RENEWED EFFORT TOWARDS COMPLETION OF COMPREHENSIVE CONVENTION AGAINST TERRORISM APPLAUDED IN LEGAL COMMITTEE
RENEWED EFFORT TOWARDS COMPLETION OF COMPREHENSIVE CONVENTION AGAINST TERRORISM APPLAUDED IN LEGAL COMMITTEE
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-third General Assembly
2nd & 3rd Meetings (AM & PM)
RENEWED EFFORT TOWARDS COMPLETION OF COMPREHENSIVE CONVENTION
AGAINST TERRORISM APPLAUDED IN LEGAL COMMITTEE
Some Delegates Warn that Campaign to Fight ‘Global Scourge’
Must Avoid Links to Particular Race, Religion, Culture, Ethnic Group
Finalizing a draft comprehensive convention on terrorism would provide a clear legal framework for States to enhance cooperation on combating terrorism, the representative of Japan told the Sixth Committee (Legal) today, as the Committee began its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism.
There had been a constructive new effort to bridge the gap between views of delegations, Japan’s delegate continued, and he called on all States to exercise the utmost flexibility in negotiations towards the early conclusion of the draft convention. The question of a high-level conference on terrorism should be taken up once the draft was finalized.
Also this morning, delegations stressed the fact that acts of terrorism must not be linked to one race, religion, culture or ethnic group.
Tunisia’s representative, for example, said extremists must not be encouraged to think it was their duty to defend their religion against those who mocked it, noting that a point under consideration at the Tunis conference on terrorism last year had been the phenomenon that terrorism had provoked, “Islamophobia”. The international community must do more to stand up against those who promoted such propaganda.
The scope and intensity of terrorist acts in ever new forms transcended the ability of unilateral actions to address the threats, said the representative of Morocco. Any association of terrorism with any one nation, religion or ethnicity was entirely unacceptable. Terrorists rejected all religions and beliefs, and such prejudicial views only inflamed the cause of terrorists.
The representative of Australia, speaking also for Canada and New Zealand, said fighting terrorism required a comprehensive, multi-layered and long-term response from all people. It was important to pursue not just acts of terrorism, but the conditions conducive to its spread.
A finalized draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism would address all aspects of terrorism in a manner consistent with the principles of the sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States, said the representative of Viet Nam, also speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Also supporting the early adoption of a draft convention on terrorism was the representative of Kenya, speaking on behalf of the African Group, who said that, because terrorism violated basic human rights, States needed to ratify and implement all of the relevant instruments related to the matter.
The representative of Cuba said counter-terrorism measures could not be arbitrary and unilateral measures, which could lead to pre-emptive wars, acts of aggression, unilateral sanctions or the drafting of politically-motivated “lists” or certifications of countries.
The representative of India said that, while international instruments focused on promoting and protecting human rights while countering terrorism, the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy recognized, for the first time, the need to express solidarity with innocent victims of the scourge.
Rohan Perera, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism, introduced the Ad Hoc Committee’s report on the proceedings of its twelfth session held at Headquarters, 25-26 February and 6 March.
Also speaking today were the representatives of the Russian Federation, speaking on behalf of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; Mexico (on behalf of the Rio Group); Cuba (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement); Trinidad and Tobago (on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)); France (on behalf of the European Union); and Pakistan (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference).
Speaking in their national capacities this morning were Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Turkey, Nigeria, Algeria, Israel, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guatemala.
Speaking this afternoon were the delegates of Indonesia, Colombia, Lesotho, China, Yemen, Uganda, Belarus, Iceland, Tanzania, Republic of Korea, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Mozambique, Oman, Egypt, Côte D’Ivoire, Myanmar, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Singapore and Iran.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, 9 October, to continue and conclude its current consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism.
The Sixth Committee (Legal) met today to consider actions taken by the international community to formulate an organized response to terrorism.
For its consideration, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/63/173 and Add.1), which summarizes initiatives to combat terrorist activity undertaken by Governments and international organizations at the national, regional and international levels. The report also contains information on the status of relevant international legal instruments and on recent developments related to the finalizing of a draft comprehensive convention on terrorism. Information is also included on workshops and training courses conducted in relation to fighting terrorism. Publication of the third edition of International Instruments Related to Terrorism is also announced.
In the report, the Secretary-General says he requested information from Governments and organizations in January concerning the status and implementation of multilateral, regional and bilateral agreements related to international terrorism. As of 30 June, he says 25 States and eight international organizations had reported, as had the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). States had also referred to information they had provided to the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee.
The detailed presentation of the national reports contains information about the international instruments pertaining to international terrorism. Australia, for example, reported that it had implemented 13 of the 16 universal counter-terrorism instruments and the Government was in the final stages of determining necessary legislative changes to implement other instruments. Australia had also signed bilateral counter-terrorism memorandums of understanding and had hosted counter-terrorism conferences, among many other activities. The Russian Federation, as another example, was also party to 13 universal counter-terrorism instruments and was implementing legislation on preventing the financing of terrorism, among other related issues.
Other States whose responses are detailed in the Secretary-General’s report are Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Cuba, Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Malawi, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The Addendum contains the reports of Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua, Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and the World Bank.
Among organizations within the United Nations system whose responses are summarized is the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which the report says is in the final stages of preparing a five-volume security manual to serve as a legal and technical framework for international aviation safety against terrorism. There are also reports from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Trade Organization and the World Tourism Organization. The League of Arab States and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also reported, as did the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL). Among activities reported by a number of organizations were the holding of workshops and training courses on combating crimes connected with international terrorism.
Reporting on the status of relevant international legal instruments, the Secretary-General says there are 30 such instruments, 16 of which are universal (13 instrument and three amendments) and 14 regional. Universal instruments include conventions such as those related to offences involving aviation or nuclear material and protocols for maritime safety. Regional instruments include the Arab Convention on suppressing terrorism and the European counterpart instrument.
Another report before the Sixth Committee –- on Assistance in implementing the universal conventions and protocols related to terrorism (document A/63/89) -- reviews the technical assistance provided to States by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for implementation of those instruments, particularly through its Terrorism Prevention Branch, during the one-year reporting period ending 31 May. Challenges ahead are addressed, especially in implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The need for governmental support to meet the challenges is emphasized.
The report concludes that the scope of technical assistance provided by the Office in legal and related capacity-building has expanded consistently since 2003 in terms of geographic reach, number of recipient States and nature of assistance. With the development of partnerships, assistance requirements are on the rise. A key challenge is to ensure sustained services and adequate follow-up to ensure long-term impact. Also, assistance with ratifications and incorporation into national legislation needs to be reinforced towards the end of universal ratification. No State has yet ratified all 16 relevant instruments and fewer than 100 have ratified the first 12. The report says the capacity of national criminal justice systems also needs to be strengthened, so as to enable the application of legal regimes against terrorism in conformity with the rule of law.
Further, the report says the increasingly complex and multifaceted nature of terrorism calls for the Office to integrate services that incorporate the cross-cutting aspects of drug control, crime prevention and terrorism. In its mandated contribution to the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, the Office should ensure that all four pillars of the Global Strategy were promoted. The Office must also continue to establish and reinforce partnerships with other organizations. Increased and multi-year voluntary contributions should be encouraged for technical expertise assistance on legal and capacity-building matters, and for the corresponding expansion of technical assistance delivery activities and initiatives. In addition, the minimum core capacity for specialized expertise and secretariat functions to deliver greater levels of technical assistance must be provided from the regular budget.
