|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
2nd & 3rd Meetings (AM & PM)
Legal Committee Is Told Overall Convention against Terrorism
Must Meet International Law, Humanitarian Concerns
As the Sixth Committee (Legal) today took up the question of measures to eliminate international terrorism, delegates both called for the conclusion of the draft comprehensive convention while at the same time expressing concern that the finalization of the draft convention not be at the expense of international law, humanitarian law and the core tenets of the United Nations Charter.
The definition of terrorism was discussed by several delegates, including the representative of Syria, who spoke for the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), stressing the distinction between terrorism and the exercise of the “legitimate right of peoples to resist foreign occupation” as stated in the United Nations Charter and General Assembly resolution 46/51. He said the OIC supported a comprehensive strategy which addressed the root causes of terrorism and would continue to consider the latest proposal of the draft convention. However, a high-level conference was needed to formulate an agreed definition of terrorism and develop an international joint organized response to terrorism in “all its forms and manifestations”.
Echoing the need for clarification in the draft convention of the definition of terrorism, the delegate of Lebanon said terrorist acts were not in keeping with the tenets of Islam. Terrorist acts did not spare Muslims, he said, noting those who had died in the events of September 11th, as well as in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
The delegate of Indonesia, while noting his country’s ratification of seven counter-terrorism instruments, and national implementation of universal counter-terrorism strategies, urged that any actions to combat terrorism not become a “platform for violating the human rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens”. This, he said, would be counter-productive and erode the political legitimacy of sustained global efforts against terrorism.
Introducing the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of the draft convention, its Vice-Chairperson said that the current text contained elements that could “bridge the divergent views held on this politically complex matter”.
The delegate of Israel affirmed that human rights were a central pillar in any counter-terrorism strategy, while noting the challenge of striking a balance between conflicting values of human rights concerns and security considerations. Any agreement on a definition of terrorism should not dilute the principles that would make the comprehensive convention an effective tool in the fight against terrorism.
Extending his solidarity to all victims of terrorism around the world and offering his condolences to the families of those killed by terrorists, the representative of Afghanistan recalled the “long and painful experience” his country continued to have with acts of terrorism. He called for the convening of an international high-level conference so that an organized joint response could be formulated. As long as his region continued to be the breeding ground for terrorist elements, his country, his region and the world would be a target.
On other matters, the Chairperson of the Sixth Committee requested a moment of silence upon the death of Paula Escarameia of Portugal, who was a member of the International Law Commission and had also represented her country in the Sixth Committee during the establishment of the International Criminal Court, considered to be one of the most important processes and time in international law.
Speaking today on behalf of regional groups were the representatives of Belgium for the European Union; Kazakhstan for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; Trinidad and Tobago for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); Iran for the Non-Aligned Movement; Chile for the RIO Group of countries; Ghana for the African Group; and Australia, speaking also for Canada and New Zealand.
Speaking in their national capacities were the representatives of Egypt, Malaysia, Liechtenstein, Guatemala, Belarus, Jordan, China, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Algeria, Senegal, Thailand, United Republic of Tanzania, Switzerland, Serbia, Monaco, Oman, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Cuba, Myanmar, Mongolia, Morocco, Norway, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, United States, Sudan and El Salvador.
The delegate of Cuba spoke in right of reply.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, to conclude its consideration of the item, and will then take up the question of administration of justice in the United Nations.
The Sixth Committee (Legal) met today 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/65/37) on the proceedings of the Ad Hoc Committee’s fourteenth session(12 to 16 April 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. At the conclusion of their session, the Ad Hoc Committee decided to recommend to the Sixth Committee that a working group be established during the Assembly’s sixty-fifth session toward 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. The report states that general support was expressed for the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which it was said, as a living document, should be updated and examined regularly. There was also a call for wider participation of States in the various existing international counter-terrorism instruments. The need for international cooperation, including in extradition and mutual assistance matters, was highlighted with examples of steps taken at the national, regional and subregional levels to combat international terrorism. Support was expressed for the proposal of Tunisia to elaborate an international counter-terrorism code of conduct, as well as for the proposal of Saudi Arabia to establish an international centre to combat terrorism, under the auspices of the United Nations.
On the draft comprehensive convention, the report says that while emphasizing proceeding on the basis that “nothing is agreed until everything was agreed,” delegations reiterated the importance of concluding the instrument and that States be urged to show flexibility in order to bring to a close work on the draft. In discussions on outstanding issues, notably on article 18, delegations stressed the need to include a clear definition of terrorism which would distinguish between acts of terrorism and the legitimate struggle for a peoples’ right to self-determination.
Referring to the suggestions made by the Coordinator at the 2009 working group of the Sixth Committee, the report states that some delegations expressed support for the proposal to place draft article 18 closer to draft article 2, as well as to address certain outstanding issues in an accompanying resolution. It was also pointed out that the title of the draft convention could be decided upon at the end of the negotiating process. Support was also reiterated for convening a high-level conference, which would offer the opportunity to agree on a definition of terrorism, identify the root causes, and serve as a platform to resolve other outstanding issues and reconcile positions among delegations. However, whether or not the convening would be linked to the conclusion of the draft convention was also of concern.
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 reported that she was encouraged by an increase of delegations that “touched base” with her intersessionally in comparison to previous years. One round of formal bilateral contacts with interested delegations had convened on 9 April to obtain a clearer picture on delegations’ positions on outstanding issues, and on the negotiation process as a whole. The Coordinator, in regard to delegations’ concerns, said she “had become convinced” that the positions, from a legal perspective, were not as far apart as might appear. The Coordinator believed that with the elements of a compromise package and the suggestions that had been put forward during the 2009 working group of the Sixth Committee, the necessary tools existed to fulfil the Committee’s mandate.
