to the Task Force working group on addressing radicalization and extremism.
PIRAGIBE DOS SANTOS TARRAGO ( Brazil) welcomed the draft resolution as a positive step in implementing the Strategy, and the decision to institutionalize the Task Force as a means to enhance coordination and coherence between the various United Nations anti-terrorism entities, and to deepen interaction between the Assembly and the Task Force. The repudiation of terrorism was a guiding principle of Brazilian international relations, and its refugee legislation also addressed acts of terrorism. The financing of terrorism was addressed in the country’s anti-money laundering law.
Noting that his country was a founding member of the Financial Action Task Force of South America, and had chaired that body since June, he said Brazil was a party to all international conventions and protocols against terrorism and was in the process of ratifying the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. It was also a party to the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism and participated actively in the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism. A recent institutional restructuring of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency had resulted in the strengthening of its counter-terrorism activities.
PAUL BADJI (Senegal) said the current review was taking place for the purpose of examining implementation of the Strategy and correcting or revitalizing areas in need. Considerable progress had been made in spreading tolerance and dialogue among nations since the Strategy’s adoption. It had been found that promoting cooperation among States was the most effective way to curtail extremism. Also recognized by now was the fact that keeping alive the ideas of peace, dialogue and tolerance was the only way to insure that the world’s children today would be safe from terrorism tomorrow. But in addition to those findings, it was now accepted that the root causes of radicalization, such as extreme poverty and marginalization, must be eradicated.
Since no State could handle the challenges alone, it was important to institutionalize the Task Force, he said. There was also a need to strengthen both national and regional mechanisms in line with the principle that implementation was primarily the responsibility of States. Senegal had strengthened its own mechanisms to control terrorist actions in numerous ways. A national entity for financial control had been created in 2004 and the Penal Code had been amended to introduce a definition of financing of terrorism. Legislation had also been instituted to punish financial crimes, including those committed over the Internet. Nevertheless, the fight against terrorism at every level must never lose sight of the need to succeed without diminishing human rights.
PETER BURIAN ( Slovakia) said only a comprehensive approach to all aspects of fighting terrorism could provide adequate and efficient protection. Slovakia therefore called on all Member States to finalize the text of the comprehensive convention on international terrorism during the next Assembly session. Only concerted action by all actors at all levels -– national, international, regional and subregional -- and including civil society could bring about tangible results in the Strategy’s implementation. Slovakia had focused its domestic efforts on reinforcing State capacities to fight and prevent terrorism while fulfilling the provisions of the relevant Security Council resolutions. The country had adopted all international legal instruments and was ready to share its experience with other Member States.
He said that, on the international level, his country had participated as a co-sponsor in the International Process on Global Counter-Terrorism Cooperation. Slovakia had focused its attention on the issues of cooperation between the United Nations and functional intergovernmental bodies as well as the role of civil society in fighting terrorism. The fight against terrorism could only be addressed efficiently through regional cooperation, and the involvement of regional organizations in the Strategy’s implementation was crucial. Civil society and non-governmental organizations must also play an important role and make a useful contribution in promoting the Strategy’s implementation. Ways must be found to engage civil society in the process of furthering the implementation process.
SHIN BOO-NAM (Republic of Korea) said the Strategy was a solid basis for the harmonization of counter-terrorism measures and the exchange of best practices among Member States. While there was no possible justification for terrorism, the underlying conditions for its existence must be addressed in the search for sustainable solutions to the problem.
He said his country had promoted inter-religious and intercultural tolerance, actively participating in intercultural dialogues such as the Asia Cooperation Dialogue, the Alliance of Civilizations and the Asia-Europe Meeting. In light of the link between development and the fight against terrorism, the Republic of Korea supported global efforts to reduce poverty, control disease and promote sustainable development. Further, because terrorists exploited instability to incite hatred and instigate terrorist acts, the country participated in the resolution of conflicts.