To streamline the assistance process, the report recommends that the working group charged with integrating the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, in cooperation with UNODC and the Executive Directorate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, develop a mechanism by which Member States can channel their requests for assistance through one entry point. This new mechanism would allow States to receive a tailored response to all four pillars of the Strategy without contacting different United Nations entities.
Finally, before the Committee is the report of the Ad Hoc Committee established by 1996 General Assembly Resolution 51/210 (document A/63/37), concerning the elaboration of a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism. The report contains a summary of proceedings of the Ad Hoc Committee’s twelfth session (at Headquarters, 25-26 February and 6 March), where informal consultations were held on outstanding issues related to the convention, notably disagreement over the scope of applicability as contained in article 18.
The report recommends that a working group be established during the General Assembly’s sixty-third session, with a view to finalizing the comprehensive convention and continuing discussion of the question of convening a high-level conference under United Nations auspices to formulate a joint international response to terrorism.
Annex I of the report contains an informal summary prepared by the chairman on the exchange of views in plenary and on the result of informal consultations on general subjects, including the draft comprehensive convention and the high-level conference. Annex II contains reports on the informal contacts related to the comprehensive convention, including the results of intersessional and informal contacts during the Ad Hoc Committee’s session.
ROHAN PERERA, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee established by the 1996 General Assembly resolution 51/210 related to terrorism, introduced the report of its twelfth session. He said that, reaffirming a commitment to the early adoption of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, delegations had shown their determination to move forward the current negotiating process in order to finalize, without delay, the text of the draft convention.
He called on the Sixth Committee to keep in mind the expectation of the international community to bring “this long negotiating process” to a successful closure. The review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy generated a sense of urgency to redouble efforts towards the conclusion of the draft comprehensive convention, which was a vital component of the Strategy. A proposal to bridge the gap between varying viewpoints had emerged from intense informal consultations with delegations. The draft comprehensive convention, in its current form, contained elements for a viable and balanced package. He said the time available was not limitless. The necessary decisions must be made. The Sixth Committee had the chance to “seize the moment and realize that the proposal on the table is probably the best possible option” to realize the goal of concluding the draft convention.
VITALY CHERKIN ( Russian Federation), speaking for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (comprising also Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) said the common threat of terrorism must not be allowed to supplant mutual trust and effective cooperation among States with the “logic of confrontational mentality, egoistical unipolarity and double standards”.
In his group, States that were homes to numerous people with various religious beliefs and cultural traditions were united. The rejection of terrorism should be made an integral part of the dialogue among religions and civilizations. Any attempts to use the issue for the purpose of inflaming ethnic or religious enmity should be ruled out. Broad preventive measures against terrorism should include countering ideology that sustained it. Partnerships in fighting terrorism must include States, civil society, the mass media and the private sector.
Moving on, he said the strengthening of regional stability in Central Asia was a priority for his group. Terrorist and narcotic threats emanating from Afghanistan were main destabilizing factors. Partnerships were again the answer. The Shanghai Organization would continue developing contacts with the Collective Security Treaty Organization and with the Anti-Terrorist Centre of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
He said the first review of the Global Strategy in September had reaffirmed the important role of regional organizations in addressing the agreed practical counter-terrorism tasks. His group was ready for closer cooperation with the United Nations counter-terrorism bodies. Working together would advance the attainment of high priority tasks, including agreement on the comprehensive convention.
ALEJANDRO ALDAY GONZÁLEZ (Mexico), speaking for the Rio Group, said the Implementation Task Force should be institutionalized within the Secretariat so that States could interact with it in the General Assembly on a regular basis and provide it with policy guidance. The prevention and repression of terrorism were equally important. Efforts should be directed at eliminating the factors that led to terrorism, including intolerance and divisions among nations. The repression and elimination of terrorism, including its financing, should be carried out through judicial cooperation and information exchange. Associated criminal activities should be included.
Measures taken to eliminate terrorism must always be in accordance with the rule of law, he said. International law, its principles and standards, must be strictly observed. The only procedures that could be successful and garner international support were those adopted in accordance with the United Nations Charter and with relevant treaties. Cooperation for extradition of perpetrators of terrorist acts and mutual judicial assistance must also be framed in accordance with relevant international law and national legislation. Actions outside that legal framework were unjustifiable.
Finally, he said all States must make every effort to conclude a comprehensive convention that strengthened the international legal framework on counter-terrorism. That convention would complement the legal framework already in force. It would constitute a special instrument on the matter and provide concrete responses to the challenge faced by all humanity. Negotiations should now be undertaken in an open format in the context of the Ad Hoc Working Group or the Legal Committee. A spirit of compromise and political will could bring about substantial results quickly towards convening a high-level conference.
KERRY O’BRIEN ( Australia), speaking also for Canada and New Zealand, said there remained no room for complacency in the global fight against terrorism. Urging States to become parties to, and to implement, counter-terrorism conventions and protocols, he said greater cooperation at the regional and international levels would “strengthen our collective hand against this challenge”. Welcoming the work of institutions helping to make counter-terrorism legal instruments a reality on the ground, he said the three countries for whom he spoke (CANZ) strongly supported the work of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate towards engaging donors and matching their capabilities with the needs and priorities of recipient countries. He said CANZ also appreciated the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and other international donors to promote the ratification and implementation of the international counter-terrorism legal framework in South-East Asia and the Pacific.
Calling the United Nations the “pre-eminent forum for multilateral action” on the matter, he said uniting behind the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy was not a choice, but a fundamental duty. The conclusion of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, which CANZ supported, would demonstrate unambiguously a global political commitment to criminalize all terrorist acts and to cooperate to prosecute those responsible for such atrocities.
Speaking of terrorist activity in the Asia-Pacific region, he said the threat of attacks in this area of the world persisted, and were a reminder of the urgent need for strong regional counter-terrorism cooperation. Since 2003, Australia had allocated over $450 million to fight the terrorist threat in South-East Asia, while Canada had provided nearly $50 million for training and technical assistance to help mitigate the impact of terrorism worldwide. In that regard, CANZ recognized that it was not enough to suppress terrorist acts; preventing the financing of terrorism should also be a focus. To that end, CANZ encouraged the strengthening of legislative, regulatory and other measures to prevent and combat terrorist financing. Ensuring a safe and secure world was the responsibility of all people, including citizens, not just Governments and law enforcement agencies. He said that, recognizing that the threat of international terrorism required a comprehensive, multi-layered and long-term response, it was important to pursue initiatives aimed at addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, such as the Alliance of Civilizations and interfaith dialogues.
RODRIGO MALMIERCA DÍAZ ( Cuba), speaking for the 118 States of the Non-Aligned Movement, said terrorist acts endangered the territorial integrity and stability of States, as well as national, regional and international security. He said that, condemning and rejecting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, the Non-Aligned Movement reaffirmed its support for the provisions contained in General Assembly resolution 46/51 and other relevant United Nations resolutions. Terrorism could not and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group. Accordingly, such attributions should not be used to justify terrorism or counter-terrorism measures that included profiling terrorists or intruding on individual privacy. Terrorism should not be equated with the legitimate struggle of people under colonial or alien domination and foreign occupation for self-determination. In that connection, the brutalization of people under foreign occupation should continue to be denounced as the gravest form of terrorism.
Conscious of the need to take speedy and effective measures to eliminate terrorism, he said the Non-Aligned Movement encouraged all States which had not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding to the United Nations conventions and protocols relating to terrorism, and also to observe and implement relevant regional and bilateral instruments relating to terrorism. In particular, States should take into account the recommendations of the Final Document of the United Nations Conference on the Prevention of Crime and Criminal Justice held in Cairo in 1995. It was integral that the fight against terrorism did not compromise human rights and fundamental freedoms.