In her summary of contacts during the session, while noting a renewed willingness to work on the proposed package, the Coordinator reports she underlined the overarching scheme that had been adopted and which focused efforts on the elaboration of a criminal law enforcement instrument targeted at individual criminal responsibility and based on enhanced international cooperation on the basis of an aut dedere aut judicare regime. The Coordinator further underlined that it was common knowledge that an entirely different legal regime, already well established, addressed concerns and definitions of concern to some delegations. The elements of the overall package offered further clarity with regard to the need to address impunity. She concluded by stating that delegations were more united than divided on such delicate issues. The contacts held with many delegations during the current session showed that there was political will to finalize those negotiations and adopt the draft convention, preferably during the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly.
Also before the Committee is the Secretary-General’s report on activities related to the elimination of international terrorism (document A/65/175 and Add.1 and Add.2). In it, he says 24 States responded by 30 June to his January call for information on national, international and regional actions towards the elimination of terrorism, with the additional response of Chile contained in the addendum. Also responding by 31 May were 10 agencies, as well as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The two addendums include information from Chile and from Turkmenistan.
With regard to measures related to prevention and suppression of terrorism, and on incidents caused by it, the report details actions taken by Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Poland, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland.
In the section on information received from international organizations, the Secretary-General’s report begins with details of actions taken by organizations in the United Nations system. Those include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO); the International Maritime Organization (IMO); the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Bank. Other reporting organizations included the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS); the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW); and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
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; 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 in September 2009. The Chinese and Russian versions were almost completed and would be published shortly.
Introduction to Report
ANA CRISTINA RODRÍGUEZ-PINEDA ( Guatemala), Vice-Chairperson, introducing the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on measures to eliminate terrorism, said that the text of the draft convention contained elements of a possible package that could “bridge the divergent views held on this politically complex matter”. To this end, she spoke of a formal communication from the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee to legal advisers in capitals urging that decisive decisions be taken towards completing the Convention. She also expressed hope that the General Assembly’s resolution and the Security Council Presidential Statement in September of this year which called for such a conclusion would encourage the Committee to “make every effort” in finalizing a successful draft Comprehensive Convention.
JEAN-CEDRIC JANSSENS DE BISTHOVEN (Belgium), speaking for the European Union, stated the Union’s support for resolutions establishing Security Council Committees which were the core of the United Nations response to terrorism, and he called for Member States to fully implement those resolutions. He also pointed out that the fight against terrorism needed to address the needs of victims of terrorist attacks. He noted that although terrorists often dominated the media, “the voices of victims are vital, not just because it is morally right [...] but because their own stories can often expose the hollow claim of terrorists.”
He then turned to the United Nations Global counter-Terrorism Strategy, which had been reaffirmed during the second review of its implementation and which, he said, represented a “significant success” and confirmed the importance of this universal document. He welcomed the institutionalization of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and urged that all participants in the Task Force fully engage in its mandate, not just in New York but in the field.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA (Kazakhstan), speaking for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), expressed her firm belief that future joint action would strengthen the international community’s effort to combat worldwide terrorism. However, she stressed, effective cooperation among States needed to be based on the principle of respect for regulations and fundamental principles of international law and without any “double standards”.
Turning to the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, she affirmed that its implementation would be “the most crucial task” toward improving an international system of counter-terrorism. She also noted the importance of the Joint Declaration on Cooperation between the Shanghai organization and the United Nations Secretariat that had been signed in April this year in Tashkent. In recognizing that condemning terrorism was an essential part of dialogue between religions and civilizations, she also emphasized that widespread prevention of terrorism, including countering the ideology that “nourishes it”, was also crucial when developing anti-terrorism partnerships. She called for the strengthening of regional security in Central Asia to be a priority since narcotic drug production and terrorism were rising in that region, and said international support should be given to the implementation of the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy.
CHERRY ANN MILLARD-WHITE ( Trinidad and Tobago), speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said her region had not been spared the dire consequence of the destabilizing criminal activity of terrorism. More than 30 years ago, an aircraft had been hijacked and bombed in the Caribbean Sea. The criminals responsible must be prosecuted. The harbouring of perpetrators of terrorist acts, whether direct or indirect, was “abhorrent”. Refugee status or any other legal status should not be a barrier to the prosecution of organizers or facilitators of terrorist activity. Member States must conform to their international obligation to prosecute or extradite those involved.
Continuing, she said a holistic and enhanced multilateral programme was required for addressing the scourge of terrorism. A significant amount of resources and efforts had been invested toward the eradication of terrorism and yet, unfortunately, global events demonstrated that the efforts were insufficient. A greater level of coordination among all relevant bodies was needed to ensure that the approach to dealing with the scourge was truly comprehensive and efficient. The Counter-Terrorism Strategy deserved full support.
A key element in efforts to address terrorism had been the ongoing negotiations for a Comprehensive Convention, she said. The inability of Member States to conclude negotiations had been disappointing. A universally accepted legal definition of terrorism was crucial for ending impunity for the perpetrators of the heinous crimes. It was also critical for improving the international response to such acts. A high-level conference would harness the political will for successfully concluding negotiations on the matter.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE (Iran), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Movement unequivocally condemned all acts of terrorism as criminal actions and reaffirmed that terrorist acts constituted a flagrant violation of international law. He then said terrorism should not be equated with the legitimate struggle of people for self-determination, and that national liberation as a right that had been reaffirmed in General Assembly resolution 46/51 of 27 January 1992.
Furthermore, he said terrorism could not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group. Those attributions should not be used to justify terrorism or counter-terrorism measures that included, among others, the profiling of terror suspects and intrusion on individual privacy.
