COOPERATION BETWEEN STATES IN ANTI-TERRORISM EFFORTS FOCUS OF LEGAL COMMITTEE DEBATE ON COUNTER-MEASURES

9 October 2008
GA/L/3341

COOPERATION BETWEEN STATES IN ANTI-TERRORISM EFFORTS FOCUS OF LEGAL COMMITTEE DEBATE ON COUNTER-MEASURES

9 October 2008
General Assembly
GA/L/3341
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly

Sixth Committee

4th Meeting (AM)


COOPERATION BETWEEN STATES IN ANTI-TERRORISM EFFORTS


FOCUS OF LEGAL COMMITTEE DEBATE ON COUNTER-MEASURES


Further Calls for Completion

Of Convention to Fill Gaps in Current Agreements


As the Sixth Committee (Legal) concluded its two-day debate on measures to combat international terrorism, Norway’s representative called the conclusion of the comprehensive convention on the issue of “utmost importance” for establishing a framework for assistance and cooperation between States.


Finalizing the comprehensive convention would not be the final answer to terrorism, he said, and would not be the international community’s only response.  But it would complete the framework in which the existing sectoral conventions were initial elements, and it would fill gaps those conventions did not cover.  Finally, it would reaffirm international unity in condemning terrorism.


Malaysia’s representative said the Global Strategy against terrorism needed to be updated and a central element was the conclusion of the comprehensive convention.  A high-level conference should be convened for finding solutions to broader political issues related to terrorism.  The representative of Sri Lanka said the need for a comprehensive legal regime to deal with the “growing menace”, could not be overemphasized.  Clear policies needed to be evolved that left no room for mis-classification of terrorism into “tolerable” and “intolerable” categories.


Also calling for completion of the comprehensive convention, as a matter of “urgency”, the representative of Burkina Faso spoke of the need to solidify the legal framework to fight terrorism by closing loopholes for evolving activities.  Stating that terrorists were intent on destabilizing his country, Afghanistan’s delegate said capacity-building was an essential element in helping countries, such as his, to strengthen efforts in fighting terrorist elements.


Iraq’s representative warned that counter-terrorist measures must be in line with international instruments.  Regardless of the “heinousness” of terrorist crimes, there was no purpose in fighting evil if it debased the society fighting it.  The representative of Qatar also reaffirmed the need to respect human rights, calling for a clear definition of terrorism to be included in the comprehensive convention to distinguish it from peoples’ rights to self-determination.


The speaker for Cameroon said adoption of the Global Strategy had shown that humanity would not be held hostage by the evil of terrorism.  But terrorism could be defeated only if certain conditions were met.  There had, first, to be agreement on a clear definition of terrorism, and after 10 years of work, consensus must be found on the comprehensive convention.


Also speaking today were the representatives of Senegal, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, Angola, Libya, Mongolia, Ecuador, Mali, Bahrain, Nicaragua, Kuwait, the Maldives and the United States.


The representatives of Cuba and Venezuela spoke in exercise of the right of reply.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 10 October, when debate is expected to begin on the criminal accountability of United Nations officials on mission.


Background


The Sixth Committee (Legal) met this morning to continue its discussion on measures to eliminate international terrorism.  (For background information, see Press Release GA/L/3340 of 8 October.)


Statements


SALIOU NIANG DIENG (Senegal), associating himself with previous statements on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed Senegal’s total condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.  He said he remained deeply concerned about the proliferation of terrorism, noting that despite all efforts against the scourge, it continued.  Because terrorism remained one of the most serious threats to peace, security and human dignity, the international community must be mobilized to deal with it.  A commitment of all involved, without regard to race, religion, origin or nationality, was needed.


He said international cooperation in a more dynamic and conclusive fashion would ensure that commitments to combat terrorism were effective.  The coordinating role of the special Counter-Terrorism Task Force was important.  Noting that Senegal had ratified 13 of the 16 international conventions on terrorism, he said he welcomed the institutionalization of the Task Force.  In addition, the international legal framework would be further strengthened through the conclusion of a draft comprehensive convention on terrorism, in compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law.


ALI AL-BAKER ( Qatar) said terrorism was one of the gravest dangers threatening international peace and security.  He emphasized that it should not be linked to any one religion, nationality, civilization or culture.  Although the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy had been adopted, with its four basic strategic elements and putting the responsibility on States to implement measures to combat terrorism, it would still need to be updated from time to time.  Moreover, the Strategy could be translated into reality only when States adopted the relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions relating to terrorism.