The Republic of Korea had taken part in 14 peacekeeping operations to date and was a firm supporter of peacebuilding initiatives, he said, stressing the importance of ensuring prevention before attacks were committed. International legal norms were instrumental in achieving that goal, including in relation to cyber-security. The Task Force should be institutionalized to improve overall coordination and coherence in counter-terrorism activities and in providing capacity-building assistance. Finally, it must be kept in mind that effective counter-terrorism efforts and the protection of human rights were not contradictory, but mutually reinforcing.
BUKUN-OLU ONEMOLA ( Nigeria) said his country had taken measures to implement the Strategy’s four pillars through, among other things, its support for strengthening United Nations capacities in peacekeeping and peacebuilding. As Nigeria was a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, the promotion of tolerance, including religious tolerance, was one of the fundamental objectives and principles of State policy, and was enshrined in the Constitution. Incitement to commit offences related to terrorism was against the law. Nigeria had ratified nine of the universal instruments against terrorism, and a terrorism prevention bill was now before the National Assembly. It focused on issues contained in Council resolution 1373 (2001) regarding the freezing of funds and assets of terrorists.
He said his country supported institutionalization of the Task Force, which should be provided with assured and predictable resources. A mechanism should be developed to enable Member States to provide guidance for the work of the Task Force, thus ensuring that Member States took ownership of United Nations counter-terrorism activities. There was an institutional gap in the global response to terrorism, as there was no forum in which dialogue could take place among countries from different regions on a wide range of counter-terrorism issues beyond the narrow security and law-enforcement arena. Cross-regional dialogue should therefore complement the efforts of the Task Force. It was also imperative that the United Nations ensure that its counter-terrorism institutions were in compliance with basic standards of human rights. In that regard, short-term staff exchanges between the Organization’s human rights and counter-terrorism arms should be introduced.
ANDREJ SLAPNICAR ( Slovenia) said that full respect for values such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law constituted the most effective tool in countering terrorism in the long run. Enhanced security should not affect the generally accepted standards for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Strategy’s implementation was a long-term process that should be reviewed regularly, and there were no quick-fix solutions to counter the scourge of terrorism. Grateful for the support that the Task Force provided to Member States, Slovenia called upon the Secretary-General to finalize its institutionalization.
Turning to national activities, he said his country was a party to the 16 relevant United Nations conventions and protocols and had criminalized acts of nuclear terrorism in order to ratify the Convention on the suppression of such acts. Slovenia had also legislated measures against incitement to acts of terrorism as well as the recruitment to and training for terrorism, which were now criminal acts. The role of intercultural dialogue was aimed at diminishing the prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination that might arise from the spread of terrorism and radicalization. The inauguration of the Euro-Mediterranean University in Piran, Slovenia -- endorsed by all the country’s Euro-Mediterranean partners -– could contribute to the building of understanding among peoples and encourage cooperation in higher education.
JORGE ARGUELLO ( Argentina) said progress had been made in the battle against terrorism but the horrors continued, including in the forms of national occupations of others and in struggles over power and natural resources. Indeed, the militarization of the struggle against terrorism had increased the incidence of terrorist acts, and those responsible for that escalation must be brought to justice. It was important to amend and strengthen legal systems so they could fulfil the tasks required of them. Judges and legal professionals must be appropriately trained and equipped, and legislation must be formulated to include measures specific to the nature of terrorist acts, for example, by providing for extradition agreements.
Calling for closer links between the Task Force and the relevant Security Council mechanisms, he said his country had ratified 11 of the 12 United Nations instruments related to terrorism. Furthermore, Argentina called on the Council to devote all efforts to resolving the situation in the Middle East, which was a major source of international terrorism. The Assembly, in turn, must adopt the comprehensive convention. There were enough safeguards in national and international legislative instruments to ensure that such an instrument could not be abused. Finally, it must be made clear that no form of refuge or assistance must be provided to terrorists.
MARIO CASTELLON DUARTE ( Nicaragua) said the Strategy contained specific measures for combating terrorism in a coordinated fashion at the international, regional and national levels while supporting respect for human rights and the rule of law. The Strategy’s implementation should be a priority for all States. Terrorist acts -- the clearest violation of international law, international humanitarian law and human rights law -- could not be justified in any way. It had a direct impact on the exercise of human rights, attacking democracy, the rule of law and the principles of the United Nations.