He urged States to take the established measures against terrorism, including by ratifying the 13 sectoral instruments and adopting regional plans of action. He said a Summit should be held under United Nations auspices to formulate a joint organized response to terrorism. The Comprehensive Convention should be concluded, the Strategy should be implemented, and a Code of Conduct for multilateral efforts against terrorism should be elaborated. He called for an International Centre to combat terrorism to be established at Riyadh.
BASHAR JAAFARI(Syria), speaking for the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), stressed that terrorism was not encouraged by any religion or religious doctrine and “none should be portrayed as such”. Only a concerted international effort would produce effective results in the fight against terrorism and to that end, the OIC supported a comprehensive strategy which, he emphasized, must address the root causes, including unlawful use of force, foreign occupation and denial of a peoples’ right to self-determination, among others. He reiterated that a distinction between terrorism and the exercise of the “legitimate right of peoples to resist foreign occupation” needed to be established and that such a distinction existed in international law, international humanitarian law, the United Nations Charter and General Assembly resolution 46/51.
Turning to the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, he said that while supporting full implementation of all its aspects, it was nevertheless an ongoing effort and living document which would need to be updated and examined regularly. As for the financing of terrorism, he said that the payment of ransom to terrorist groups constituted a main source of financing for terrorism; Member States should support the banning of such payments. He expressed the willingness of the OIC to continue consideration of the latest proposal of the draft Convention, and said there should be a high-level conference to formulate an agreed definition of terrorism and develop an international joint organized response to terrorism in “all its forms and manifestations”.
OCTAVIO ERRAZURIZ (Chile), speaking for the RIO Group of countries, welcomed progress towards finalization of the institutionalization of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, said the Group recognized the work of regional and subregional organizations in implementing the Strategy. He said prevention was as important as repression of terrorism, and that it was essential to determine and eliminate the factors that could breed terrorist acts. Those included political, ethnic, racial and religious intolerance as well as the social and economic divide among countries and nations.
In that context, he continued, it was important to stress that the measures used to combat terrorism must always be conducted in strict observance of international law, including human rights law, international humanitarian law and the international law of refugees. Only measures adopted in accordance with the United Nations Charter and other norms could be successful or garner the required broad support of the international community. Actions outside that framework were unjustifiable.
Finally, he said it was time for delegations to show the flexibility to move forward and adopt the comprehensive convention during the current Assembly session. To accomplish that goal, it must be recognized that no text would be the best option for any particular delegation or group. The best possible text should be the focus in the search to reach agreement.
EBENEZER APPREKU (Ghana), speaking for the African Group, stated that the Organization of African Unity had adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism in 1999, which came into force in 2002 and was followed by a Plan of Action by an intergovernmental high-level Meeting that year. He noted that, furthermore, the African Centre for Study and Research on Terrorism had been established in Algiers, and during its fifteenth Ordinary Session, held in Kampala, Uganda, this year, the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments of the African Union reiterated its commitment to take sustained and continued appropriate measures against acts of terrorism and to the development of new strategies in enhancing their collective response.
The African Group also welcomed cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, notably the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative which was being elaborated by the African Centre for Study and Research on Terrorism and the United States/Africa Centre for Strategic Studies. He concluded by emphasizing that capacity-building in developing countries was vital to a universal international law approach to combating terrorism.
SUE ROBERTSON ( Australia), speaking also for Canada and New Zealand, noted that with terrorist groups dispersed over wider geographic areas, detection and pre-emptive measures were made difficult. She urged greater cooperation on regional and international levels, and said closing the remaining gaps of the counter-terrorism legal framework was vital. The recent adoption of the Beijing Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Relating to International Civil Aviation and the Beijing Protocol Supplementary to the Convention to the Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft were important advancements toward addressing new and emerging threats to civil aviation. She also commended the useful guidance of the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate, whose workshops in East Africa and in Dhaka and Colombo for South Asian countries were supported by Australia and Canada.
She said the threat of terrorism was of great concern in the Asia-Pacific region and the countries for which she spoke were heavily engaged in regional cooperation in Asia and the Pacific, developing sound criminal legal frameworks and governance frameworks which contributed to regional stability and security. She encouraged the United Nations to “find ways of streamlining” reporting obligations from small States on implementation of the Organization’s counter-terrorism legal instruments. Such simplification, she stated, would encourage more regular feedback, and thus help the United Nations and other organizations in their efforts to assist where needed.
IBRAHIM SALEM ( Egypt) said that terrorism should not be associated with any one religion or culture, and reiterated the need to address the root causes of terrorism, to eliminate double standards and selectivity in implementing international obligations, and to recognize the rights of peoples to self-determination. The conclusion of the Comprehensive Convention was an “important step to complement the existing sectoral conventions on terrorism”. However, a clear definition of terrorism that distinguished between acts of terrorism and the legitimate struggle for self-determination still needed to be established. To that end, he called for the convening of a high-level conference, which might assist in the speedy conclusion of the Convention. He welcomed the successful second review of the Global Strategy on Counter-Terrorism, noting in particular that responsibility for implementation laid with Member States.
ABDUL RAHMAN DAHLAN ( Malaysia) welcomed the September adoption of two Conventions in Beijing relating to aviation terrorism under auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). He said it was a sign of progress in international cooperation on actions to counter terrorism. Unfortunately, the crime-fighting measure was like others in being a step behind the creativity of criminals.
He said military power could not singularly solve the problem of the increased incidence of suicide bombings and attacks on civilians. The root causes of the recourse to violence for reaching objectives must be addressed. That must be the focus of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Preventive measures must be elaborated and implemented, aimed at de-radicalizing and preventing the growing use of the Internet to disseminate propaganda and to recruit as well as to acquire financial and logistical support. Long-term responses may also reside in democratization, education, improving economic conditions and resolving regional conflicts, including the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Reviewing national and regional efforts with regard to countering terrorism, he said a high-level conference should be held. It would serve as an important way forward to address the challenges handicapping the global counter-terrorism effort. The convening of the conference should not be contingent on completion of the comprehensive convention.