Observing that combating terrorism must be conducted in accordance with human rights law and international humanitarian law, he said the finalization of a draft convention against it was important; the draft should include a comprehensive definition of terrorism, distinguishing between terrorism and peoples’ rights to self-determination.  He said Qatar had acceded to 12 of the international terrorism instruments, as well as many regional agreements, such as those of the OIC, the Arab Group and the Gulf Council.  At the international level, there was a need to continue efforts to enhance dialogue and understanding, to avoid the unjust targeting of certain religions and cultures, and to focus on four particular goals:  achieving development affecting all people of the world; supporting the concept of equal sovereignty; improving the working methods of subsidiary bodies of the Security Council to deal with terrorism; and putting more focus on the importance of the media to enhance dialogue and understanding among different cultures and religions.


GLENNA CABELLO DE DABOIN ( Venezuela) said her country had always, and categorically, condemned acts of terrorism.  It had signed the major instruments against terrorism, both international and regional.  For the international community to fight terrorism effectively, however, appropriate justice must be meted out.  “Words must match deeds,” she said.  Venezuela was still waiting for the United States to respond to a request to hand over a terrorist who was walking free.  Defining terrorism would help in the fight against it.  One guiding principle was that people exercising their right to independence could never be considered committing an act of terrorism.  Other guiding principles included respect for the sovereignty of States and non-interference in their internal affairs.  All actions taken by diplomats to interfere in the affairs of other States, and to influence their direction, should be repudiated.


RIADH AL-ADHAMI ( Iraq) said it was sadly obvious that the Ad Hoc Committee had been unable to elaborate a draft comprehensive convention.  That did not have to stand in the way of finalizing such a document.  All terrorist acts were condemned by his country, regardless of where they occurred, who committed them and what justification was used, particularly since Iraq had suffered from such acts.  He said all necessary measures must be taken at the national level to fight terrorism, especially in areas that could become havens for the commission of terrorist acts elsewhere.  Proper justice must also be served against those individuals.  All counter-terrorist measures must be in line with international instruments, regardless of the heinousness of the crimes committed, otherwise there was no purpose in fighting evil.  Double standards in fighting terrorism, and the prejudiced attribution of terrorism to particular groups, contributed to its spread.


AASMUND ERIKSEN ( Norway) said conclusion and adoption of the comprehensive convention was of the utmost importance.  It would not be the final answer to the threat posed by international terrorism, nor would it be the international community’s only response, but it would complete the framework in which the existing sectoral conventions were the initial elements, and it would serve to fill gaps those conventions did not cover.  It would also establish a framework for assistance and cooperation between States in all cases of international terrorism.


Further, he said, adoption of a comprehensive convention would reaffirm the unity of the international community in condemning terrorism.  All States should mobilize the political will to reach agreement.  The current proposal presented by the facilitators could provide the foundation on which consensus could be built; once that were done, a high-level conference on terrorism could be convened to take stock, provide technical assistance and enhance cooperation among States.


H.M.G.S. PALIHAKKARA ( Sri Lanka) said the meeting was taking place against the backdrop of increasing frequency and intensity of acts of terrorism, causing the grave loss of innocent human lives, and threatening peace and security worldwide.  Terrorism, he said, caused economic and political instability in States, and destroyed the traditional ethos on which States and societies were founded.  It sought to destabilise societies and subvert established order, while denying people their basic rights and freedoms.  Through its destructive, transnational networks of fundraising, smuggling and illicit arms, terrorism had assumed international dimensions.  It was time to recognize the growing linkages between terrorism and various criminal activities.


He said the need for a comprehensive legal regime to deal with this “growing menace” could not be overemphasized, and he urged the early conclusion of a comprehensive convention on terrorism.  He said the proposal made by the Coordinator, Maria Telallian, contained the elements of a compromise solution to differences of view, and Member States needed to demonstrate the political will for conclusion of the convention.  This was vital to the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  It was important that clear policies were evolved, backed by a corresponding international legal regime, which left no room for mis-classification of terrorism into “tolerable” and “intolerable” categories.


MARIO DE AZEVEDO CONSTANTINO ( Angola) noted the progress already achieved by the Security Council, through the Global Strategy and by the 13 international conventions elaborated on terrorism, but said that, for the Global Strategy to succeed, the international community still needed to be galvanized on several measures.  These should include:  creating a solid legal basis for common actions; dissuading people from resorting to terrorism or supporting it; developing State capacity to defeat terrorism; and defending human rights.


