|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
2nd Meeting (PM)
General Assembly Legal Committee Hears Calls for Renewed Efforts
To Complete Comprehensive Convention against Terrorism
Debate Begins on Measures to Eliminate International ‘Scourge’
As the Sixth Committee (Legal) this afternoon took up the question of measures to eliminate international terrorism, Mexico’s representative on behalf of the Rio Group of countries was one of many delegations calling for a finalization of the comprehensive convention on terrorism as a way to strengthen the effectiveness of existing mechanisms.
Mexico’s delegate said the only possible way forward on finalizing and adopting the comprehensive convention was to accept the fact that a perfect text would not be attainable. All that could be done was to adopt the best text available at present. Stating that “the prevention of terror is as important as its repression” and that human rights and international standards must be respected, he called for the United Nations Global Strategy to be at the centre of efforts and for the convening a high-level summit on the matter.
Introducing the report of the Committee’s Working Group on the elaboration of the draft convention, the Group Chairman said the proposal currently on the table for addressing outstanding issues went the furthest ever in bridging the gap between diverging viewpoints. It was the best possible option for concluding the drafting of the convention. The issue of eliminating terrorism was probably “the most pernicious in current times”, she added. The international community awaited United Nations action and the Organization must not be seen as disappointing.
Viet Nam’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and as a non-permanent Security Council Member, and a Vice-chair of the Council’s Counter-Terror Committee, called for strengthening that Committee’s role in facilitating technical assistance and cooperation in counter-terrorism. He said there should be increased cooperation between law enforcement authorities in combating terrorism and related crimes.
New Zealand’s delegate, speaking also for Canada and Australia, noted that significant burdens were placed on small developing States in meeting international obligation in counter-terror activities. Countries in the Pacific Islands Forum were geographically vulnerable and limited in resources. A practical approach was needed for the region, along with capacity-building in such areas as transport and border security, elaboration of legal frameworks and development of law enforcement capabilities.
On behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Iran’s representative said he unequivocally condemned terrorism, including the form in which States were directly or indirectly involved. However, he added that terrorism should not be equated with the legitimate struggle of peoples for self-determination and it must not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group. Attributions should not be used to justify either terrorist or counter-terrorist measures.
As background, 13 universal instruments and three amendments against terrorism have been elaborated within the framework of the United Nations system. A 2006 Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy has been adopted to consolidate and enhance activities in connection with eliminating terrorism, including through implementation of the 1994 Declaration on terrorism.
The initiative of a comprehensive convention was first put forward in 2000 and its elaboration has been carried out at the Ad Hoc Committee, Working Group and Legal Committee levels. Other United Nations elements in countering terrorism include the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Also speaking today on behalf of regional groups were the representatives of Trinidad and Tobago for Caribbean Community (CARICOM); Tunisia for the African Group; Syria for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC); and Sweden for the European Union.
Speaking in their national capacities were the representatives of Uzbekistan, Costa Rica, Pakistan, Zambia, Cambodia, Liechtenstein, Russian Federation, Kenya, Jordan, Switzerland, Egypt, India and Thailand.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 7 October, to resume its consideration of the item.
The Sixth Committee (Legal) met this afternoon to begin its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism.
The Committee has before it a report of the General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee established by resolution A/51/210 of 17 December 1996 (document A/64/37) on the proceedings of the Ad Hoc Committee’s thirteenth session (New York, 29 June to 2 July this year). The document reviews the dates of formal and informal exchanges during the session with regard to both a draft comprehensive convention on terrorism and the question of convening a high-level conference on the matter. The recommendation contained in the report was that the Ad Hoc Committee would recommend that the Assembly’s Sixth Committee (Legal) would establish a working group during the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session with a view to finalizing the draft comprehensive convention and to continue discussing the question of convening the high-level conference.
The report contains two annexes. Annex I is an informal summary of views prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee Chair. On the fight against terrorism in general, the report states that delegations expressed support for the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and its first review in September 2008. Delegations also pointed out that the strategy was a living document that should be updated and examined regularly. Welcoming the outcome of the 2008 first International Symposium on support for victims of terrorism, delegations called for the question of victims to be included in the draft convention. Support was expressed for a Tunisian proposal to establish a global code of conduct in fighting terrorism and for a Saudi Arabian proposal to establish an international centre to combat international terrorism under the auspices of the United Nations.