STEFAN BARRIGA ( Liechtenstein) said little time and resources should be devoted to the “ritualistic negotiation” of the annual resolution on the item; attention should, rather, focus on concluding the negotiations on the draft comprehensive convention.
He said the approach taken in the Coordinator’s proposal was the only possible way to compromise. It was legally sound and politically realistic. It clarified issues related to the application of international humanitarian law in a manner that could already be read into Article 18 of the Coordinator’s text, in particular since the first paragraph of the existing draft article already referred to the integrity of international humanitarian law. The compromise proposal was consistent, therefore, with other conventions in the area of counter-terrorism, most notably the bombing convention.
ANA CRISTINA RODRÍGUEZ-PINEDA (Guatemala), speaking in her national capacity, noted that the location of her country made it a transit point for drug trafficking, which in turn encouraged illegal arms trafficking and the trafficking of persons by transnational crime organizations. Along with extreme poverty, these elements perpetrated terrorist acts. The link between drug trafficking and funding for terrorist organizations had been noted by the Organization, and in particular, by the Security Council. In a globalized world, these crime organizations were well equipped with new technologies that enabled effective communication and information. To that end, she called for regional and international support to meet such challenges, as each region’s specific needs had to be taken into consideration when counter-terrorism strategies were being developed. In 2011 her country would be hosting the first international conference on Central America security. Pointing out that in 2005 Heads of States had agreed to conclude the Convention before the sixtieth Session of the General Assembly, she stated that “flexibility in this field is not the same as weakness,” and called for a successful conclusion to the Draft Convention.
YURY NIKOLAICHIK ( Belarus) said terrorism could be fought only through concerted and coordinated international and regional action based on a solid legal foundation. Implementation of the Strategy would be greatly strengthened by the conclusion and adoption of the comprehensive convention. A number of options should be considered for accomplishing that goal during the current Assembly session. For example, pending issues could be handled by shifting them to a separate resolution to accompany the convention, however much that would weaken the convention itself. The holding of a summit without agreement on outstanding issues would be counterproductive.
He said regional cooperation was a key element in the development and implementation of a global strategy, as had been proven by the experience of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries in his region. Bilateral and multilateral treaties were also crucial for controlling the activities of terrorists. International efforts must be transparent and the importance of providing technical assistance to States could not be overstated.
EIHAB OMAISH ( Jordan) recalled the reasons for why security measures were inadequate for defeating terrorism, and why the root causes must be addressed. He then said the Coordinator’s draft text for the comprehensive convention merited serious and expeditious consideration because of its interpretation of hierarchy and the linkage established between international humanitarian law and the rules in the draft comprehensive convention. That was particularly relevant with regard to criminality and the supremacy of international humanitarian law and the rights thereunder.
Summarizing national efforts to combat terrorism and its perpetrators with all possible means and will, he said anti-terrorism and anti-money-laundering legislation had been introduced, as had stricter border controls. National public institutions had been set up to protect the rights of victims as well as to rehabilitate and find new opportunities for them.
WANG MIN ( China), while endorsing the United Nations Global counter-Terrorism Strategy, said that individual countries needed to “strictly implement” the Security Council’s counter-terrorism resolutions and strengthen international counter-terrorism cooperation. Through the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, the 1267 Committee and other United Nations counter-terrorism institutions coordination and cooperation would be enhanced. On a national level, he noted that his country had decided to ratify the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and would deliver the Document of Ratification to the Secretary-General in the near future. On a regional level, his Government continued to conclude bilateral counter-terrorism initiatives, and the relevant legal instruments to carry out cooperation and exchanges in this field.
DANIIL MOKIN ( Russian Federation) noted that terrorist acts continued unabated in his country and around the world. He stressed that it was important to strengthen a collective framework with full respect for the United Nations Charter and for international law. The Global Strategy had enormous potential that had not been fully realized, although progress in its implementation was clearly unfolding. He said that addressing terrorism through interactions between States and civil society was a Russian initiative; it had garnered supported by international groups, including the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, among others. In March of this year, an international conference focusing on such anti-terrorism partnerships had been convened in Moscow and a counter-terrorism journal would be issued on a regular basis. Calling for the conclusion of the draft convention, he said his delegation would do its utmost to support this and, through his participation in this committee, he would do so as well.
ABDULRAHMAN AL-AHMED ( Saudi Arabia) said the fight against terrorism was no longer an individual country’s concern but one that called for the involvement of all nations. It was also not right to accuse any nations or religions of supporting terrorism. The fight against terrorism was crucial but it must not be turned into a fight against Muslims or Islam. It should not be turned into a war of civilizations. Condemnation of terrorism must include State terrorism, including that practiced by Israel against the Palestinians. Armed resistance against foreign occupation was a legitimate right of all nations. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be resolved so as to remove that regionally destabilizing factor.
He said that acceding to conventions must be accompanied by a serious commitment to fighting terrorism. His country had held a conference in 2005, the outcome of which had affirmed national and regional efforts within the global context. The centre at Riyadh should be established so as to enhance both the coordination of efforts and the United Nations investment in anti-terrorism activities.
ZENON MUKONGO NGAY ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) reaffirmed his condemnation of terrorism and commended activities at the international level to counter and suppress terrorist activities. He said his country had submitted a number of reports on anti-terror measures it had instituted in fulfilling obligations related to its accession to relevant instruments in the fight against terror. Moreover, the provisions of the international treaties had been incorporated into national legislation. For example, laws had been enacted to strengthen cross-border security and measures to combat money-laundering and the use of technologies by terrorist groups.