He said the Non-Aligned Movement reiterated its call for an International Summit Conference under the auspices of the United Nations to formulate a joint, organized response of the international community to all forms of terrorism, and to identify its root causes. It also emphasized the importance of the conclusion of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism. The Movement supported the elaboration of an international code of conduct aimed at reinforcing coordination and multilateral efforts for the prevention of terrorism, but rejected the use or threat of use of force, in particular by armed forces, imposed or threatened to be imposed by any State against any member of the Movement under the pretext of combating terrorism or pursing political aims. He called on the Security Council sanction committees to streamline their listing and delisting procedures to address the concerns of due process and transparency.
LE LUONG MINH (Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the ASEAN Convention on Counter-Terrorism had been signed by all Members in January 2007 at the ASEAN Summit in the Philippines. All countries were trying to fulfil constitutional requirements to bring the convention into force. Once it was ratified by 6 of the 10 ASEAN members, it would enter into force and provide States with a legal framework for regional cooperation.
He said the convention was unique in that it addressed terrorism in all its aspects. It provided that obligations be carried out in a manner consistent with the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States, as well as non-interference in the internal affairs of States. It emphasized the need to cooperate in addressing root causes and in preventing the perpetration and the propagation of terrorist acts, subject to the consent of concerned parties. The fair treatment of persons taken into custody was also a provision, as was the guarantee to the enjoyment of all rights under the laws of the relevant territory and the applicable provisions of international law. Finally, the convention provided for the promotion of sharing best practices on rehabilitative programmes, including social reintegration of persons involved in committing terrorist offences where appropriate, in the interest of preventing the perpetration of terrorist acts.
Reviewing the many activities that had been undertaken by ASEAN members at the regional level, he said those States had continued dialogues with Japan to facilitate capacity-building cooperation. The third dialogue would be held from 13-15 October in Luang Prabang, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, for an exchange of views on proposed projects. Two ASEAN countries were presently Security Council members, namely his own and Indonesia. They were working with the Council’s counter-terrorism groups to promote counter-terrorism activities and to facilitate dialogue between the committees and to encourage the provision of counter-terrorism technical assistance.
MARINA VALERE ( Trinidad and Tobago), speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said her group was committed to implementing obligations under the counter-terrorism conventions to which they were party. The provisions of the convention were complementary to regional efforts. Workshops on implementing the relevant resolutions had helped officials prepare periodic reports. The reporting mechanisms should be reviewed, taking into consideration the human resource constraints faced by many developing States.
Further, she said it was imperative to conclude and adopt the comprehensive convention on terrorism. The convention, complete with a universally accepted definition of terrorism, would provide greater legal certainty in defeating global crime. It would also ensure that those responsible were brought to justice. The opportunity of the current multilateral forum to bury differences and reach consensus on remaining issues must be embraced.
The international community must remain steadfast in the fight against the perpetrators of terrorism, who showed no regard for the human rights of victims, she said. The root causes must be tackled in a comprehensive manner, and the war on terror must not derogate from the inalienable right under international law to self-determination. But in the struggle against the menace of terrorism, care must be taken to not emulate the behaviour of terrorists by showing flagrant disregard for international law, particularly international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
She said the Caribbean was not just a sea lane for the region’s littoral States. Both the living and non-living resources of the sea, along with the airspace, were central to sustainable development and the well-being of citizens. Terrorist acts could have deleterious effects on the peace and economic security of the region, particularly in connection with other crimes. A CARICOM Maritime and Air Space Security Co-operation Agreement called for cooperation among the law enforcement sectors of Member States.
ZACHARY MUBURI-MUITA (Kenya), speaking for the African Group and aligning himself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said terrorism violated basic human rights, particularly the right to life, freedom of expression, freedom from fear, right to development, right to practise religion and the right to security. The African Group supported the need for early adoption of the draft comprehensive convention against terrorism and called for the ratification and implementation of all relevant international instruments related to terrorism. It urged the international community to provide technical assistance to African States for the implementation of these relevant international instruments. In particular, the Group stressed the need to implement the African Union Plan of Action on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, and recalled that the establishment of the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism was a novel achievement in Africa’s efforts to outlaw and eradicate the scourge from the continent.
He referred to the 1999 Algiers Convention adopted by African leaders, and said States’ parties to the Convention were committed to comply with African and international treaties relating to human rights, humanitarian law and other principles of international law. Inter-State cooperation, as well as cooperation between regional and international organizations, needed to be strengthened to fight terrorism.
He said adoption of the Algiers Convention led African leaders to become more aware of the growing linkages between terrorism and organized crime, and other scourges such as poverty, long-term conflicts and the denial of people’s basic rights. On the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on drafting a comprehensive convention on terrorism, he said definitions in regional instruments might be useful; this convention should in no way deny people their right to self-determination. Liberation struggles did not constitute terrorism, as had been recognized by relevant General Assembly resolutions. Endorsing the proposal to convene a high-level conference on terrorism, he said the African Group was willing to work with other delegations on refining the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and reaching a consensus on the draft comprehensive convention on terrorism.
HUBERT RENIE (France), speaking for the European Union, called terrorism “criminal and unjustifiable” in all its forms, and pledged the European Union’s support for the counter-terrorism actions taken by both the United Nations and regional organizations, such as the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He commended the work of the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and called on all Member States to become parties to all United Nations counter-terrorism conventions and protocols. There should be full support for the Security Council’s counter-terrorism bodies, and Member States should fully implement Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on the matter.
He said he welcomed the consensus of the implementation review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy; this agreement showed the ability of Member States to speak firmly, jointly and resolutely about their common objective of fighting terrorism. The European Union renewed its call for the implementation of this Strategy and the four pillars that comprised it, on the basis of a global and integrated approach rooted in the rule of law. He called for all relevant actors, including civil society, the private sector, regional and subregional organizations, to be involved in the implementation.
Noting the important work of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, he said the body should be provided with the budgetary and administrative support necessary to continue strengthening its work on strategy implementation. Progress so far should inspire Member States in their negotiations aimed at drafting a comprehensive convention on international terrorism; an international conference on combating terrorism should be considered only after reaching an agreement on the draft convention.
Because terrorism fed on prejudice and ignorance, he said the European Union would continue its efforts to strengthen dialogue and mutual understanding between cultures. It welcomed the founding of the “Union for the Mediterranean”, which would provide a sustainable framework for dialogue. He said the Euro-Mediterranean code of conduct on the fight against terrorism, the Alliance of Civilizations, the Interfaith Dialogue and efforts by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) all showed a resolve to strengthen cooperation to tackle this global challenge.
FARUKH AMIL ( Pakistan), speaking for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), reaffirmed that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, race, faith, theology, values, culture, society or group. In a globalizing world, it was more important than ever to cultivate understanding, harmony and the building of bridges among all cultures and peoples.
He said mutual cooperation was critical in the fight against terror. The comprehensive strategy must address the root causes. The distinction must be drawn between terrorism and the exercise of the legitimate rights of people to resist foreign occupation. A high-level conference under United Nations auspices should be held to formulate a joint organized response of the international community to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. An international centre to combat international terrorism should be established in accordance with the proposal of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and a code of conduct should be developed.
On the comprehensive convention, he said the OIC was committed to the process of negotiation and was seriously considering the Coordinator’s proposal. Every effort must be made to conclude the instrument, including by resolving the outstanding issues related to the legal definition of terrorism and on the scope of acts covered.