On the draft comprehensive convention, the report says that delegations reiterated the importance of concluding the instrument and said the time was propitious for a solution that reflected common expectations and interests. Adoption would strengthen the moral authority of the United Nations. Discussion on outstanding issues should focus on the scope of application, notably on article 18. The point that the substance and integrity of international humanitarian law should be preserved could be an important frame of reference for discussion and could serve as the basis for reaching consensus. A number of proposals had been put forth with regard to a clear legal definition of terrorism and inclusion of the notion of “State terrorism”. A spirit of compromise should prevail to achieve a successful outcome during the current session. Unresolved issues could be further considered.
Annex II contains two reports on informal contacts in relation to the comprehensive convention, the first being a summary of the results of intersessional informal contacts and the other a summary of informal contacts during the session itself. In the former, the Coordinator of the draft said she had recalled in bilateral meetings that the essential role of lawyers in a legislative exercise was to project principles that sought to assure the continuing application of existing law operating alongside the principles elaborated in the convention. Notably, the convention was designed to serve as a law enforcement instrument and was not intended to apply in isolation from other rules of international law but rather as an additional building block in an already existing legal framework governing the conduct of relations among States.
The approach of exclusionary clauses was not without precedent and the need to have exclusions was not without factual or legal significance. Therefore, in the light of the precedents followed, the approach taken was beyond legal reproach and only the necessary political will needed to be garnered for a positive outcome.
In her summary of contacts during the session, the Coordinator reports that she underscored a number of considerations, including the fact that a package proposal had been tabled since 2007 with elements that were part of an overall package. Any attempt to slice the elements would affect the overall balance sought to be achieved. Further, the interpretation and application of the convention were the primary responsibility of the parties to the convention. It was part of functioning law and of legal argumentation that vague, obscure and indeterminate terms had their own dynamic and assumed concreteness, clarity and determinacy in specific situations once relevant authorities assumed their roles in interpretation and application.
Also before the Committee is the Secretary-General’s report on activities related to the elimination of international terrorism (document A/64/161 and Add.1). In it, he says 26 States responded by 31 May to his January call for information on national, international and regional actions towards the elimination of terrorism, with the additional response of the Republic of Korea contained in the addendum. Also responding by 30 June were 11 agencies, as well as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The report says that some States referred to information provided also to the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee. Information on workshops and training courses is also provided, along with information on the third edition of the publication related to international instruments on terrorism.
With regard to measures related to prevention and suppression of terrorism and on incidents caused by it, the report details actions taken by Andorra, Austria, Belarus, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Mexico, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Qatar, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Thailand.
In the section on information received from international organizations, the report begins with detailing actions taken by organizations in the United Nations system. Those include the International Civil Aviation Organization; the International Maritime Organization; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); and the World Bank. Other reporting organizations included the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL); the Organization of American States (OAS); the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW); and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.
Other sections of the report focus on the status of international legal instruments related to the prevention and suppression of international terrorism; tables on participation in pertinent international conventions; an advisory of the Ad Hoc Committee’s meeting; and information on workshops and training courses related to anti-terrorist activities. A status report on the third edition of the publication related to the international terrorism instruments being jointly prepared by the Legal Office and the Office on Drugs and Crime was also included. The French version was published in February 2008, the English in May 2008, and the Spanish version was expected in September 2009.
ROHAN PERERA, Chairman of Working Group, introduced the report of the thirteenth session of the Ad Hoc Committee, and reviewed the chapters and annexes of the report. He noted that the negotiations during the last session of the Ad Hoc Committee were encouraging, the tone of the meeting was positive and the delegates were determined to move towards finalization of the draft convention.
Article 18, however, containing elements which need to be bridged for a successful conclusion, remained key to moving ahead. The text proposed by the Coordinator, with additional clarifications offered by delegations, showed promise. In the last two years of this nine-year process that proposal had gone the furthest in bridging the gap between diverging viewpoints; the proposal which was on the table was the best possible option in reaching the goal of concluding the draft convention.