He called for the completion of negotiations toward the comprehensive convention during the current session. He also said the convening of a high-level conference to formulate a common response should remain a high priority on the agenda of the General Assembly.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) said the international community must be more vigilant than ever in light of evidence that terrorist groups were capable of adapting quickly to international efforts to fight them. Implementation of the Strategy must remain flexible so as to adapt measures according to the situation on the ground throughout the process.
One example was the new and growing phenomenon of hostage-taking for ransom, he said. That increase in the capacity of terrorists to inflict damage and harm was deserving of particular attention. The global community must equip itself with greater political resolve to curtail that newest form of financing made possible by the use of heavy weaponry and the reinforcement of group capacity. The fight against that new form of terrorism financing depended on improving the relevant international legal framework, including through such measures as the prohibition against ransom payments, as had been done in response to a request by the African Union.
He said his country’s approach to fighting terror was by taking national and regional actions based on existing international norms. Demobilization of former combatants had been a priority, for example. At the political level, the approach was to promote peace and reconciliation while respecting differences in the culturally rich country. National resources were also turned toward the address of inequalities in the society, along with the holding of regional workshops and the forming of partnerships. Adapting national legislation in line with a growing assumption of international responsibilities was a priority, as were bilateral agreements.
Finally, he said compromise on the comprehensive convention must be reached during the current session. That would give fresh impetus to the global fight against the evolving adaptability of terrorists.
PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) said that while all forms of terrorism should be condemned, stated that such acts were not aligned with any one religion or group. He said that because terrorism destabilized regions and countries, efforts to combat it must never be relaxed, and he believed the Task Force would harmonize all efforts to that end. However, just as important in addressing this challenge, were the exchange of dialogue and the strengthening of understanding between religions and cultures, and support for greater tolerance and in challenging radicalization of beliefs. He said support for the capacities of States was crucial; to this end his country was engaged on bilateral and international levels, including being party to 13 universal counter-terrorism instruments. The legal framework would become even stronger with the adoption of the convention, and he said he urged all delegates to reach agreements on the outstanding issues. He said any action against terrorism must be in line with international law and humanitarian law.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) stated that, with the adoption of his country’s national strategy in 2006, legislation was currently being drafted to address the challenges of terrorist financing. Having ratified seven of the universal counter-terrorism instruments, Indonesia had implemented on a national level the Coordinating Body on Combating of Terrorism, as well as the National Body for Counter Terrorism, which was responsible to implement the five universal counter-terrorism strategies. On a bilateral level, his country had concluded counter-terrorism cooperation agreements with many countries, especially its neighbours, and had established with Australia the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation, which provided structured training for law enforcement personnel in the Asia Pacific region. However, he urged that combating terrorism could not become a “platform for violating the human rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens”. It would be counter-productive and erode the political legitimacy of sustained global efforts in combating terrorism. Furthermore, he added, it was essential not to ignore the circumstances that “provide terrorists with philosophical material”. He called for the convening of a high-level conference to addressing “this complex issue”.
When the Committee met again this afternoon, SANSANEE SAHUSSARUNGSI ( Thailand) announced that her country had decided to become a party to the various sectoral United Nations conventions and protocols on counter-terrorism. At this time, Thailand was party to about half of them and her Government was now reviewing existing laws and developing new ones in order to fully comply with and implement the remaining instruments. She said she would like clarification on the application of the obligation to prosecute or extradite when establishing jurisdiction over a person committing an offence specified in the international terrorism instruments. In the case of different States concurrently requesting extradition, it was not clear as to which State the person would be sent. In principle, she noted, it would be the State with the best chance of successful prosecution, but observed that such a determination might be difficult to gauge. Agreeing with the view that the current draft of the comprehensive convention represented the best chance of reaching general agreement on the text, she stressed that activities already governed by customary international humanitarian law and relevant treaties should be exempted from the scope of the draft.
DONALD CHIDOWU (United Republic of Tanzania) said that since terrorism was “borderless, colourless, and has neither religion nor ethnic group” any State was a potential victim. Thus, unifying of efforts was the only solution toward preventing and combating it. In that regard, Tanzania, in collaboration with the International Crime in Africa Programme at the Institute for Security Studies, had hosted a regional training workshop for senior law enforcement, criminal justice and judicial officials on counter-terrorism and international crimes. Turning to the draft convention, he observed that the same issues were still at “deadlock”. The international community should focus on these areas of difference and utilize political will to resolve the outstanding concerns. “The more we delay the more sophisticated international terrorism becomes in its strategies and tactics,” he stated. On a national level, he said that his country, in support of the Global Strategy, was working on a National Counter Terrorism Strategy, and he appealed for technical assistance and urged Member States to “step up cooperation” for the full realization of the action plans and measures identified in the Strategy.
ALI KARANOUH ( Lebanon), stating that “terrorism left a trail of blood and destruction”, recalled that his country’s top officials, generals and “political elite” had fallen victim to such acts. His country had also waged war against one of the most active terrorist groups within its own borders. However, Lebanon had also suffered from “State-sponsored terrorism” by Israel where many civilians had been killed, and airports and oil refineries destroyed. The United Nations quarters had been a victim, among others, and he commented that the blue flag of the Organization had not been able to protect those United Nations staff members.
He said such acts were not in keeping with Islam, and since terrorism had no religion or sect, he wished to quote from the Koran, saying “Argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious”. Terrorist acts, he went on, did not spare Muslims, including those who died in the events of 11 September as well as those who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said, “Islamaphobia” could be seen as “cultural terrorism”
Urging that four points be clarified in the draft convention, among them the definition of terrorism and the right to resist foreign occupation, he added that his country supported the establishment of a centre to combat terrorism as proposed by the King of Saudi Arabia.