He said States should be held accountable for their commitment to meet their international obligations to combat terrorism.   Angola had ratified the African Convention on Terrorism and was taking measures to ratify the 13 conventions on counter-terrorism activities.  The integration of these into domestic law would complete the new criminal law framework and enhance Angola’s institutional capacity to prevent and combat terrorism.  To strengthen that capacity, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) would shortly hold, in Chuanda, alongside the Angolan Government, a workshop for judges, prosecutors and lawyers.


GIADALLA ETTALHI ( Libya) said the elimination of terrorism was an objective of Libya, which had fallen victim to various acts of terrorism.  There was agreement among Member States that it must be eliminated.  The argument today was about the methods to be used; unified means had to go beyond partial actions and treatments.  Although the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy had been adopted, consensus was still needed on international and national measures to eliminate terrorism.  In particular, he called for a United Nations Anti-Corruption Convention to eliminate money-laundering and other acts associated with terrorism.  He said he supported finalizing a balanced and comprehensive convention on terrorism that recognized the right of peoples to struggle against foreign occupation.  Overlooking this right was an attempt to extend the life of injustice, occupation and control.


HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia) said the Global Strategy needed to be updated in response to the current situation.  A central element was for the conclusion of the comprehensive convention.  That should be done quickly.  The proposals in the “non-paper” before the Committee, in relation to draft article 18, were useful suggestions for a way forward; they addressed concerns over the possible grant of impunity to military forces of States.  Further, a high-level conference should be convened under the auspices of the United Nations to facilitate the finding of solutions to the broad political issues underlying efforts to combat terrorism.


Reviewing national legislative measures that had been taken to fight terrorism, he said his country was the depositary to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Treaty for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.  Malaysia was also active in regional capacity-building with the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT).  In collaboration with the UNODC, it had organized interregional workshops on aspects of terrorism, including legal cooperation to fight it and financing.


VICTOR TCHATCHOUWO ( Cameroon) said Member States had become aware that the tentacles of terrorism reached everywhere.  Thirteen instruments against terrorism had been elaborated, but terrorism remained one of the most serious situations faced by humanity.  It was intolerable.  Concerted action on the part of the international community was imperative.  The international community, through the United Nations, must stand as one against the phenomenon.


He said the adoption of the Strategy last year had shown that humanity would not be held hostage by the evil of terrorism, but that instrument had to be used wisely.  The entire strategy must be applied as an integrated whole.  The Review conducted this year had given new impetus to the Strategy.  The Implementation Task Force must be empowered to do more.  Terrorism could be defeated, he said, but only if certain conditions were met:  if there were agreement on a clear definition; if consensus was found on the comprehensive convention after 10 years of work; if states were helped to develop their capacities; if international law was respected; if a clash of civilizations was avoided; if root causes of terrorism were addressed; and if international cooperation was strengthened.  While international cooperation was important, every State must fully shoulder its responsibilities by implementing existing instruments and submitting timely reports about their activities.


MOHAMMAD ERFANI AYOOB ( Afghanistan) said the terrorist elements in his country, including Al-Qaida, Tainan, extremists and other criminal groups, were focused on destabilizing Afghanistan and trying to deprive the population of social, economic and basic human rights.  Terrorism was never justified and was a serious global threat to international peace and security.  Combating terrorism required serious and coordinated global actions.  Delegates must resolve the pending issues and conclude the draft comprehensive convention to create an effective instrument to fight terrorism.


He said his country had joined all existing international conventions and protocols against terrorism and it was strongly committed to implementing the relevant United Nations resolutions.  The pillar of capacity-building in the Global Strategy was an essential element in helping countries, such as his, to strengthen efforts in their fight against terrorism.  The proposal to establish a centre for the combat of international terrorism under United Nations auspices should be adopted.


GANKHUYAG SODNOM ( Mongolia) said that since each and every person, organization or State could fall victim to terrorism, this grave and global problem called for resolute global responses.  The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Plan of Action established a framework and presented a template, pivotal in guiding efforts by Member States and the United Nations to combat terrorism.  The review of the Strategy last September played a significant role in strengthening cooperation between Member States and the United Nations.