He concluded by reminding the Committee that the international community awaited a successful conclusion to the long negotiating process. The issue of eliminating terrorism was probably “the most pernicious in current times”. The United Nations could not be seen as failing in that vital task.
JIM McKAY (New Zealand), speaking also for Canada and Australia, said that terrorism was a deadly worldwide threat and had directly affected citizens of those countries. He recalled the July bombing of the hotel in Jakarta and yesterday’s suicide bombing of the United Nations World Food Programme office in Islamabad.
Supporting the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, he said comprehensive measures were critical to its success, and he urged delegations to meet their obligations under Security Council resolutions. He called for the Committee set up by the Council’s resolution 1267 (1999) to improve its procedures for the listing and delisting of terrorist entities. The Security Council, in developing counter-terrorism obligations, should keep in mind that meeting such international obligations put significant burdens on small developing States, in particular the Pacific Island Forum, which faced multiple security challenges with limited governmental resources. A practical approach was needed for those countries.
He highlighted the efforts of Australia’s counter-terrorism capacity-building efforts in South-East Asia, and the collaborative work it was doing with its neighbours in a wide range of activities, among them transport and border security, terrorism financing and legal frameworks. Through funding programmes, he said, New Zealand was developing counter-terrorism initiatives, such as law enforcement capabilities and the drafting of national legislation in South-East Asia.
LE LUONG MINH (Viet Nam), speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said those States strove to strengthen the integration and reinforcement role of the group, as a driving force in coping with regional global challenges. The focus was to intensify international cooperation to address non-traditional security issues, particularly those involved in terrorism. A political-security community “Blueprint” adopted by the Thailand Summit of ASEAN in March called for concrete actions to be taken towards the entry into force of the ASEAN counter-terrorism convention in the current year, and for the implementation of development initiatives aimed at addressing the root causes of terrorism. He said a special ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, to be held in the Philippines in December, would promote Inter-faith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace.
Detailing other measures being implemented in the region, he said a work plan for counter-terrorism and transnational crimes for the period between 2009 and 2010 had been adopted in July by the ASEAN Regional Forum. This would focus its counter-terrorism activities in areas providing most added value, given the geographic focus and the participants. Illicit drug trafficking, bioterrorism, biosecurity, cybersecurity and cyberterrorism would be priorities. Another June regional conference in the Philippines had brought together regional actors with counter-terrorism institutions, including the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Directorate and the Office on Drugs and Crime, INTERPOL, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
He said regional law enforcement authorities continued cooperative efforts in combating terrorism and related crimes. A conference in his country in May had agreed to further step up cooperation in training and information sharing, and implementation of strategies for detection, deterrence, rehabilitation, and de-radicalization, as well as community engagement in tackling terrorism and providing assistance in breaking the financing of terrorism. He said that as a Security Council Member, and a Vice-Chairman of the Council’s Terrorism Committee, he called for strengthening the committee’s role in facilitating technical assistance and cooperation in counter-terrorism.
CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico), speaking for the Rio Group of countries, said terrorism was a plague that put countries at risk at the national level and destabilized entire regions. It was a tremendous source of tension in the lives of people and impacted thousands and millions of lives all around the globe. Perpetrators of such actions must be brought to justice.
Only intense international cooperation would defeat terror, he said. The United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy must be at the centre of actions taken to counter terrorism, dealing with terrorism from a holistic approach and addressing the conditions conducive to its spread. Measures were needed to increase capacity-building and for strengthening of the United Nations role to achieve goals. Finally, the Strategy emphasized the need to protect human rights and the rule of law while fighting terrorism. The work of the Implementation Task Force was central to building national and regional capacities for undertaking the efforts to that end. Regional groups played an important role in that regard.
Also, he said “the prevention of terror is as important as its repression”. The factors that bred terrorist acts much be determined and eliminated. To prevent the financing and execution of such acts, all States should undertake judicial cooperation and information sharing, both with others and between their own judicial, financial and police intelligence bodies. However, human rights must be a central consideration in all efforts, and international standards must be respected if the support of the international community was to be assured. Actions outside those standards were illegal.
In conclusion, he said the finalizing of the comprehensive convention was vital now for strengthening the effectiveness of existing mechanisms. The only possible way forward was to accept the fact that a perfect text would not be attainable. All that could be done was to adopt the best text available at present. The high-level Summit should be convened.