Emphasizing that terrorism could not be linked to any specific religion, culture or ethnic groups, he said its root causes -- such as poverty, racism, unresolved conflict and double standards in the application of international law -- should be addressed. There must also be a clear distinction between terrorist acts and the legitimate struggle for the right of self-determination. Nicaragua called for the conclusion of a comprehensive convention, for which a high-level event might be appropriate in order to come to a definition of terrorism. Nicaragua was a party to 11 international conventions and 2 in the inter-American system.
YURI ONISCHENKO ( Ukraine) said that, beyond the immediate aspect of combating terrorism, every country should also try to resolve its root causes. Extreme poverty, unjust social systems, corruption, the violation of human rights and discrimination could easily be cited among those, as could regional conflicts. Ukraine had established the Anti-Terrorism Centre under Security Service and was implementing fully all agreed measures to combat and prevent terrorism, as identified in the Strategy. It had ratified 13 international anti-terrorist treaties over the last five years.
On the basis of the Strategy and Security Council resolutions, the Government of Ukraine was considering various forms of involvement in European and other international arrangements to combat terrorism, he said. The country was working with foreign law-enforcement agencies on the exchange of information relating to the prevention of terrorism. As an active member of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development (GUAM -– Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova), Ukraine continued to implement two projects in the areas of counter-terrorism and border security: one concerning the establishment of the GUAM Virtual Centre -- for combating terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and other dangerous types of crimes; and the other relating to the Project on Creation of the GUAM Inter-State Information Management System.
STUART BECK ( Palau) said that, like many small countries, his own island nation was committed to playing an active and aggressive role in the global counter-terrrorism effort. Palau recognized that international terrorism was not just a threat to the world’s major Powers like the United States, the European Union and the Russian Federation, but that it threatened all States, regardless of size. Moreover, as a small State largely dependent on tourism for its economic success, Palau recognized that even a single terrorist attack may be one too many as it would have a significant negative effect on economic development.
Thus, Palau had made a serious commitment to combating terrorism, he said. The country had demonstrated that commitment by signing 12 counter-terrorism conventions, fulfilled its reporting requirements, and taken steps to implement its obligations in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions on the issue, including by passing legislation aimed at deterring and stopping money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Even with all those efforts, more could be done, as Palau was aware that, in order to sustain its ability to fight terrorism, it needed to build local capacity. It was for that reason that Palau welcomed international assistance in the fight against terrorism.
SABELO SIVUYILE MAQUNGO ( South Africa) said that, in developing its anti-terrorism strategy, his country would not only address the symptoms of the problem, but also tackle their causes so as to forestall their recurrence as far as possible. That approach was evidenced by the manner in which national security and law-enforcement services had fought terrorism in the mid-1990s.
He said his country’s anti-terrorism strategy was also premised on the need to guarantee due process, and on the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorism and Related Activities Act of 2004, which had been adopted with that in mind. That legislation not only allowed the security and law-enforcement services to implement effective anti-terrorism measures, it denied terrorists the ability to procure material and human resources. Additionally, the Act, together with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, further guaranteed certain basic rights for those suspected of involvement in terrorism.
The Government had continuously striven to improve the capacity of its security and law-enforcement services as well as its National Prosecuting Authority to fight serious crimes, including terrorism, he stated, adding that extensive capacity-building programmes had been implemented in the fields of forensics, financial investigations and tactical response capabilities. Joint programmes with security and law-enforcement agencies in the Southern African subregion had ensured skills development for all participants and denied terrorists and organized crime groups access to weapons and safe havens.
GIADALLA ETTALHI ( Libya) said the review was taking place in the context of previous resolutions and the Secretary-General’s report. The Strategy’s four pillars were founded on the principle that the rule of law must be upheld. They were intended to serve as the cornerstone of efforts to address the global phenomenon of terrorism, but there were loopholes and inequities in applying them. Efforts to build the capacity of some States were inadequate, and, most importantly, double standards were applied in addressing such issues as religious and ethnic intolerance.