HASSAN ALI SALEH ( Lebanon), speaking for the Arab Group of Member States, said he aligned himself with the statements delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. He said his group condemned both terrorism and the association of terrorism with any group, religion or culture. A definition of terrorism should now be concluded, and it must include a specific distinction between terrorism and the legitimate rights of people to self-determination. The definition must also condemn State terrorism. An international conference should be held to help finalize the convention.
In the fight against terrorism, he said, all measures adopted must comply with international law and must be in conformance with provisions of the Charter. They must also adhere to international agreements and protocols, including human rights law and refugee law. The Global Strategy must be viewed as a living document that intended to be adapted over time, and it must be kept in mind that the responsibility for implementing the Strategy resided with Member States. Tunisia’s proposal to hold a seminar for formulating a code of conduct should be adopted.
CHRISTINE MÖHLER ( Liechtenstein), reaffirming a commitment to contribute to the international fight against terrorism in all its aspects, welcomed the review of the implementation of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy. She suggested reducing the text of the Sixth Committee’s annual resolution and said work on the Strategy should not be duplicated. Instead, attention should be focused on the conclusion of the negotiations on a draft comprehensive convention against terrorism. She said the approach of the Coordinator of the Ad Hoc Committee towards establishing the draft comprehensive convention was the only “legally sound and politically realistic proposal”. She said the compromise text on the convention referred mainly to article 18, which dealt with exceptions from the convention regime.
In that connection, the text should be considered in the context of the other provisions of the draft convention, and in the wider framework of international conventions in the area. The comprehensive convention on its own would not provide the overarching legal definition of terrorism, but only in conjunction with the existing instruments. She emphasized that the convention would not affect the right to self-determination, and would also not make a distinction between terrorism and the right to self-determination. Rather, the Coordinator’s proposal was mainly aimed at clarifying the relationship between the convention and international humanitarian law and did not impose on future State parties rules of international humanitarian law by which they were not bound before. Lastly, the convention did not explicitly address the concept of “State terrorism”, but also did not entirely exclude it. Thus, the time had come to muster the necessary will for a compromise on the matter.
CAROLINE BICHET-ANTHAMATTEN ( Switzerland) said combating terrorism, which Switzerland condemned in all its forms and manifestations, should remain a priority. Recalling the General Assembly’s review of the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, she said Switzerland had contributed to the Strategy by working with other States to launch an International Process on Global Counter-Terrorism Cooperation. Throughout the past year, experts from Governments, relevant United Nations organs and other multilateral organizations had cooperated with non-governmental organizations to look at ways in which the four pillars might be strengthened to achieve greater and more balanced implementation.
Noting that the review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy produced 19 proposals to improve its implementation, she identified three areas which merited further examination: the cooperation of United Nations entities with different legal status; the governance architecture as a whole; and the relationship between Member States and the secretariats of the relevant organizations. Switzerland regretted that, despite these constructive proposals, little progress had been made on negotiating an international convention against terrorism. Recalling the outcome document of the World Summit of 2005, the adoption of this text remained the principal task. While the Strategy underscored the willingness of Member States to reach agreement on an international convention, Switzerland was now ready to accept the Coordinator’s text for article 18, as long as the integrity of international law was respected.
ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMAD ( Sudan) said he aligned himself with the statements delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Group, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab Group. He said he condemned all forms of terrorism, including State terrorism. His society was based on tolerance and had no cultural ties to a destructive phenomenon such as terrorism. The Sudan had completed its legislative process on 12 of the United Nations international instruments related to terrorism and was nearing completion on the instrument related to nuclear terror. The Sudan abided by all its international commitments and cooperated with the United Nations Drugs and Crime Office to get its domestic legislation in harmony with the international rules. Among other measures, an integrated legislative framework aimed at combating terrorism had been established and a special prosecutor’s office instituted for the investigation of terrorism-related matters. Special emphasis was placed on ensuring that measures were being implemented.
At the international level, he said, all actions undertaken to fight terrorism must be within the framework of international law, particularly human rights law. The General Assembly should lead and coordinate those activities, and it should introduce more initiatives to support efforts and build national capacities. The Assembly should also lead a campaign of international introspection into the phenomenon of how the war on terror had become a political tool to promote unilateral aims. That course needed to be amended, along with the international environment that had led to the phenomenon of terror in the first place. Social and economic injustice must end. Also stopped must be the deliberate confusion of a people’s right to struggle against oppression and terrorism, including State terrorism. States must stop attacking the noble religion of Islam. They must not allow mockeries, such as the cartoons that had been published.
He said the Assembly had just conducted a review of the Global Strategy, which needed a definition of terrorism and adequate attention to root causes. The comprehensive convention must include a legal and concise definition of terror and its ideological contexts. It must also address the fact of the continued rise of terrorist actions and of new forms of terror forming, including the terror perpetrated by organizations that had been formed to advocate and promote the law. The decision by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court with regard to his country was a blow to justice and a blatant abuse of international law. It was a new form of terrorism, because what was terrorism if not a form of political coercion? Terror was terror, whether it came dressed in street clothes or in the robes of justice. The phenomenon must be addressed speedily.
KHAMIS LEBSAILI ( United Arab Emirates) said terrorism was the greatest threat to humanity, especially as terrorists used the tools of globalization with greater frequency and their actions became increasingly transnational. All States must carry out their obligations under the Global Strategy, which must be implemented non-selectively. Assistance in capacity-building must be enhanced without prejudice. It was unacceptable to associate terrorism with any culture or religion. An international counter-terrorism centre should be established. Respect for human rights must be made a priority. The international conference to formulate a unified response to terrorism should be held and the United Nations should uphold its responsibility by dealing with situations involving foreign occupation.
Expressing opposition to all forms of terrorism, he said all such crimes were crimes against human rights and against the tenets of Islam. The comprehensive convention should include a definition of terrorism. In July, his country had enacted new federal regulations on terrorism that included a definition. Other significant legislative changes had addressed matters related to the financing of terrorism, strengthening of the monitoring of borders and prohibitions against joining terror groups and violations of airspace for terrorist purposes. All States should fully honour commitments to resolutions they had signed and provide reports to committees on time. Gaps in policy should be filled, so as to enable States to combat transnational crimes. Technical assistance and training should be provided to enable States to fulfil obligations.
ISMAT JAHAN ( Bangladesh) said terrorism was a global, cross-border challenge, which was becoming increasingly difficult to combat as it adjusted to globalization. Success in defeating it, therefore, needed international solidarity and multilateral cooperation. The adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy was a testimony to the collective determination to combat terrorism. To ensure its full and effective implementation, the necessary assistance must be provided for capacity-building in developing countries, with a special focus on the least developed. An effective response to combating terrorism should include sincere attempts to address its root causes or conditions conducive to its spread, such as the resolution of long-standing conflicts and recognition of the rights of peoples to self-determination, and taking account of political oppression, social and economic marginalization, and victimization.
She said counter-terrorism and development of an agenda for peace were interrelated. Respect for human rights, international humanitarian rights and the rule of law remained the crucial foundation for counter-terrorism activity. In addition, any attempt to associate terrorism with any particular nation, culture, race or religion was wrong and unacceptable. In that connection, Bangladesh supported programmes and policies encouraging dialogue among civilizations and religions. As a party to the 13 United Nations conventions and protocols on terrorism, and also the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Regional Convention on Terrorism, Bangladesh was in the process of implementing those conventions by making adjustments and modifications to legislation and policy instruments.