EDEN CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago), for the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed regret that, after 13 sessions, the Ad Hoc Committee had not successfully resolved outstanding issues. Recognizing the challenges, he affirmed CARICOM’s commitment to the Committee’s future work.
Reminding the Committee that the Caribbean had not been spared by terrorism, he recalled the hijacking and bombing of an airliner in the Caribbean Sea three decades ago.
He said cooperation towards a multilateral approach was the only viable response to a common enemy, and noted that small developing countries, such as those in CARICOM, needed the support of the international community in capacity-building measures and the exchange of best practices if they were to become effective partners in the fight against terrorism. Regional workshops on relevant counter-terrorism methods held this past year supported the implementation of necessary measures in their region.
Despite limited resources, he added, the CARICOM countries continued to implement initiatives, such as the CARICOM Maritime and Air Space Security Cooperation Agreement, which provided cooperation between the law enforcement agencies of its member States. Further, CARICOM member countries were enacting domestic legislation to support their international obligations. The United Nations should continue to take the lead in setting international norms and rules in combating and eliminating terrorism worldwide.
GHAZI JAMAA (Tunisia), speaking for the African Group of Member States, said it was crucial to address the roots of terrorism, such as poverty, injustices, and denial of the right to self-determination of people under foreign occupation, if any challenge to international terrorism was to be successful. Stronger international cooperation in information sharing and capacity-building was also essential, and he said he appealed to Africa’s partners to provide support to the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism in Algiers. He noted the successful collaboration between the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate and the Centre, which he said had resulted in a series of regional workshops and seminars to identify common technical assistance.
He recalled that, with a history of experiencing terrorism, African States had adopted the then- Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention in 1999 to prevent and combat terrorism. This has been supplemented in 2002 by the adoption of a Plan of Action. However, he added, an international comprehensive legal document was necessary for regional success. An internationally recognized definition of “terrorism” that distinguished between terrorist acts and the struggle for self-determination by people under foreign occupation, therefore, needed to be established. He called for the convening of a United Nations high-level conference to formulate an international response to terrorism.
BASHAR JAAFARI (Syria), speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference, said that Group strongly condemned all acts and practices of terrorism and remained convinced that terrorism, irrespective of its motivation, objectives, forms and manifestations, committed by whomsoever and wherever, could never be justified. Terrorism should not be associated with any religion, race, faith, theology, values, culture, society or group. No religion or religious doctrine encouraged or inspired acts of terrorism and, thus, none should be portrayed as such. In the increasingly globalized world, understanding, harmony and building of bridges among cultures and peoples were needed more than ever.
He said that only through a coordinated approach would the international community’s fight against terrorism yield effective results. To achieve that objective, the OIC Group supported a comprehensive strategy to combat terrorism. Such a strategy must address the root causes of terrorism, including unlawful use of force, aggression, foreign occupation, festering international disputes, and the denial of the right of peoples living under foreign occupation to self-determination, as well as political and economic injustices, and political marginalization and alienation.
A distinction must be made between terrorism and the exercise of legitimate right of peoples to resist foreign occupation. That distinction was duly observed in international law, international humanitarian law, Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations and General Assembly resolution 46/51.
He said the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy constituted an ongoing effort and was a living document which should be updated and examined regularly; that strategy should be implemented in all its aspects. There should be a high-level conference to be held under the auspices of the United Nations to formulate a joint organized response of the international community to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and to conclude an agreed definition of terrorism. The Group also reaffirmed its support for the proposal by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia to establish, under the United Nations, an international centre to combat terrorism.
ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), speaking for the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Movement unequivocally condemned terrorism as criminal and rejected it in all its forms and manifestations, by whomever and against whomsoever it was committed, including those in which States were directly or indirectly involved. However, he added, terrorism should not be equated with the legitimate struggle of peoples under colonial or alien domination and foreign occupation for self-determination and national liberation. The brutalization of people remaining under foreign occupation should continue to be denounced as the gravest form of terrorism. Terrorism, furthermore, could not and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic groups, and those attributions should not be used to justify terrorism or counter-terrorism measures that included, among other things, profiling and intrusion on privacy.