NIKOLAS STÜRCHLER ( Switzerland) condemned terrorism and reiterated his commitment to the rule of law and human rights in the context of efforts to combat it. Such commitment, rather than being contradictory, increased respect for human rights and enhanced the legitimacy of anti-terrorist measures. The comprehensive convention must be finalized, he said, and the last meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee indicated a willingness on the part of States to contribute constructively to the discussion. States must now participate actively and creatively in exploring new tracks toward conclusion of the convention. A successful outcome would underscore the Assembly’s role as an organ whose legitimacy was universally recognized and which had unique authority in setting standards, including in the area of combating terrorism.
FEODOR STARČEVIĆ (Serbia), expressing support for the Global Strategy and all relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, noted that Serbia had stepped up its national efforts in bilateral, regional and international cooperation in response to border and custom control, and to the prevention and detection of the movement of terrorists, and illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons, to name a few. His country was also working closely with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on the joint programme on strengthening Serbia’s legal regime against terrorist financing, among other efforts.
He said Serbia was also actively engaged in implementing the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute knowledge management programme, focusing on nuclear, chemical and biological security. The issue of respective territories not being used for terrorist installations or training camps was of particular concern to his country since there had been “many instances of terrorism in the part of our territory that is currently under international administration”. He then urged international civilian and military authorities in Kosovo — “in accordance with their respective mandates”- to strengthen their efforts in combating terrorism and to provide security and safety for all citizens living there.
CHRISTOPHE GONZALES ( Monaco) said experts had agreed that terrorists were adapting to new conditions in response to efforts to stop them. Many countries did not have the resources to meet the growing needs, including in the area of providing assistance to victims. The comprehensive convention must be finalized to meet the growing demand posed to the international community by the new forms of terrorism arising. To accomplish the task at long last, the Ad Hoc Committee had recommended that the Legal Committee set up a Working Group. That had been accomplished yesterday. The rest was in the hands of delegations. In considering the question of bringing perpetrators of terrorism to justice, the principle of the obligation to prosecute or execute should be kept in mind.
KHALID AL-GHAILANI ( Oman) said all measures must be adopted and all efforts exerted in the fight against terrorism within the context of international norms and standards, including those set out in the 1998 Arab League Convention and the 1999 Organization of the Islamic Conference Convention. His country had acceded to 10 of the 13 sectoral instruments related to the fight against terrorism; national legislation was being adapted for the assumption of increased international obligations.
At the international level, however, it was necessary to reiterate that all attempts to link terrorism with any religion or ethnic group were erroneous. In addition, implementation of the Strategy must take place in context of the relevant international safeguards and norms.
ABDELRAZAG GOUIDER ( Libya) said the speakers for the regional groups had represented a broad spectrum of the world’s people. Despite the unity surrounding achievement of the goal, however, it was unfortunate that no agreement had been achieved on elements for the comprehensive convention. That was because some voices still insisted on adhering to a shallow and narrow political view. The high-level summit must be held to formulate a common approach toward terrorism and to formulate rules of conduct for counter-terrorist actions.
He said that delay in drawing up the comprehensive convention would bring into question the Committee’s modus operandi. It would pose fundamental questions about the validity of the Legal Committee. It would be asked, How could the Legal Committee fail to be able to agree on a definition of terrorism and to distinguish terrorism from the legitimate right of peoples to resist occupation when those principles were well established legal norms? How could it be that perpetrators of terrorist acts were not brought to justice, including States? Libya, he said, would not fail to support any approaches to a speedy conclusion of the comprehensive convention so as to avoid that situation for the Committee.
ALI MOHAMMED ALSHEMAILI ( United Arab Emirates) said all forms of terrorism must be addressed, including the State terrorism that violated the right of peoples to self-determination. Negative practices associated with terrorism must be confronted, including attempts to associate terrorism with a religion, culture, society or ethnic group. All attempts to confuse terrorism with Islam must be rejected and hateful provocations be prevented since they did not fall within the scope of free speech but within that of acts that fostered terrorism. A high-level conference should be held to contribute to a clear definition of terrorism and separate it from the right of peoples to self-determination.
Outlining his country’s activities in relation to fighting terrorism at the national, regional and international level, he said he welcomed the second review of the United Nations Strategy by the Assembly, as well as the Presidential statement issued by the ministerial meeting of the Security Council. Finalization of the draft comprehensive convention would ensure better guidelines and methodological tools for combating terrorism at the global level.
MOHAMMAD ERFANI AYOOB ( Afghanistan) spoke of the “long and painful experience” his country continued to have with acts of terrorism. He extended his solidarity to all victims of terrorism around the world and expressed his condolences to the families of those killed by terrorists. The efforts made by his country with its international partners produced great progress in improving the lives of its citizens and creating conditions that were “free from the fear” of terrorist acts. However, he noted, terrorism acts were still active, with attacks on schools, clinics, teachers and students, in particular girls, as well as humanitarian workers and security forces.
In order to take effective measures to combat terrorism, he said that all States must fulfil their obligations in implementing the relevant United Nations international protocols and instruments as well as the General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. He called for the convening of an international high-level conference so that an organized joint response could be formulated. Furthermore, he stressed that as long as terrorist centers, training facilities and sanctuaries continued to remain protected, his region would continue to be the breeding ground for terrorist elements and his country, his region and thus, the world would be a target.