He said the central focus of global efforts against terrorism should be the prevention of its financing, particularly by monitoring monetary flows in illegal activities associated with terrorism, such as money laundering and the drug trade. Member States and the United Nations system must reinforce applicable measures to curb such financial flows, and those strengthened measures must be applied equally and everywhere at the international level. The United Nations should lead the process by monitoring activities through transparent financial institutions. Banking practices must be examined in both national jurisdictions and free zones, including in relation to the right to asylum. Finally, a comprehensive convention must be concluded and an international summit on terrorism convened.
HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia) said two points had emerged from the adoption of the Strategy. A course of action had been prescribed for countering terrorism globally, but without a definition of the phenomenon; and new players had been brought into the process of finding a solution, including the vast civil society network. However, the Strategy was by no means the be-all and end-all of counter-terrorism measures; indeed, the term “living document” denoted that it must be reviewed and updated. The current first review was to be a scorecard on the first two years of the Strategy. The Task Force should be institutionalized and a decision should be made about the nine non-mandated working groups that had been established.
He said the Strategy reaffirmed Malaysia’s own struggle with terrorists, beginning in 1948. Good progress had been made, but the awareness remained that terrorism could continue if one let one’s guard down. Member States must continue to exchange information, including by sharing experiences on counter-terrorism efforts. Malaysia was host to the South-East Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism, which provided training and capacity-building for law-enforcement and security officials. On the national level, efforts centred on bringing domestic legislation into line with international instruments.
MAZEN ADI (Syria), condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, whatever its source or perpetrators, whether individuals or States, said that, since 1986, his country had been in favour of holding a conference that would arrive at a definition of terrorism and distinguish between terrorism and the right to strive for self-determination and resist foreign occupation. Consensual concepts should be clear without any ambiguity. Syria supported serious international efforts to combat terrorism and deal with its root causes, but the Strategy did not constitute an alternative to establishing a definition of terrorism that would distinguish it from the right to resist occupation.
Stressing that dealing with the root causes of terrorism was the necessary condition of any strategy, he said that one of the main root causes was foreign occupation. However, the Strategy did not address State terrorism. Combating terrorism through the use of excessive force was not useful. There was now terrorism where there had been none before the use of excessive violence. Syria warned against the use of counter-terrorism as a pretext to spread hatred among religions and cultures, and rejected any attempt to link terrorism to any single religion, culture, language or country. Anti-terrorism measures must be commensurate with human rights and international humanitarian law.
He emphasized that the Assembly must play a central role in implementing the Strategy, adding that the Task Force should continue to work within the mandate entrusted to it by the Assembly and take guidelines from Member States. The convening of any meetings concerning the Strategy must be done after transparent discussions with Member States. While Syria expressed its deep sympathy with the victims of terrorism, including State terrorism, it was to be hoped that the symposium on victims of terrorism would have been prepared in a transparent and consensual way.
AHMED KHALEEL (Maldives), noting that a large section of the United Nations membership comprised small States, said some of today’s terrorist organizations and transnational crime syndicates had far greater resources at their disposal than some small sovereign Member States. Two decades ago, a group of armed terrorists from a neighbouring country had launched an attack on the Maldives with the aim of invading and converting it into a haven for terrorists to launch attacks on their own country. Ever since, the Maldives had advocated for effective multilateral cooperation to support small States in protecting their sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Strategy gave much hope in that regard as it paid considerable attention to capacity-building and the creation of an enabling environment conducive to preventing and combating terrorism.
He said his country was now a party to almost all major international counter-terrorism conventions and protocols. It was also a party to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and its Additional Protocol. It was to be hoped that the regional Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters would complement efforts for greater regional cooperation in the South Asian struggle against terrorism. Given its meagre human and financial resources, it was not easy for the Maldives to fulfil the numerous obligations under various Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. In that regard, the Maldives welcomed the cooperation and guidance received from the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the 1540 Committee experts.