Citing a rapid growth in organized crime, illegal trafficking and corruption, he said the linkages between crime and terrorism needed to be more effectively addressed.   Mongolia had also been active in extending legal reform to its national laws; in 2004, for instance, Mongolia’s parliament adopted its own law on combating terrorism and, in 2006, enacted a law on combating money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.  It was Mongolia’s hope that negotiations of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism could be finalized before the end of this year.


DIEGO MOREJÓN ( Ecuador) said that, as well as jeopardizing international peace and security, terrorism endangered the stability, democracy, and economic and social development of all nations.  Noting that Ecuador had ratified nearly all of the international conventions, both globally and regionally, on terrorism, he said it had also reformed its penal code to include anti-terrorism conventions and adopted a special law on financing terrorism.  Ecuador had established a national agency on money-laundering and continued to combat trafficking in drugs by illegal groups.


He said Ecuador was especially committed to supporting victims of terrorism, and had taken measures to establish refugee status for some of these “vulnerable and forgotten” people.  He said Ecuador received more refugees than any State in the Western Hemisphere and therefore, despite international support, it had dedicated national financial resources towards protecting refugees.  He said it was time for the international community to show international resolve and to finally adopt a general convention against international terrorism.


BAKARY DOUMBIA ( Mali) said Mali remained committed to eliminating terrorism in all its forms, pointing out that it had acceded to the United Nations 2006 anti-terrorist strategy, and had ratified 12 of the 16 international instruments against terrorism.  At the national level, Mali had adopted a law on suppression of terrorism, which covered all offences defined in international legal instruments.  It included a chapter on funding terrorism and the extradition of those accused of perpetrating terrorist acts.


With regard to proliferation and illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, he said this scourge had dramatic consequences for African countries.  He spoke of recent instability in the north of Mali, and said a cross-border framework had been set up in the country to aid security factions through the exchange of information on criminal groups.  He noted that in Bamako, the country’s capital, a conference would be held shortly on security and development in sub-Saharan Africa.


NAJAH RASHID ( Bahrain) said her country supported the Global Strategy and its full implementation, but the concept of terrorism still lacked clarity without a definition.  The connection between the Strategy and the Security Council mechanisms addressing various aspects of terrorism must be tightened.  There should be only one centre in the United Nations for countering terrorism, in order to give States easy access.  Among the conventions related to terrorism, the one on preventing nuclear materials from falling into terrorist hands was of particular importance.


Stressing that while terrorism must not be linked to any religion or culture, it had become a major challenge confronting the world and threatening international peace and security.  It was entwined with other issues, such as nuclear proliferation and financing regulations.  Bahrain was party to 11 of 13 conventions related to terrorism, as well as to regional agreements.  It also cooperated and coordinated efforts with sister States, some in the context of the Gulf Cooperation Council.  The proposal for a centre to combat international terrorism should be adopted, and a high-level conference on terrorism should be held.


PAUL ROBERT TIENDRÉBÉOGO ( Burkina Faso) said progress had been made in the fight against terrorism, but there was a long way to go before the world was safe from terrorists.  Some individuals were committed to carrying out unspeakable acts with inhuman brutality against innocent civilians.  The comprehensive convention must be concluded as a matter of urgency.  That step would solidify the legal framework for fighting terrorism by closing up loopholes for the kinds of terrorist activities not presently covered.  Adoption of the comprehensive convention would also enable capacity-building activities to gain momentum and to be strengthened.  In the global war on terror, mechanisms for regional and subregional cooperation must be strengthened and efforts must also be undertaken to ensure there was no linking of terrorism with any religion or culture.


MARIO H. CASTELLÓN DUARTE ( Nicaragua) said he strongly, and unequivocally, condemned terrorism, including State terrorism.  In countering the trans-border phenomenon through the Global Strategy, respect for human rights and for rule of law were critical because terrorism already caused destruction, suffering, outrage and fear in innocent victims.  As a violation of the most fundamental human rights, terrorism made victims suffer directly and indirectly, when they lost loved ones.  Society itself was a victim because of terrorism’s attack on the rule of law and its undermining and demoralizing of society.


He said terrorism must not be associated with any religion or culture.  There must be no double standard applied in implementing the Global Strategy.  The root causes of terrorism must be identified, and contributing factors must be wiped out.  Imperialistic policies that fed the cause of terrorists must end.  The comprehensive convention must be concluded to fill legal gaps and to make a statement of international solidarity and unity.  In his country, he added, a new penal code had gone into effect in July to specifically address terrorism-related issues.