MOHAMMAD ABDALLAH AL-ATEEQI ( Kuwait), while condemning all acts of terrorism and stressing that terrorist acts were not associated with any one group or religion, warned against the “utilization of double standards” which he said contravened the rule of law, the rights of refugees and international humanitarian law, among others. He also urged that all Security Council Sanctions Committees needed to have transparent, fair and clear measures for the listing and the delisting of individuals and entities. On a national level, his country had established the Kuwaiti Peace Centre for the rehabilitation of those accused in terrorist cases. A national committee, under the leadership of the Central Bank of Kuwait, had also been established, to combat money-laundering and financing of terrorism. He also stressed that all Kuwaiti charitable organizations were non-profit, providing humanitarian assistance to developing countries and working under the supervision of the Kuwaiti Government. In conclusion, he renewed his country’s support for the establishment of an international centre to combat terrorism which had been proposed by the King of Saudi Arabia.
RODOLFO BENÍTEZ VERSON ( Cuba) recalled the Strategy review held earlier this year and said the implementation of the four pillars constituted a significant starting point for channelling efforts for globally eliminating terrorism. Implementation of pillars one and four — covering the need for tackling conditions conducive to terrorism and approaches to dealing with the scourge — was especially important.
Also, it must not be found acceptable by the international community that certain States carried out acts of aggression and interfered in the internal affairs of others, on the pretext of fighting terrorism. The certification of countries was an illegitimate practice and the August decision by the United States to include Cuba as an alleged terrorist-sponsoring State was categorically rejected, particularly while Luis Posada Carriles, the most notorious terrorist of the western hemisphere, continued to walk freely in the streets of Miami while five Cuban heroes had suffered unjustly in prison now for 12 years.
He said his country’s commitment to fighting terrorism was unequivocal. The new comprehensive convention on terrorism must include the activities of a State’s armed forces, which were not regulated by international humanitarian law. A clear distinction must be drawn between terrorism and the legitimate right to self-determination.
ADY SCHONMANN ( Israel) said many of today’s terrorists were obscure private individuals operating in the shadows of States. The visible reminders of “the faceless plague” were the victims. Human rights were a central pillar in any counter-terrorism strategy and any counter-terrorism strategy must, as a priority, be sensitive and devoted to assisting victims of terrorist acts.
She said the most fundamental challenge in the struggle against terrorism was the task of striking a delicate balance between the conflicting values of human rights concerns and security considerations. The Strategy was a vital framework for fighting terrorism and increased partnerships between States and regional groups was vital, as was the enactment of relevant legislation.
She said State sponsorship and financing of terrorists, including through the transfer of weapons, training, funding or serving as hosting headquarters, created a “toxic cocktail” in which groups that had no respect for humanitarian or human rights were empowered with State-like military capabilities. The international community must address active as well as passive support for terrorist groups, and the recruitment of individuals to carry out terrorist attacks must be considered as integrally linked to the phenomenon of incitement, an activity that countries had a responsibility to address and prevent. Calls for addressing the underlying causes of terrorism were often a poorly disguised attempt to justify the unjustifiable. Any agreement on a definition of terrorism must not dilute the principles that would make the comprehensive convention an effective tool in the fight against terrorism.
THA AUNG NYUN ( Myanmar) recalled the Charter of the United Nations which stated that all nations held the core responsibility of suppressing acts of terrorism. Furthermore, because terrorism had close links with transnational organized crime, Mynamar’s foreign policy forbade the use of its territory for hostile acts against any other State, and did not give assistance or haven to persons involved in terrorist acts.
In the measures taken to eliminate terrorism, he said, his country had acceded to eleven counter-terrorism conventions and had signed the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Convention on Counter Terrorism at its twelfth Summit in 2007. Furthermore, Myanmar had been deleted from the list of Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories in 2006, as a result of the positive actions taken. On a regional level, his country had been participating in counter-terrorism meetings, symposia, seminars and workshops.
Continuing, he pointed out that his country had promulgated the Control of Money-Laundering Law and Rules in 2002 and the Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Laws and Rules in 2004. Because of its geographical situation, Myanmar had also established a Border Liaison Office at the Myanmar-China border, and was in the process of establishing such offices at the Myanmar-India and Myanmar-Thailand checkpoints as well.
GANKHUYAG SODNOM ( Mongolia) said he noted with satisfaction that since 2001 there had been a “dramatic increase” in the adherence to the 13 anti-terrorism international conventions and the three additional protocols. He urged that concerted efforts be “redoubled” in order to reach an agreement on the outstanding issues on the draft comprehensive convention. As for efforts to suppress the financing of terrorism, he said his country had been actively participating in United Nations and European Union efforts to counter drug cultivation and trafficking, and to train national forces in Afghanistan in combating terrorism. His country also remained committed to the relevant Security Council resolutions and to their requirements for reporting and monitoring. He was pleased to note that his country’s reporting had been well received when last reviewed in 2008. This year, Mongolia hosted regional workshops organized by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to promote State adherence to Security Council resolution 1373. He was pleased to note that the workshop was a success and he thanked the directorate and the drugs and crime office for their technical and financial support.
ISMAIL CHEKKORI ( Morocco) said that despite all the efforts and sacrifices made around the world, terrorist acts were still the most dangerous challenge to peace and security. He recalled the Presidential Statement of the Security Council in September of this year which, he said, affirmed this. The complexity, scope and intensity of terrorist acts that were enacted through a myriad of methods made it impossible for “only one country” to confront these challenges; since it was clearly a transnational threat and could appear anywhere regardless of religion or culture, his country rejected linkage to any belief or group. His country supported all efforts to continue dialogue and seeking solutions.
The United Nations represented an international framework and was the best organization to facilitate this, he said. It was necessary to continue to work together to finalize the convention. The process, he added, should not undermine the spirit of combating terrorism and he recalled the second review of the Global Strategy. On a national level, he said his country had worked incessantly and had managed after “great efforts and sacrificing” to develop a comprehensive national approach that respected both national law and the obligations of the international conventions.