GEORGE OLAGO OWUOR ( Kenya) said the Task Force had been useful in providing technical assistance to Member States in their quest to combat terrorism. However, it needed to be strengthened in order to be more efficient. Kenya therefore supported its institutionalization and urged the allocation of adequate resources for that purpose. Kenya would welcome a high-level meeting to review the Strategy’s implementation, and urged Member States to marshal the necessary political will to reach agreement on a definition of terrorism. Having been a victim of terrorism, Kenya remained in the frontline of support for international initiatives to reach a global solution. The country had acceded to all international counter-terrorism conventions.
He said his country had instituted a number of judicial and administrative measures and structures to enhance State capacity, which included: the establishment of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre; establishment of the Special Anti-Terrorism Police Unit; establishment of a special unit to prosecute terrorism and money-laundering cases; and the republication of the Suppression of Terrorism Bill. A number of regional initiatives were under way to foster cooperation between law enforcement and the intelligence machinery. A widespread public education campaign had been initiated to create awareness among the general populace of the dangers of terrorism. Despite those efforts, East Africa would still benefit from more support to step up its capacity to combat terrorism.
CHIRACHAI PUNKRASIN ( Thailand) said socio-economic development was a vital factor in preventing the spread of radicalization and terrorism. Thailand therefore strongly supported interfaith dialogue and network building among religious leaders, scholars and specialists. The Ministry of Education was working with religious leaders to ensure that school curricula presented ideas that were not prone to radicalization. Thailand had become a party to 9 of the 13 United Nations anti-terrorism conventions and protocols. It had also ratified the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Convention on Counter-Terrorism and approved the regulation on Man Portable Air Defence Systems. Thailand had also passed a Penal Code that would make the forgery, distribution, sale and possession of illegal passports and other travel documents a criminal offence.
Stressing that his country attached great importance to international cooperation on capacity-building, he said it upheld its obligations under international human rights instruments. As for the Strategy, there should be an institutionalized review mechanism to keep it relevant and to help Member States keep information on implementation worldwide up to date. Thailand urged more transparency in the collection of data by United Nations bodies. The Task Force should play a greater role in coordinating information among all the Organization’s agencies, and its coordinating feature should extend to expert groups established under various Council resolutions.
MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) said that, as a nation that had suffered immensely at the hands of terrorists, his country had made a significant contribution to the adoption and launching of the Strategy. In the past two years, Indonesia had taken a variety of domestic initiatives to implement the Strategy, including the enactment of a counter-terrorism law to provide the legal basis for the investigation, prosecution and punishment of terrorist acts, including their financing. More than 410 suspects had been arrested since the Bali bombing of 2002 and 269 of those had been convicted.
He said his country had also embarked on bilateral, regional and multilateral measures. The Bali Counter-Terrorism Process had established strong bonds of collaboration among legal and law-enforcement practitioners in South-East Asia. The Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation had provided training for law-enforcement officers in the region. Indonesia had also sponsored and participated in a number of initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue among civilizations. On the multilateral level, Indonesia had shown unwavering commitment to promoting the effective implementation of the 1267 sanctions regime. It had been active in promoting “fair and clear” procedures to protect the rights of individuals affected by that regime.
Noting that terrorism was a human challenge that respected no national borders or peoples, he stressed the need to reject the association of terrorism with particular religions, civilizations, cultures or ethnicities. While looking forward to a consistent, transparent, comprehensive and balanced implementation of the Strategy, Indonesia also looked forward to negotiating a comprehensive and balanced convention that respected the principles of international law and humanitarian law, as well as national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Indonesia commended the Secretary-General for organizing a symposium on supporting victims of terrorism.
G.S. PALIHAKKARA ( Sri Lanka) said terrorism had assumed an international dimension through its destructive networks of violence, fundraising and the smuggling of illicit arms, including possible weapons of mass destruction, and other forms of transnational crimes. The basic guarantees of fundamental rights and freedoms and the political space available to different actors in a democracy were increasingly exploited by elements bent on achieving political ends by violent means. It was therefore time to conclude the comprehensive convention on international terrorism.