He said the Non-Aligned Movement rejected actions and measures, including the use or threat of use of force, against any non-aligned country under the pretext of combating terrorism or to pursue its political aims, including by directly or indirectly categorizing them as terrorism-sponsoring States. It called on all States to refrain from extending any political, diplomatic, moral or material support for terrorism, and it urged States to ensure that refugee status was not abused by the perpetrators, organizers of facilitators of terrorist acts. The Movement furthermore called upon all States to respect all human rights and freedoms while countering terrorism. The Security Council sanctions committees should streamline their listing and de-listing procedures to address the concerns of due process and transparency.
He said the Non-Aligned Movement, calling for an international summit conference under the auspices of the United Nations to formulate a joint organized response of the international community to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including identifying its root causes, reiterated the importance of the conclusion of a Comprehensive Convention for Combating International Terrorism. The Movement also supported the initiative to elaborate by consensus an international code of conduct within the framework of the United Nations, aimed at reinforcing coordination and multilateral efforts for the prevention of terrorism, pending the conclusion of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.
HILDING LUNDKVIST (Sweden), speaking for the European Union, said terrorism, which was “criminal and inexcusable”, posed one of the most serious threats to State security and to citizens. The United Nations was equipped to lead and to coordinate the fight against this scourge, with the European Union’s support and counter-terrorism efforts by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
On behalf of the European Union, he said he called on all Member States to join all United Nations counter-terrorism conventions and protocols with legal foundations to fight terrorism globally. He said that, as well as supporting the Security Council committees on terrorism, all Member States should implement all Council and General Assembly resolutions on the issue. There should be more transparent and procedural sanctions against Al Qaida and the Taliban; a resolution to be adopted in December 2009 would be an opportune moment for this.
He said it was crucial for Member States to adopt measures to help terrorism victims to cope in the aftermath of such harrowing experiences. There was a need to implement the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and its four pillars, based on an integrated global approach, the rule of law and by including various segments of society. All measures against terrorism had to be taken in line with international law.
He spoke of the significant work of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, but it now had to be given budgetary and administrative resources to help it implement its strategy with the full support of national and international forces. The European Union would carry on with efforts to bolster dialogue and understanding between cultures, to counter the ignorance bred by terrorism. This had to include State, regional and civil society players.
MURAD ASKAROV (Uzbekistan) said the threat of terrorism could be deterred only by international cooperation. The international community must step up its efforts to intervene in situations and activities that contributed to the spread of terrorism, such as in the running of training centres that taught and spread hatred on ideological grounds. The delivery of terrorist nuclear materials could be deterred only by taking steps to achieve the entry into force of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It was of great satisfaction that central Asia had been declared a nuclear-weapon-free zone this year.
Continuing, he said curbs must be implemented against the flow of drug money used to finance terrorism activities. Successful results would be achieved only with coordinated effort using implementation of the Global Strategy as the centrepiece of the effort. The Shanghai Cooperative Organization, which his country headed at present, was a mechanism for the member nations of the region to formulate and implement cooperative measures and undertakings, such as facilitation of information-sharing arrangements about emerging terrorist groups. Such regional and subregional cooperative measures were the only way to stop terrorist activities and promote the sustainable development of the region and of member countries.
JAIRO HERNANDEZ (Costa Rica), supporting the statement on behalf of the Rio Group, noted that Costa Rica had ratified the majority of the international conventions to combat terrorism, as well as instituting national legislation to freeze assets, if there were suspicion of financing terrorist activities. He called upon the United Nations to fight terrorism through multilateral cooperation and a consistent focus, and said a single policy that addressed the threat on an international platform was needed. To that end, he stated support for the global strategy and the efforts of the task force and working groups.
Along with several other Member States, he added, Costa Rica participated in workshops that focused on cooperation, capacity-building and harmonizing activities. He urged that all measures be taken in accordance with the Charter and international human rights laws. Only through strengthened international legalities would these many efforts be successful, and the goals of peace and security reached. He called for speedy adoption of the comprehensive convention.
AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL (Pakistan) said that yesterday ‑‑ 5 October ‑‑ a terrorist suicide bomber had attacked the World Food Programme (WFP) office in Islamabad, killing 10 people and injuring 7. Pakistan unequivocally rejected terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomsoever, wherever and against whomsoever. It also rejected senseless killings of civilians, whether those might be motivated by ideological differences or convenience of use of overwhelming force against soft targets. The fight against terrorism was an intricate one, he said, where no simple solution could address indoctrination of suicide bombers and economic marginalization of affected societies. The denial of reality about the causes of the menace must be overcome.
He said his country fully supported the global counter-terrorism strategy adopted through consensus, and had adopted it at the national level. It had challenged terrorists hiding in the most remote and inaccessible mountains of the world. Law enforcement activities were strongly embedded in respect for human rights and international norms in the fight against terrorism. Pakistan had deployed more than 150,000 troops on its western border to interdict cross-border movement of the Taliban and Al-Qaida and was actively participating in the anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.
He said the “coordination and coherence” of the counter-terrorism strategy fell in the domain of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which should be supported through regular budget resources. His country also supported early adoption of a consensus text of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism. In that regard, he said he would ask, among other questions, why a draft that did not aim at providing an overarching and comprehensive definition of terrorism was labelled as a “comprehensive” convention, and why the question about the role of military forces in peacetime was simply being ignored. He reiterated support for the proposal to establish an international centre to combat terrorism, the proposal for a high-level conference on counter-terrorism, and the proposal to develop an international counter-terrorism code of conduct within the United Nations framework.
GAUNDENTIA SALASINI (Zambia) said that her country, committed to the global fight against terrorism and related activities, firmly believed that every human being had the right to exist without fear of unjustified and undue harm from any individual or organization. Regionally, it participated in the fight against terrorism by being a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group formed in 1999. That effort included coordinating with other international organizations concerned with combating money-laundering, developing institutional and human resource capacities to deal with the issues, and coordinating technical assistance where necessary. She said that Group enabled regional factors to be taken into account in the implementation of anti-money-laundering measures.
In an effort to promote the fight against terrorism at the national level, she said, Zambia in 2007 had enacted an anti-terrorism act aimed at preventing terrorist acts and activities and also providing measures for the detention of perpetrators. In that way, Zambia was cooperating with other nations to combat terrorism. It had established institutions such as an Anti-Corruption Commission and a Drug Enforcement Commission which were working tirelessly to ensure that terrorist activities were prevented in the country or were dealt with.
Zambia, she added, was establishing a financial intelligence unit to monitor all suspicious financial transactions that might be channelled through the country to support terrorist activities within Zambia or in any other country. As Member States debated measures to eliminate international terrorism, the international community should strengthen the national capacities of developing countries in such areas as training in biometrics and security standards. It should also provide training in nuclear, biological and chemical terrorism and provide them with modern equipment necessary to detect and counter-terrorist activities. If such assistance was not rendered, the developing countries would forever remain the weak links in the international fight against terrorism.
KOSAL SEA (Cambodia), condemning terrorism as one of the most serious challenges and threats to world development and people’s lives, said the scourge was a matter for the international community to deal with through cooperation and coordination among States. The international community needed a comprehensive and long-standing strategy to combat it effectively, and in that context, the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted by the General Assembly in 2006 was a vital instrument for States to work collectively to fight those crimes.
He said Cambodia was committed to counter, prevent and suppress all forms of terrorism acts in accordance with the United Nations Charter and other international law. His country had set up a multi-agency National Counter-Terrorism Committee, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, aimed at effectively combating terrorism.
Noting that terrorism respected no borders and, therefore, no nation could stand alone against it, he said that a collaborative approach was needed to enact effective national, regional and international systems to fight and defeat it. In that context, Cambodia was strongly committed to working with all security partners in strengthening counter-terrorism capacity and enhancing cooperation and information sharing. The country had entered into cooperative agreements with a number of countries on the establishment of coordination and information sharing procedures.
STEFAN BARRIGA (Liechtenstein), noting that his country had ratified all 13 universal counter-terrorism treaties, protocols and amendments, urged the Committee to “spend as little time and resources as possible on the ritualistic negotiations of our annual resolution”. He said the growing support by delegations for the compromise proposal put forth by the coordinator of the Ad Hoc Committee was encouraging. It was a legally sound and politically realistic proposal.