Although Bangladesh appreciated the technical assistance provided by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Terrorism Prevention Branch, she continued, increased international support was needed for institutionalizing an anti-money-laundering mechanism, establishing a counter-terrorism unit in its law enforcement agencies and strengthening and maintaining updated databases. On the establishment of a comprehensive convention on the matter, she said any selective approach to its creation would frustrate the aim of the convention.
FAZLI CORMAN ( Turkey) said terrorism was “a crime against humanity which cannot be justified under any reason or pretext”. Since no culture or religion could be associated with violence and terrorism, implementation initiatives, such as the Alliance of Civilizations, which were designed to promote dialogue, tolerance and understanding, should be an integral part of combating terrorism. The fight against terrorism was a common one to the international community. In that regard, Turkey hoped that, during the current session, the Sixth Committee would be able to bridge the remaining gaps on outstanding issues and agree on a truly comprehensive and effective instrument for the fight against terrorism.
He said the creation of the International Symposium on Supporting Victims of Terrorism had given a human face to the scourge of terrorism and had brought a concrete dimension to the discussions on the subject. He hoped this could speed up progress on the draft convention. Although international instruments to combat terrorism were essential, an even more daunting task was to translate words and deeds into actions. The 13 universal instruments pertaining to terrorism, as well as Security Council resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1624 (2005), provided a firm basis for combating terrorism. However, success of counter-terrorism efforts depended on unwavering and full compliance of obligations under these instruments and resolutions.
ANGELA NWORGU (Nigeria), condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, said the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy was a key achievement that gave priority to addressing underlying conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, including poverty; unresolved conflicts; and ethnic, national and religious discrimination. It also emphasized respect for human rights and promotion of the rule of law. As a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, Nigeria had included the promotion of tolerance, including religious tolerance, in its Federal Constitution as a “fundamental objective and directive principle of State policy”. Nigeria had ratified nine of the universal instruments against terrorism, as well as fully implemented the African Union Plan of Action against it. It carried out robust perception management and de-radicalization, and counter-radicalization programmes.
She said that, while some delegations believed that addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism should be the focus of efforts to eradicate it, others emphasized issues of good governance, democracy and human rights. In between those two positions was the need to promote the linkages between the Strategy and the two major United Nations initiatives that lay at the heart of efforts to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism: the Millennium Development Goals and the Alliance of Civilizations. Although referring to both, the Strategy offered no guidance on how they related in practical terms to Strategy implementation.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) said there was no justification whatsoever for terrorism, but the propaganda against Islam was equally unacceptable. The phenomenon of terrorism and its ideology were wholly alien to his country and culture. Only a global comprehensive strategy could address the challenges posed by terrorism. His country had been involved in a process of national reconciliation for three years, with the ultimate goal of moving beyond a very painful period.
He said terrorism constantly changed its face and the international community needed a comprehensive, collectively agreed-upon approach that addressed that fact. The United Nations was the appropriate forum for developing such a response. The Strategy must be applied as a whole because selective application damaged its integrity. Technical assistance must be provided for implementation. The law was an essential component of the fight against terrorism, but a comprehensive convention had yet to be completed. All delegations should engage in substantive discussions to clarify and agree on the distinction between terrorism and the legitimate right of people to struggle against oppression.
ADY SCHONMANN ( Israel) said terrorism was a multifaceted phenomenon which sought legitimacy and political power to undermine democracies from within. It was, therefore, not surprising that in the negotiations before the Sixth Committee terrorism had sought legitimacy in the form of recognition of a distinction between permissible and impermissible forms of terror. Furthermore, the economics of terrorism had shown that terrorism could not operate without a steady flow of funds. Unfortunately, efforts put forth by the Sixth Committee to create a universal standard by which States could combat terrorism were still plagued by controversy. This prevented progress in the foreseeable future, and undermined the legitimacy of the United Nations and State practices to combat terrorism.
Recalling that the General Assembly had adopted, by consensus, during its sixtieth session, a Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, he said reaching a working definition of international terrorism required legal precision and moral clarity. As much as Israel wished to see the comprehensive convention concluded at the earliest opportunity possible, it should not come at the expense of diluting the principles that stood to make it an effective tool in the fight against terrorism.
Fighting terrorism, he said, required a calculated strategy on many levels. At the national level, States should be encouraged to adopt and implement domestic legislation to target terrorists and support their structure. The international community should also take firm action against States that provided a safe haven for terrorists, encouraged and supported their activities, or refrained from acting against them. Finally, counter-terrorism measures should be taken through regional and international agreements to ensure a coordinated, resolute and comprehensive response. Reviewing the situation in Israel, he said that, while terrorists continued to devise new methods of destruction, Israel’s experience, along with that of other States confronting terrorists, had shown that, with dedication, cooperation and resolve, lives could be protected and terrorists could be thwarted.
MUKONGO NGAY ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) spoke of the negotiations on the draft convention. He called on the delegations to conclude consideration on the matter, and said it was necessary to keep the convening of a high-level conference on international terrorism on the Sixth Committee’s agenda. The fight against terrorism must not turn into a negation of human rights, he said. Cooperation between security services and foreign internal and external information services was of utmost importance, and needed to be improved.
He referred to national initiatives relating to terrorism and said the Democratic Republic of the Congo had already presented several reports, as required by Security Council resolution 1373 (2001), and would progress with efforts in that regard. His country was now a party to several international conventions relating to terrorism, including the United Nations Convention against Organized Crime and its three Protocols, the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, the Convention on the Suppression of Nuclear Terrorism and the Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
He said laws of the Democratic Republic of the Congo now covered money-laundering and the financing of terrorism. Another new law would allow for the punishment of crimes of genocide, war and terrorism. The country’s high court would now also punish those officers of the national army found guilty of terrorist acts with life sentences or the death penalty.
HABIB MANSOUR ( Tunisia) said the Global Strategy was well in place; now what was needed was to gather solidarity around it and to strengthen consensus so as to promote ownership. Less progress had been made on the draft comprehensive convention. Significant differences remained, particularly in respect to scope, but the differences were not insurmountable.
Now was the time, he continued, for the international community to admit that, despite all efforts to fight terrorism, that activity continued. A full exploration of the root causes must be conducted, in order to understand and to address them. Those included conflicts that had remained unresolved, as well as injustice and social exclusion. The dialogue between civilizations must be promoted as part of the war against terrorism. His country had hosted the Tunis conference on terrorism in November of last year. A point under consideration had been the phenomenon that terrorism had provoked, “Islamophobia”. The international community must do more to stand up against those who promoted such propaganda. At the Tunis conference, it had been affirmed that extremists must not be encouraged to think it was their duty to defend their religion against those who mocked it. A code of conduct should be adopted on fighting the war on terrorism. The campaign to fight global terrorism called for the cooperation of the international community, but the fact that terrorism continued to occur meant that more was needed at the international level to succeed against it.
ANA CRISTINA RODRÍGUEZ-PINEDA ( Guatemala) said Guatemala sought the integration of international instruments to combat terrorism; thus far, Guatemala had ratified 10 of the 16 universal instruments, and was in the process of ratifying others. On a national level, Guatemala had established new laws relating to terrorism, including the question of financing. She recalled that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, together with the Inter-American Committee on Counter-Terrorism of the Organization of American States (OAS) had carried out its third technical assistance mission of drafting and implementing the international conventions relating to terrorism. Guatemala had, on its own, launched a national team on the suppression and prevention of cybercrimes and had acceded to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations Staff and Associated Personnel.