The United Nations was well placed to lead a concerted global campaign against terrorism, he said. Such a campaign, supported by national and regional measures, would go a long way towards evolving comprehensive practical approaches to strengthening global peace and security as well as institutions of democracy and governance. The Strategy was being internalized by different United Nations organs, departments and divisions. It was imperative to further strengthen the process by relating it to Security Council procedures. While the ongoing interactions between the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate and the Task Force should be encouraged and intensified, the Task Force should encompass a broader base of the General Assembly membership.
ADRIAN NERITANI ( Albania) said his country had ratified most of the United Nations counter-terrorism conventions and protocols and had taken all necessary steps to adjust domestic legislation. Albania was doing its best to implement all relevant resolutions and preventive measures were being taken in the field of legislation, border control and finance. As a country that enjoyed good relations among its three main religions, Albania had undertaken important efforts with regard to intercultural and inter-religious dialogue. Some recent amendments to the Criminal Code intended to tackle fundraising, recruitment and training, as well as inciting propaganda. Albania continued to cooperate extensively with regional and global counterparts, and would continue to cooperate with specialized agencies and other bodies in the regional and global spectrum. The regular exchange of best practices and the assistance offered to Albania’s institutions was appreciated and valued.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) paid tribute to the late President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia, who passed away last month, before noting that the Task Force needed to be strengthened and institutionalized. Terrorism threatened the values of all civilizations, and the need for collective and coordinated global efforts against it, under United Nations leadership, could not be overemphasized. The United Republic of Tanzania had made modest but significant strides in preventing and countering terrorism. It had institutionalized legislation criminalizing and punishing terrorism and related crimes, but, owing to the global nature of the threat and its evolving unpredictable manifestation in the region, the resources available for the task had been overstretched. A national strategy could only be successful if it was linked to regional strategies and a larger global strategy.
He said his country was mindful of the need to respect and safeguard human rights in implementing the national counter-terrorism strategy. States with weak institutions and governmental authority provided a vacuum in which terrorists could hide. It was essential to assist those States to establish political authority and State structures with which adjacent States and the international community could cooperate to combat terrorism and related crimes. The United Republic of Tanzania proposed the provision of assistance to help neighbouring States deal appropriately with mixed flows of civilians across international borders, giving protection to those who deserved it while screening out those who posed security risks. In post-conflict situations, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes ought to be adequately financed to avoid the recruitment of ex-combatants into terrorist networks.
MEHDI DANESH-YAZDI ( Iran) said his country had joined the consensus on adopting the Strategy despite reservations about a number of issues, such as its having insufficiently addressed the root causes of terrorism. The unlawful use of force, aggression and foreign occupation provided the most fertile ground for fostering mass violence and acts of terrorism. Terrorism could not be eliminated if the environment that bred it, including foreign occupation, injustice and exclusion, was allowed to thrive. The Task Force should be bound by the mandate granted it by the Assembly and it should address the concerns expressed by many countries, on various occasions, about the criteria used to establish working groups, as well as the use of politically loaded notions which the Strategy intentionally avoided.
A comprehensive anti-terrorism bill was under consideration by relevant bodies for submission to Parliament, he said. An anti-money-laundering law provided necessary and sufficient legal tools to prevent and fight the laundering of proceeds from any crime. Drug trafficking was a major financial source for some terrorist groups, and more than 80 per cent of Afghanistan’s opium was trafficked across the border with Iran, which had lost more than 4,000 law-enforcement personnel and billions of dollars in the fight against drug traffickers. The international community should pay more attention to that issue.
Selectivity and double standards in dealing with terrorist groups was a real impediment to eliminating terrorism, he said, adding that high principles, including the rule of law, should not be sacrificed through resort to arbitrary persecution and unlawful or excessive counter-measures. The systematic abuse of counter-terrorism measures in recent years included the detention of suspected terrorists in secret locations, widespread resort to torture and the improper transfer of suspects.