He said that this proposal, clarified issues of the application of international humanitarian law. Alternatively, the existing 13 counter-terrorism conventions did not use the same language to describe their relationship to international humanitarian law, they showed clear separation from acts which would otherwise be covered by such laws. It noted that the Convention against Hostage-Taking explicitly excluded situations of armed conflicts, and the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing referred to acts against civilians and non-combatants, thereby recognizing that certain acts directed against combatants were not prohibited under international law. The clarification within the compromise proposal would, therefore, help ensure that the convention against terrorism would preserve the integrity of international humanitarian law.
IGOR SHCHERBAK (Russian Federation) said the 2006 Global Strategy had much more potential for effectiveness beyond the already great progress that had been made through its implementation. That potential, however, could be achieved only if States took national measures, including legislatively and by more strongly involving civil society in all efforts. He said a Russian initiative had focused on involving the business community, among others. There was also the Shanghai Cooperative Organization round table conducted this year, for the consideration of cooperative initiatives that could be developed and implemented.
He said regional and subregional organizations were helpful in implementing United Nations aims. The General Assembly should work to increase the number of parties to international instruments related to eliminating terrorism. Agreeing on the comprehensive convention would be a great breakthrough in the combating of terrorism, he added. It would strengthen the foundation for all the existing instruments.
STELLA ORINA (Kenya), aligning herself with the statement of Tunisia and the Iran on behalf of the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement respectively, said that as a victim of previous acts of international terrorism, the people of Kenya, who had experienced first-hand its destructive and devastating effects, strongly condemned the activities of terrorists, for which there could be no justification.
She said the United Nations occupied a unique position in the fight against terrorism, by virtue of it coordination of anti-terrorism efforts through its various implementation mechanisms. It was important to bear in mind that terrorism amounted not only to an attack against State sovereignty and territorial integrity, but it also posed a threat to international peace and security. With that in mind, there was an urgent need to act now, and accordingly she called for the finalization for immediate adoption of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism. Kenya was convinced that adoption of the convention would complement the consensus achieved so far on the issue, instead of being engaged in an endless process, he explained.
The United Nations system, she added, had critical roles to play in helping States to implement the full range of commitments they undertook. While acknowledging that the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force had been invaluable in providing technical assistance to Member States in their quest to combat terrorism, he nevertheless felt that it needed to be strengthened, to be more efficient in its functioning.
EIHAB OMAISH (Jordan) said his country denounced all forms of terrorism. No form or manifestation of terrorism could be justified on any basis. Attempts to connect any religion or race with terrorism should be confronted. Terrorism was a global phenomenon and its causes and motivations were religiously and culturally neutral. Security measures were not enough to uproot international terrorism. Political, economic and social factors and other causes needed also be addressed. In counter-terrorism measures, the respect of human rights and the rule of law should be guaranteed. Terrorism was a global phenomenon that required a global and unified response.
As for the draft comprehensive convention, he noted paragraph (5) to article 18, suggested by the coordinator, which interpreted the hierarchy and linkage between international humanitarian law and the rules in the draft, especially on criminality and international humanitarian law and the rights thereunder. These merited serious consideration.
He also described steps taken at the national level in the fight against terrorism, saying that Jordan, a target of terrorism, would continue to combat the scourge and its perpetrators with all possible means. He said he welcomed the Saudi Arabian initiative for the establishment of an international centre to counter-terrorism, and supported the convening of a high-level conference on counter-terrorism under the auspices of the United Nations.
CAROLINE BICHET ANTHAMATTEN (Switzerland) reaffirmed her country’s condemnation of terrorism in all its forms, irrespective of its perpetrators, place and aim.
She said the implementation of a global strategy to fight terrorism in 2007 bore testimony to the need for stronger ties between the United Nations and Member States. In this regard, she pointed out that an international workshop made up of national focal points to fight terrorism would take place next week in Vienna (12 and 13 October). This meeting would give focal points, United Nations representatives and international organizations, as well as civil society, the opportunity to exchange best practices, needs and problems. This would in turn enable them to streamline data in order to deploy national efforts to execute the Organization’s mandate on the fight against terrorism.