She said the internationalization of terrorism had not yet found a response in the internationalization of suppression. In that connection, a universal definition of terrorism needed to be developed. She looked forward to further debate on the Coordinator’s proposals on the matter. She noted that, because of its geographical location, Guatemala was a transit point for trafficking, such as in small arms, light weapons and humans, as well as a point of organized crime. Thus, its location put Guatemala at great risk of terrorist attacks. In that regard, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in its report on crimes in Central America, had not underestimated the possible links between trafficking, transnational organized crime and terrorism.
When the Commonwealth met again this afternoon, MARTY NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) said that in accordance with paragraph 10(a) of the Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism, Indonesia had taken many initiatives at the national, bilateral and regional levels. At the domestic level, these included enacting a counter-terrorism law to provide the legal basis for the investigation, prosecution and punishment of terrorist acts, including financing, and increasing the capabilities of local law enforcement. At the bilateral level, Indonesia had concluded counter-terrorism cooperation agreements with several countries, while, at the regional level, Indonesia had spearheaded cooperation in law enforcement, border control and the enactment of legislative frameworks for counter-terrorism. It had helped to develop the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Convention on Counter-Terrorism.
He said he hoped a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism would be finalized before the end of the year. Indonesia supported the convening of a working group to continue the work of the Ad Hoc Committee, with the view of concluding a draft convention. He reiterated the need to convene a high-level conference on the matter, which could provide a forum to identify practical ways of strengthening the role of the United Nations in the fight against terrorism.
CLAUDIA BLUM (Colombia), emphasizing that the review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the creation of the Symposium on Victims of Terrorism were breakthroughs in the treatment of international terrorism and an opportunity to acknowledge the long road ahead, called on the international community to redouble its efforts to combat the “scourge” of terrorism. Two priorities should be the conclusion of a comprehensive convention against international terrorism and the convening of a high-level conference on the issue.
At the national level, she said, Colombia had made significant progress in the dismantling of paramilitary and guerrilla activity, and advancing human rights. The Ministry of National Defence, for instance, had implemented a policy of human rights protection and implementation of international humanitarian law as a legitimizing element of the Armed Forces. She pointed out that Colombia would present itself voluntarily to the Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights. Thanks to its democratic security policy, Colombia had recovered the monopoly of weapons. Thus, citizens felt safer to claim their rights and to work jointly with the State.
Colombia had enjoyed the cooperation and support of the international community, especially the United Nations, and, to that end, it was necessary to articulate and promote global policy agreements, including actions against money-laundering and drug trafficking and a resolute will of States to avoid giving refuge to members of terrorist groups. In addition, sharing intelligence information would allow for the dismantling of transnational terrorist networks.
NIRUPAM SEN ( India) said all available tools to fight terrorism were used in India, within the arsenal of a democratic nation governed by the rule of law. There were laws criminalizing terrorism, including incitement and financing, and laws against holding the proceeds of terrorism, among many others.
He said the international conventions focused on promoting and protecting human rights while countering terrorism, but the Global Strategy, for the first time, recognized the need to express solidarity with innocent victims of the scourge. Last month’s symposium on victims of terrorism had helped put a human face on the effects of terrorism and had provided a forum for victims’ voices. Also, the wide participation of Member States in the review process had demonstrated the importance attached to the Strategy. The proposed “integrated implementation initiative” of the Implementation Task Force would help avoid duplication of efforts in the United Nations system. Implementation rested on Member States, and the hope was that the Strategy would provide the impetus to unite States through practical measures, enabling cooperation by way of extradition, prosecution, information exchange and capacity-building.
LEBOHANG FINE MAEMA ( Lesotho) said his country had ratified seven conventions and protocols related to terrorism, including the one on suppression of nuclear terrorism. States should honour the commitment, made in the 2005 World Summit and the 2006 Global Strategy, to make every effort to reach agreement and conclude the work on the comprehensive convention. There must not be allowed any justification for international terrorism and the international community should show its strong commitment and unity in combating the scourge. The war on terrorism must also be conducted in conformity with international law, including the Charter. While international cooperation had brought successes in the fight against terrorism, long-term sustainable success in curbing the scourge would be achieved only by addressing the conditions that contributed to spreading it, which included unresolved conflicts.
ILEANA NÚÑEZ MORDOCHE ( Cuba) said measures to eliminate terrorism must be based on strict respect for the United Nations Charter and the principles of international law. They could not be arbitrary and unilateral measures leading to pre-emptive wars, acts of aggression, covered-up actions, unilateral sanctions or the drafting of politically-motivated “lists” or certifications of countries. Continued work on concluding the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism was important. It should provide a clear definition of such crimes, free from selectivity and national interest, and should include the activities of the armed forces, which were not regulated by humanitarian international law. Furthermore, a clear distinction should be drawn between terrorism and peoples’ struggles for their independence and self-determination.
Calling for States to implement the United Nations World Strategy to Combat Terrorism, he said Cuba welcomed the results of the review of this Strategy. It expected better institutionalization of the Special Task Force and greater interaction between the Force and Member States. He said Cuba had promulgated a comprehensive law against terrorist acts and had adopted internal non-legislative measures to fight the scourge.
He cited the cases of “the terrorists Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch”, who continued to live in the United States. Meanwhile, the United States continued to include Cuba in the list of States that supposedly sponsored international terrorism, while funds were granted in Miami and other United States cities to carry out terrorist acts. He said Cuba believed that a sincere path in the fight against terrorism should be opened, and impunity and double standards should be avoided.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said measures to eliminate international terrorism must strictly abide by the United Nations Charter and the principles of international law, must avoid double standards, and must refrain from linking terrorism with any specific civilization, ethnic group or religion. Parallel efforts were necessary in prevention and in punishment, with particular emphasis on prevention. A legal framework within the United Nations system for the elimination of international terrorism had basically taken shape with 13 international anti-terrorism conventions.
He said his Government supported the drafting of a new, comprehensive convention against terrorism, in order to further improve the legal framework, and hoped that countries would show political will in seeking a solution in a cooperative and constructive approach. It also supported the convening of a high-level conference on counter-terrorism, when conditions were ripe. China had acceded to 11 of the 13 international conventions on terrorism and had signed the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
He said that, in 2001, China had adopted an amendment to its criminal law that provided for punishment of several terrorist crimes. The 2007 Anti-Money-Laundering Law had established the legal framework for the prevention of terrorist financing. He went on to describe measures to prevent terrorist acts during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, saying that, among other things, relevant departments had strengthened the work of collecting terrorism-related information, had foiled several terrorist schemes and, in the end, had succeeded in avoiding any interruption of the Games by terrorist acts.
ADEL HAMOUD HAMOUD AL-SHEIKH ( Yemen) condemned all acts of terrorism and said the international community must now eliminate the threat. The phenomenon must not be tied with any religion, State or culture. It was foreign to his culture. Terrorism arose from root causes such as social exclusion, and it was made worse by the prevalence of misperceptions about ethnicity, religions and cultures. Those conditions made a fertile ground for terrorism. Terrorism must be identified wherever it existed and the root causes must be addressed. The distinction must also be clarified between terrorism and the legitimate right of people to fight against oppression.
The dialogue among civilizations was a basic element in the global strategy to counter terrorism by fostering tolerance, he said. His country had taken steps to counter terrorism by closing down schools that furthered ideologies promoting terrorism. But the fight against terrorism must not violate human rights. A renewal of terrorist activities was on the rise. The sources of financing must be monitored. An international centre on terrorism should be established and all anti-terrorists activities must win support, as long as the actions were within the framework of the United Nations and international instruments. His country was in the process of adapting national legislation to bring it in line with those instruments. Adoption of the comprehensive convention would help close the current legislative gaps.