MOHAMMAD AYOOB ERFANI ( Afghanistan) said his country, as a main victim and a frontline fighter against terrorism, strongly condemned all forms of terrorism as a clear violation of fundamental rights of humankind. It supported the Strategy and the work of the Ad Hoc Committee finalizing a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. Afghanistan had achieved tremendous progress in the last seven years, with the help of friends, but it was still suffering from the results of terrorist acts. Furthermore, terrorist networks were increasingly recruiting, training and exporting terrorists to the country. The Strategy’s capacity-building pillar was an essential element in the global effort to help needy countries implement all the pillars.
Implementation in Afghanistan was handled by a newly established Inter-Ministerial Working Group chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he said. Under the Strategy, the country had implemented many measures in coordination with United Nations entities and agencies that had provided technical, legal and logistical assistance. Among those measures was the establishment of a mechanism introduced into the Central Bank to counter money laundering and the adoption of laws to combat various forms of terrorism and corruption. Afghanistan, working closely with the United Nations, was providing reports and updated information to the relevant committees of the Security Council, and, because narcotics money was known to be a source of financing for terrorists, the Government was considering providing a list of drug smugglers to the Council’s 1267 Committee concerned with Al-Qaida and the Taliban.
GIANCARLO SOLER TORRIJOS ( Panama) said that, since there was no regular-budget funding, implementation of the Strategy by the Task Force was limited. The Task Force had helped Member States examine instruments to combat and prevent terrorism, as well as systematize information on anti-terrorism resources. One of the Task Force’s successes was the establishment of working groups that could help in identifying implementation gaps and help find mechanisms to disseminate best practices.
Panama welcomed the work of the Task Force in developing the rule of law and the protection of human rights, he said, adding that the draft resolution before the Assembly requested the institutionalization of the Task Force, an important step towards better implementation of the Strategy. It was impossible, however, for the Task Force to implement its mandate unless it was adequately financed through the regular budget. Panama hoped that could be accomplished in the near future and that an international convention on international terrorism could be concluded.
CARMEN MARIA GALLARDO HERNANDEZ ( El Salvador) underlined the importance of strengthening the role of the United Nations system regarding implementation of the Strategy, especially in the areas of cooperation and coordination with regional and subregional organizations and in capacity-building assistance. Promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms was also an important aspect of the fight against terrorism.
At the national level, the Government of El Salvador had revitalized the Special Group against Terrorism, she said, adding that the country was implementing an overall plan for citizens’ security. The National Civil Police was implementing a plan to reduce crime rates, improve perceptions of security and provide police services to the community. The armed forces had terrorism contingency plans. With the assistance of UNODC and the Inter-American Terrorism Committee, El Salvador had organized a workshop in March and April on counter-terrorism and the financing of terrorism, among other things. At the subregional level, the security strategy for Central America and Mexico included fighting organized crime gangs, drug trafficking, illicit arms smuggling, terrorism and corruption.
HASSAN SALEH ( Lebanon) said his country had ratified 11 of the 13 United Nations counter-terrorism conventions and was in the process of ratifying the remaining ones. The Strategy should be implemented in a holistic and integrated way, with equal emphasis on all four pillars. It should also be maintained as a living document, open to examination and updating on a regular basis. The Assembly should play the central role in combating terrorism since it was the only United Nations organ that enjoyed universal membership. Further, the Strategy should address the root causes of terrorism, including the unlawful use of force. It should provide a definition of terrorism and condemn State terrorism in the strongest terms.
The Strategy should differentiate between terrorism and the legitimate right to resist foreign occupation, a distinction duly observed in international law, international humanitarian law and Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, he said. That differentiation was very important because a basic aspect of terrorism was the indiscriminate nature of its violence. The response, nevertheless, should not be indiscriminate. The proposal to establish an international centre to combat international terrorism in Saudi Arabia should be supported. It should also be noted that the Task Force had been established under the capacity-building section of the Strategy. The intent was to ensure overall coordination and coherence in the United Nations system and to provide assistance to Member States. Ownership and leadership in implementation of the Strategy belonged to Member States.
The Assembly then adopted, without a vote as orally revised, the draft resolution entitled “The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy”, contained in document A/62/L.48, after a representative of the Secretariat stated that its adoption would not create any financial implications under the programme budget for the biennium 2008/09.
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