ÅSMUND ERIKSEN ( Norway) said fighting terrorism must remain a key priority for the United Nations. His country was firmly committed to implementing all resolutions and Conventions on the issue. The establishment of the “ombudsperson” role for the 1267 Committee, relating to the listing process, was commendable. The pledge to making the office independent and accessible was notable. All States should assist in making the role widely known.
He noted key United Nations measures in the fight against terrorism, including the adoption of the Strategy and the institutionalization of the Task Force, whose activities he said should be given priority. Norway was sponsoring the Integrated Assistance to Countering Terrorism Initiative. Workshops and conferences were being held to facilitate interface between the Task Force and Member States. The comprehensive convention should be adopted and a high-level conference would provide an excellent opportunity for taking stock.
YUN YONG IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the “ceaseless bloodsheds” occurring in many parts of the world were the consequence of a vicious cycle of terrorism interacting with retaliation. What could not be overlooked was the military aggression against sovereign States and interference in others’ internal affairs, not to mention extreme violation of human rights justified under the pretext of fighting terrorism. The root cause of terrorism must be understood in order to identify effective measures to be taken. International relations must be re-established based on sovereign equality, justice and fairness. All States should respect each other’s ideology, system, culture and tradition. They should actively promote international cooperation for common development and prosperity. The comprehensive convention should be adopted and the high-level conference convened.
ADEL BEN LAGHA ( Tunisia) noted that his country was party to the 13 international counter-terrorism legal instruments, and said it confirmed Tunisia’s belief that only a collective effort based on effective cooperation among Member States could successfully challenge this global threat. In preparing to discuss the draft comprehensive convention, he urged a “clear, unambiguous and consensual text” be concluded, which bridged the gaps and which could be adhered to by Member States without reservation.
On a national level, he said the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate had conducted a visit to his country in March this year, in order to enhance monitoring and implementation of international resolutions as well as facilitating technical assistance towards this monitoring. Noting that technical assistance was essential in combating terrorism, he observed that many countries in Africa were in “dire need of appropriate technical assistance to meet their obligations under many Security Council resolutions” and he urged that this situation be addressed as soon as possible
FAZH ÇORMAN (Turkey) said full compliance, notably with the thirteen major conventions on terrorism, was crucial to the success of counter-terrorism efforts and to that end he expressed his expectation that all Member States would be making every effort to conclude the negotiations of the draft comprehensive convention. Continuing, he noted that because of the close connection between terrorist groups and criminal organizations, corruption, money-laundering and terrorism financing needed to be a priority in counter-terrorist activities. In this regard, international judicial cooperation would be as crucial as security cooperation. The principle of “extradite or prosecute” was “a prerequisite for success in finding, denying safe haven and bringing to justice” those who supported, facilitated or participated in terrorist activities. Thus, information exchange in the area of border controls was most important to this area. However, enhanced dialogue and understanding between cultures and nations also contributed to the international fight against terrorism, and he referred to the initiative, Alliance of Civilizations that his country and Spain had launched which aimed to emphasize the common values of different cultures and religions.
JAMES DONOVAN ( United States) said his country was committed to forming partnerships in the fight against terrorism. Other measures which were considered priorities in the global approach to terrorism included “norm-creation and promotion”, as well as providing technical and capacity-building assistance. The United Nations provided the platform for the exchange of best practices, not only for the benefit of States but also on behalf of victims of terrorism.
He said the 18 core United Nations instruments, including those of the agencies, called for States to take legally binding actions with regard to terrorist activities such as hostage-taking and money-laundering. All States should sign the instruments and ensure the implementation of their provisions through national legislation. The UNODC had a crucial role in combating terrorism and the United States would increase funding for its activities. The comprehensive convention should be finalized since its continued evidence of lack of agreement on terrorism only served to highlight the global differences on the issue rather than enhancing cohesion over elements on which there was agreement. With regard to the Venezuelan request for the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, national legal proceedings in the United States prevented compliance with the request.
AMENUEL YOANES AJAWIN ( Sudan) said he condemned unequivocally all acts of terrorism and stood ready to support all international actions to fight “the heinous activity”. His country was also reviewing the relevant international instruments and agreements with an eye towards taking measures against nuclear terrorism.
The most effective approach towards terrorism, he said, was the promotion of constructive dialogue between nations and religions. Terrorism could not be successfully fought without a legal definition of the term and the fight must start with addressing the root causes. Peoples’ right to self-determination was inscribed in the Charter and should not be confused with terrorism. The international centre at Riyadh should be established for a comprehensive, coordinated international approach to global terrorism.
CLAUDIA MARÍA VALENZUELA DÍAZ ( El Salvador) said it was the responsibility of the entire international community to prevent the loss of life and the material loss that occurred in acts of terrorism. On a regional level, El Salvador had incorporated international anti-terrorism instruments into national legislation, which was in force since 2006. Reiterating the remarks of her country’s President, she stated that not only did terrorism not respect borders, but it undermined borders. Thus, there needed to be strategies to face new challenges, in step with international conventions.
In El Salvador, she continued, there was now an airport security committee implementing security measures at their international airport. They also were implementing naval inspections and patrols as well, and conducting exchanges of information with relevant organizations, bodies and groups. Besides working with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), among others, the Amazon Group, a mixed group of Central American States, also exchanged information on active terrorist groups and shared police data. The strategy of “Prohibit, Prosecute and Punish” crimes relating to terrorist activities also included financing and related activities. Concluding, she urged that the international legal framework become more vigorous.
Right of Reply
The representative of Cuba, in right of reply, said his country’s request for extradition of Luis Posada Carriles had been rejected because of technical flaws. In the United States, he said, Mr. Carriles was being investigated only for minor immigration issues, even though he was considered to be a terrorist. He continued to walk freely and to organize against Cuba and other countries; his threats not only jeopardized Cuba and its civilians, but Cuba’s ecosystem which it shared with other countries, including the United States.
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