FRANCIS BUTAGIRA ( Uganda) commended the work of the Security Council’s 1540 Committee in relation to preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. However, he said real progress in global nuclear disarmament would be secure only when no nuclear arms were left available to terrorist groups. A reprehensible dumping of toxic waste material, such as that occurring off the coast of Somalia, could pose the greater danger of nuclear terrorism if it constituted an arsenal for terrorists in quest of weapons of mass destruction. The piracy being conducted in the region could be the conduit for delivery of arms. Incidentally, he added, piracy bordered very closely on terrorism, but, since there was as yet no definition of terrorism, the old term would have to be applied.
If the international community wanted to have a meaningful fight against terrorism, he continued, it must be prepared to take the hard decisions, including the assigning of a comprehensive definition to terrorism. That would expose terrorists for what they were; they would not be able to hide under cover of a legitimate struggle. Terrorism was a cancer that would spread to the whole body if left unattended.
VIKTAR SHAUTSOU ( Belarus) said terrorism could not be justified for any reason. It could be eliminated only through collective efforts at the regional and international levels. He called for the broadest possible effort against it. As a country which had ratified 13 of the international terrorism instruments, Belarus strove to carry out constructive work with all three of the relevant Security Council committees.
However, he continued, as the main deliberative body of the United Nations, the work of the General Assembly also needed to be enhanced in that regard. In particular, a draft comprehensive convention on terrorism needed to be concluded, by the charge given to the Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism in resolution 51/210.
The final draft comprehensive convention should contain a distinction between terrorism and the fight of people for self-determination. This distinction could be made by recognizing international humanitarian law in the preamble of the draft convention; international humanitarian law should be established as a precedent for fighting terrorism. High-level conferences could be held to further deliberation on the convention or other issues related to terrorism that were not associated with the draft.
HJALMAR W. HANNESON ( Iceland) said the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy was an important step in combating terrorism. He commended the work of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and its nine specialized working groups. The better Member States organized and cooperated, the more difficult it would become for the terrorists to operate. Although the 16 international anti-terrorism conventions and protocols, and the 14 regional conventions, constituted an arsenal to fight different aspects of terrorism, more remained to be done. The Ad Hoc Committee had met in February to continue discussion on the comprehensive convention and the convening of a high-level conference; he expressed confidence that progress would be made in that regard in the near future.
Drawing attention to the “fundamental and far-reaching” work of the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies, he said the Council resolutions dealing with terrorism and the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee were probably the most direct ways available to the United Nations system to harmonize the efforts of the Member States. He looked forward to more transparency, closer cooperation and more effective implementation of those obligations in the future. The only acceptable measures to eliminate international terrorism were those that respected the fundamental principles of the United Nations, including respect for human rights, humanitarian law and refugee law. “If we abandon these principles,” he said, “the terrorists will have succeeded in harming the very foundations of this most important Organization in the world.”
IRENE KASYANJU (United Republic of Tanzania) welcomed the initiative to institutionalize the Implementation Task Force within the Secretariat for overall coordination and coherence in the system. She said the United Nations should employ its advantages in mobilizing international assistance to developing countries in all areas of capacity-building so that States could increase their capacity to prevent terrorism. States must do their part and make use of assistance in making a difference in the implementation of the Strategy. And, since terrorism was a “mutating phenomenon” that took different forms and manifestations in different situations, the counter-strategies and tactics used must be adapted accordingly to countries and regions. Her country was tightening its national legislation to close loopholes and safeguard human rights.
KIM HYUN-CHONG ( Republic of Korea) said the international community must call for a comprehensive approach to countering terrorism with the Global Strategy as an important framework. Establishing the international legal framework for States to implement as part of national legislation was an important component in the fight against terrorism; the comprehensive convention would go a long way towards filling current gaps. The relevant international bodies should be mobilized to help implement the Strategy into national instruments. States must assume their responsibilities in that regard. He said his country was a party to 12 of the 16 terrorist conventions and protocols, and would be a party to the convention related to the prevention of terrorists acquiring nuclear materials, just as soon as national legislation had been brought into compliance.
MAZEN ADI (Syrian Arab Republic) said terrorism was a criminal, aggressive, unjust act, which targeted the property of innocents and threatened national sovereignty. An international definition of terrorism had to be established to delineate between terrorist acts and people struggling for the right to self-determination. He noted that dozens of Member States had gained their independence through such struggles and had become an effective member of international life. Some people were trying to include these acts of struggle under the definition of terrorism, largely due to the actions of Israel, which began in 1976, when it occupied the Syrian Golan. Israel had displaced people from their homes by forming their own illegal settlements on Syrian territory. Israel’s actions were organized State terrorism, as recognized by the international community.
As a country that had ratified 12 international instruments on terrorism, the Syrian Arab Republic hoped the comprehensive convention on terrorism would be concluded expeditiously. The Syrian Arab Republic had already acceded to several regional agreements, including those of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and Arab States. However, the United Nations legal arsenal to combat terrorism would not be complete without an agreement dealing with State terrorism, which was the most dangerous form of terrorism against peoples and State sovereignty. He said terrorism should not be tied to any one race, religion, culture or nationality.
SHAFI AL-OTAIBI ( Saudi Arabia) said his country was targeted by terrorists and suffered greatly because of terrorist operations. That was why, at the local level, Saudi Arabia had launched a successful strategy aimed to dry up sources of funding for terrorism. Combating terrorism was also a basic subject taught in some academic curricula in Saudi Arabia.
On the international level, he said, Saudi Arabia had actively contributed to the international effort to uproot terrorism. Saudi Arabia was one of the first States to accede to most international agreements on combating terrorism, including the Gulf Council Agreement to Combat Terrorism, the similar agreement by the League of Arab States in 1989, and the OIC Agreement on the matter.
Recalling the United Nations conference held in Riyadh in 2005, he said efforts to establish an international centre were largely supported by Member States. In that regard, he hoped the current session would lead to the adoption of the proposal to form the centre, which could link specialized and regional centres to combat terrorism with a central database. This database could be used to track down and intercept terrorists and their organizations, and it might lead to training programmes to combat terrorism and to the sharing of experiences towards drafting national legislation. He said he supported the implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, noting that terrorism should not be linked to one race, culture or religion.
SANSANEE SAHUSSARUNGSI ( Thailand) said the new and complex forms of terrorist acts left great legal gaps that could not be filled by the current counter-terrorism sectoral treaties. A universal instrument on counter-terrorism to fill those gaps and supplement the current treaties must be concluded as a top priority. While much work remained regarding language that needed more clarity, the convention would be an effective tool for combating international terrorism once it went into force.
She said the unresolved issue on the exclusion clause, the current article 18, should not be drafted in such a way that the convention made changes or created new international humanitarian law standards other than those existing under customary international law, or those set out in the treaties to which the relevant countries were parties. In other words, the integrity of international humanitarian law must be preserved and respected. The right to self-determination should be understood and interpreted in accordance with the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
She said that -– further to what had already been said by Viet Nam, on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations -- the 2007 ASEAN Convention on Counter-Terrorism was an effective tool. As an example, it ensured that political motives did not play into extradition understandings. The prevention and suppression of financing was another important component of the fight against terrorism. A “proceeds of crime act” was being drafted in Thailand, which was a comprehensive package of measures to disrupt organized crime gangs and deprive them of financing gains, thereby strangling the flows of funds into terrorist hands. The forthcoming universal and effective instrument in the form of a comprehensive convention would be welcome.