MOHAMMAD ABDULLAH AL-ATEEQI ( Kuwait) said that, while Kuwait rejected terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, it was important not to link terrorism and criminal acts to any particular religion, civilization or ethnic group.  At the national level, Kuwait had established a specialized unit for financial oversight and for the investigation of money-laundering and terrorism financing.  He called on States to adhere to the relevant international resolutions to combat terrorism, to avoid double standards in the application of international legitimacy, and to put an end to foreign occupation, injustice and encroachments on human rights.


He said Kuwait looked forward to the formulation of a comprehensive treaty against international terrorism, in which a clear legal definition was included, so as to distinguish between terrorism and the legitimate right of peoples to resist occupation.  He urged the United Nations to develop systematic standards for relief and assistance to distinguish between charitable non-profit foundations and associations, and illegal activities carried out by terrorist organizations.  There should also be clear and firm regulations against those who defamed religions, or incited ethnic or sectarian strife.


AHMED KHALEEL ( Maldives) said international terrorism was re-emerging with uglier manifestations in the most unexpected places, killing innocent people, including women and children.  He said particular attention must be paid to addressing the root causes of terrorism.  Combating terrorism at the international level was of utmost priority.  He said he supported both the implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the early conclusion of a draft comprehensive convention.


He said the spread of nuclear arms and the potential for their falling into the hands of terrorists was most alarming.  The Maldives had continued to advocate the need for effective multilateral cooperation to support small States in protecting their sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Although his country was party to almost all major conventions and protocols of the counter-terrorism regimes and was working in the context of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) on combating terrorism, he said small States like the Maldives often lacked the financial resources, military and intelligence capabilities to effectively combat international terrorism.  It was, therefore, the moral obligation of the entire international community to assist such States in times of need, without any bias.


JAMES B. DONOVAN ( United States) said no Member State or international organization was immune from the threat of international terrorism.  Therefore, all States had to work together to create a less permissive environment for terrorism.  Although all these acts were intolerable, suicide bombing and the taking of hostages were deplorable and had to be condemned.  As President George W. Bush stated in his 23 September address to the General Assembly, the United Nations and other multilateral organizations were needed more than ever.  By working together to meet this fundamental challenge of our time, we could create a more secure, prosperous and hopeful world.


Expressing appreciation for the efforts of the Secretariat to set up a Counter-Terrorism Task Force, he said the United States had provided more than $500,000 to support this effort.  The United States was poised to implement all four pillars of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and had funded numerous capacity-building initiatives to help Member States combat terrorism, in particular, in their efforts to investigate, identify and interdict the flow of money to terrorist groups.  Tackling poverty, unemployment, weak institutions and corruption would also help to combat terrorism around the world.  In that regard, those Member States that had the will but not the capacity to combat terrorism, needed to be provided the resources to do so.


Continuing, he also said combating terrorism largely depended on the coordination of various United Nations bodies and organs.  Accordingly, the United Nations should remain focused on finding concrete ways to enhance cooperation among different parts of the United Nations system to meet the common goal of eliminating terrorism; an international legal framework to deal with terrorism also needed to be strengthened.


Referring to statements made to the Committee by Cuba and Venezuela, he said a number of actions had been taken.  Cuba had called for the arrest of a suspected terrorist and the individual could not be brought to trial without substantial evidence to warrant his arrest.  Due legal process was in motion now.  The person had been apprehended, and his case was now pending.  Meanwhile, he lived in the United States without legal status and had restrictions placed on him, including reporting and monitoring requirements.  The “Cuban Five” agents of Cuba’s foreign intelligence service had all been convicted of committing crimes in the United States and were now serving prison terms.  None had denied being covert Cuban agents.


Rights of Reply


Speaking in right of reply, Cuba’s representative said she had not been clear.  The criminal referred to, who was “out free”, was a dangerous man and was a contrast to the situation of the Cuban Five Heroes, who were in prison.  It was shameful that five brave heroes were kept in prison for 10 years, while criminals were allowed to go free.  That was what happened to the citizens of a country that questioned the imperialist practices of the United States.  There was a long list of similar abuses.  The combat of terrorism began within one’s own borders.


The representative of Venezuela said it was public knowledge that the criminal her country wanted extradited by the United States was “out and about” on the streets, while the United States had not responded to the request.


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.