She said she regretted that talks on drafting a global convention against terrorism, as part of the outcome document of the 2005 World Summit, had made little progress over the past few years. Switzerland urged Member States to participate actively in this session openly, actively and constructively. She reiterated her country’s commitment to the rule of law and human rights saying that these would combat and enhance the legitimacy of anti-terrorist measures.
NAMIRA NEGM (Egypt) said addressing the root causes and eliminating the conditions leading to the spread of terrorism should be achieved through the elimination of conflicts, ending foreign occupation, recognizing the right of peoples to self-determination, putting an end to State terrorism and eliminating all feelings of injustice and frustration that resulted from the application of double standards, politicization and selectivity.
Egypt, she said, underscored the need to activate the process of negotiations on article 18 of the Comprehensive Convention, or reconsider the definition of terrorist acts contained in paragraph 2. This would emphasize the distinction between a terrorist act and legal acts under international humanitarian law that were carried out by the national liberation movements in the exercise of their right to self-determination, and to criminalize acts committed by governments against innocent civilians.
Following the adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, she said, the time had come to overcome the difference in views to complement international efforts to reach agreement on the outstanding issues of the draft comprehensive convention on terrorism in order to complete the legal and practical anti-terrorism framework. In this connection, she stressed the need to resume the efforts to analyse potential weaknesses in securing maritime, aviation, traffic and public facilities, which included large gatherings, and to assess potential threats in a changing international environment in order to determine appropriate counter-measures, to prevent acts of terrorism and to respond to them. That required strengthened cooperation and complementarity among Member States and the Secretariat in formulating policies, and in making plans and implementing them.
He also stressed the importance of convening an international conference against terrorism under the auspices of the United Nations to reach a specific definition of terrorism that would differentiate between legal rules to combat terrorism and international humanitarian law, taking into account the Final Document of the Non-Aligned Movement issued at Sharm el-Sheikh in July this year, as well as the documents adopted by the Summits of the African, Arab and Islamic countries, which stressed the need to hold such an international conference.
MANJEEV SINGH PURI (India) said international terrorism was today one of the major threats facing the international community and humankind as a whole. The international community needed to marshal all its resources to combat the scourge. India had been a victim of terrorist attacks for decades, including last November in Mumbai, and the people of India continued to pay a heavy price in the fight against terrorism.
He said terrorism posed a grave threat to all States and societies, undermining peace and democracy; fighting it required a coordinated global response. On an international level, India was party to all 13 sectoral conventions on terrorism adopted under the auspices of the United Nations. Nationally, India had taken many steps to strengthen international cooperation to combat terrorism. There were several bilateral treaties in the areas of combating terrorism, organized crime, money-laundering, terrorism financing and illicit drug trafficking. In addition, there were treaties on extradition, legal assistance and development of joint programmes to combat money-laundering, organized crime and terrorism.
Referring to the ad hoc committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 (1996) for measures to battle terrorism, he noted that negotiations had been going on for years. Invaluable time in taking a concrete decision on this issue had already been lost, he added, and the international community could not afford to wait any longer, at a time when there was the most urgent need to show solidarity and collective global action.
SANSANEE SAHUSSARUNGSI (Thailand) noted that the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy was the first common approach by Member States to fight terrorism, and said she hoped it would not be the last. The proposed comprehensive convention would be a legal instrument that States could rely on to maximize joint efforts. A clear definition of terrorism, however, needed to be included in the draft in order to reduce the risk of generalizing terrorist acts and to accommodate the need to preserve the legitimate struggle of peoples against foreign occupation.
In the unresolved issue on the exclusion clause, she added, the coordinator’s proposal reflected a balance between the scope of the convention and the application of international humanitarian law based on the exclusionary approach. Since the convention was to be a law enforcement instrument on criminal responsibility, on the basis of an “extradite or prosecute” regime, the inclusion of the notion of State terrorism was necessary in order to avoid misconstruing the convention’s objective.
She said countering terrorism could take place in many dimensions. She spoke of Thailand’s efforts through several regional platform activities, including the ratification of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Convention on Counter Terrorism. As a party to that Convention, Thailand also fulfilled obligations not mentioned in the United Nations anti-terrorism instruments, among them the rehabilitation and social integration of persons involved in terrorist acts, and the addressing of root causes and conditions that were conducive to terrorism.
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