CRISTIANO DOS SANTOS ( Mozambique), reiterating his condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, said the Global Strategy was an important measure in the worldwide effort to combat international terrorism. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime played a crucial role in helping States implement the Strategy. Among the most useful recommendations were those that deal with the need to mobilize increased financial resources from Member States, as well as from the regular budget, to allow the Office to meet the challenge of increasing demand for technical assistance. States involved in negotiating the comprehensive convention must now demonstrate genuine political will and resolve all outstanding issues in a constructive approach towards an effective legal instrument as part of the framework for combating terrorism.
Mr. NAJEEB ( Oman) said international concern over terrorism was growing in size because it threatened the safety of citizens throughout the world. Oman had abided to Security Council resolutions and other relevant resolutions. In addition, the Sultanate of Oman had formed a national committee to combat terrorism and had examined relevant treaties on the matter. At the international level, Oman had also acceded to 10 international agreements related to combating terrorism. However, reaching a comprehensive convention on the matter relied on developing an accurate definition of terrorism and identifying its root causes. Of particular importance was distinguishing between terrorism and peoples’ struggles for self-determination.
The fight against terrorism could not be limited to a particular race, culture or religion, he said.
Rather, it affected everyone. Greater efforts needed be made to combat terrorism in the spirit of fairness. To that end, Oman supported the convening of a high-level conference on the matter and forming an international centre for combating it under the auspices of the United Nations.
ISMAIL CHEKKORI ( Morocco) said the scope and intensity of terrorist acts in ever new forms transcended the ability of unilateral actions to address the threats. Any association of terrorism with any nation, religion or ethnicity was entirely unacceptable. Terrorists rejected all religions and beliefs and such prejudicial views only inflamed the cause of terrorists. If the comprehensive convention were to be concluded, States would be able to adapt national legislation so as to implement the Global Strategy. The international community should “brainstorm” about how to adapt the Strategy to direct more speedily with emerging aspects of terrorism such as the use of cutting edge technologies. Any measures adopted in implementing the Strategy must fall within the framework of the international conventions protecting human rights. The international centre should be established, as proposed by Saudi Arabia, and a global code of conduct adopted on conducting the global war on terror, as Tunisia had proposed.
NAMIRA NABIL NEGM ( Egypt) said it was imperative that international cooperation be aimed at assisting developing countries to build capacities to counter terrorism and to ensure that national laws respected rules of human rights, justice and the rule of law, as did national authorities. Further, either the negotiation process on article 18 of the comprehensive convention should be reinvigorated or the definition of terrorist acts in article 2 should be reconsidered. The aim would be to affirm a distinction between the terrorist act and legitimate acts in accordance with international humanitarian law exercised by national liberation movements. It would also relate to the incrimination of acts committed by States against innocent civilians while exercising State terrorism.
TOMOHIRO MIKANAGI ( Japan) said that finalizing the comprehensive convention would provide a clearer legal basis for States to enhance cooperation on combating terrorism. The new coordinator’s proposal was a constructive effort in bridging the gap between views. All States should exercise utmost flexibility for early conclusion of the draft convention. The question of a high-level conference should be taken up once the draft instrument was finalized. Also, while the comprehensive convention was concluded, the existing legal framework must be consolidated. His country had concluded 13 conventions and protocols. It held annual seminars in cooperation with the United Nations Drug and Crime Office, aimed at increasing accessions to the instruments related to terrorism.
ILAHIRI DJEDJE ( Côte d’Ivoire) said that, as a State emerging from a long military and political crisis, Côte d’Ivoire condemned international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. It was for the Sixth Committee to ensure that terrorist behaviour be fought at the international level. Thus, he called for the conclusion of the draft comprehensive convention on the matter and for convening a high-level conference on terrorism. Finalizing the convention would be essential to strengthening the legal framework for counter-terrorism initiatives. However, this fight against terrorism should be conducted in strict adherence to international law. In that regard, addressing the root causes of terrorism was essential.
U SAW HLA MIN ( Myanmar) spoke of the need to ensure that the root causes of terrorism were determined by addressing the matter in conformity with international law. Accordingly, acts of terrorism should not be attributed to any religion, race, culture or ethnic group. In that connection, remaining differences among Member States regarding the scope of the comprehensive draft convention on the matter should be resolved during the present session of the General Assembly.
He said that, being a State party to 11 counter-terrorism instruments, Myanmar had submitted five reports to the Security Council, pursuant to resolution 1373, providing comprehensive information on measures to combat terrorism, including border control, aviation security and maritime security. In addition, the effectiveness of the counter-terrorism strategy relied on denying terrorists access to resources, recognizing measures against money laundering and financing for terrorist as of utmost importance. In regard to its own counter-terrorism efforts, it was regrettable that Myanmar was initially included in the list of Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories, although Myanmar had been de-listed in 2006.
On a bilateral level, he said, Myanmar had established a border liaison office at the Myanmar-China border checkpoint. Arrangements were also being made to establish similar offices at the Myanmar-India and Myanmar-Thailand border checkpoints. Regionally, Myanmar had signed the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Convention on Counter-Terrorism and had been participating in corresponding meetings.
SIN SON HO (People’s Democratic Republic of Korea) said the war on terrorism had become a political tool in the hands of those exercising State terrorism. That phenomenon should be given closer attention and the United Nations should conduct a thorough investigation on actions that had been taken to date in the name of fighting terrorism. The United States had encroached on the territories of sovereign States in claiming to be fighting terrorism. No State should be allowed to conduct a war that did not respect international principles. The emphasis should be on addressing the root causes of terrorism, such as exploitation, poverty and social exclusion. Fairness in international relations should be promoted. A high-level conference should be held so as to discuss how to combat terrorism. His country was guided by the principles of goodwill and peace. It had acceded to international instruments related to terrorism and was committed to a safe and peaceful world.
ZUNJIE CHONG ( Singapore) noted that the Washington Post had reported (on 18 April this year) that in 2007 there were 658 suicide bombing attacks across the world. Terrorism still very much threatened the world and, in many instances, perpetrators did not work in isolation. Increasingly, terrorists worked in well-organized networks of cells, with groups and individuals spread all over the world. As terrorism cut across national, geographic, religious and ethnic boundaries, it became a security challenge to all Governments. Transnational terrorism was not a passing menace but a long-term peril with deep ideological roots. His country had adopted a “multi-ministry network” approach that integrated the work of separate bodies to counter radical ideology and to rehabilitate those with such ideologies when appropriate. The Global Strategy was the way to go forward on fighting terrorism.
ESHAGH ALEHABIB ( Iran) said terrorism could not be eliminated without an address of its root causes. In fighting terrorism, however, attention should be paid to all the ways terrorist groups and elements could pursue their dangerous activities, including through the Internet, where they could identify potential targets, gain easy access to images and exact maps of infrastructure facilities, State facilities and other public-use spaces. The link between terrorism and drug trafficking must also be given consideration. All attempts to “foul” any religion, ethnicity or culture by linking them with terrorism must be rejected. Initiatives to promote dialogue were welcome. The principles and true teachings of Islam rejected aggression, prohibited killing of innocent people and placed value on peace, compassion and tolerance. The negotiating parties on the comprehensive convention must try to resolve the outstanding issues, but they must not compromise or prejudice the established provisions of international humanitarian law.
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