|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
Commemorative Ceremony for Tenth
Anniversary of 11 September (AM)
General Assembly President, at Commemoration of 11 September 2001 Attacks, Urges
Member States to Work for Convention on Terrorism during Upcoming Session
Day of Sorrow Recalled as Deputy Secretary-General,
United States Permanent Representative also Address Ceremony
Amid a commemoration ceremony marking the tenth anniversary of the attacks against the United States on 11 September 2001, the President of the General Assembly today called on Member States to work for the swift conclusion of a draft general convention on terrorism during the world body’s upcoming sixty-sixth session.
“We are here to express our indignation at the cowardice of terrorism, condemn it firmly and categorically, combat it and see that the guilty are punished,” said Joseph Deiss (Switzerland), President of the Assembly’s sixty-fifth session, in opening remarks. The ceremony also heard from Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro and Susan Rice, Permanent Representative of the United States.
Mr. Deiss recalled the shock, horror and disbelief occasioned by the loss of thousands of lives during the 2001 attacks, the recent bombing of the United Nations House in Abuja, Nigeria, and myriad other events that had made terrorism a global scourge. Noting that progress had been made in fighting it through the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy coupled with efforts in development, human rights and security, such efforts must be intensified without delay, given the proliferation of terrorist threats and actions.
He called on Member States to use the opportunity provided by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s initiative to hold a symposium on international counter-terrorism during September’s high-level week to move towards adopting the necessary complements to the existing international anti-terrorism instruments.
Ms. Migiro recalled that she had been in her office in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania, on “that terrible day when dreams were shattered and wounds were opened that would never heal”. It had been three years after the attack on the United States embassy in that city, the blast from which she had felt and which she had later learned had claimed the life of a friend. So on 11 September 2001, “despite the distance, I felt very close”, she said. “I know many people around the world felt the same way.”
Describing the attacks as attacks on the entire international community and its basic values, she asked all Assembly members to put themselves in the shoes of terrorism victims and intensify their work not only on security, but also on building bridges of trust and mutual understanding. They should give voice to the victims, build preventive diplomacy and work to keep States from falling into chaos, in order to fight such wanton destruction, seek justice, promote peace and build a better and more secure future for generations to come.
Ms. Rice thanked the international community for joining together in “this solemn hour” in the city where thousands had died, while at the same time lives had been lost at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Men, women and children from 90 countries had been targeted in those attacks, she noted, adding that the world had joined together in shock and sorrow.
She paid tribute to the swift and sure actions of the Assembly and the Security Council in condemning the attacks and beginning to reinforce the international counter-terrorism framework. Recounting the joint actions of the United Nations and its allies to conduct a war against Al-Qaida that no one wanted, she said that a decade later, that organization had been disrupted and justice had been brought to Osama bin Laden, “who will never again kill innocents”.
Ms. Rice pledged that her country would continue to work with all partners in continuing to disrupt the terrorist group’s operations and to take all necessary measures to prevent further attacks, and called on the international community to remain vigilant but also confident in its ability to overcome hateful ideologies.
For those who lost love ones, “every day is a day of sorrow”, she said. For their sake and that of the victims, she called for the reaffirmation of a basic tenet: “Never condone terrorism, never make excuses for it, never forget.” The international community should work to promote “one human family, united in loss and love”.
Music for the commemoration was provided by the New York City Symphony, featuring, as soloists, gospel singer Mzuri Moyo performing “Still I Rise” and counter-tenor David D’Or in “Amazing Grace”. Asatira Lenard of the Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem read the poem “The Names” by Billy Collins.
Presiding over a minute of silence and an interfaith candle-lighting were Rabbi Richard Marker, Imam Khalid Latif, Reverend Robert J. Robbins and Reverend Masamichi Kamiya.
The General Assembly will meet again on a date to be announced.
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