Speakers Urge That Differences Be Resolved in Draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, as Sixth Committee Begins Session

GA/L/3475
7 October 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 1st & 2nd Meetings (AM & PM)

Speakers Urge That Differences Be Resolved in Draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, as Sixth Committee Begins Session

Pointing to the rapid and destructive spread of terrorism and terrorist acts throughout the world, speaker after speaker urged the Sixth Committee (Legal) to overcome differences and find consensus on a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, as they began consideration of the matter.

Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, emphasized that, in light of the “numerous shocking atrocities” currently taking place around the world, progress on the convention must be made, encouraging all delegations to take on the challenge.

Trinidad and Tobago’s representative, speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), supported his call, saying “the only beneficiaries of [the] protracted failure to adopt a comprehensive convention on terrorism have been the international criminals who continue to carry out their crimes with impunity.”  A convention would facilitate measures on the prosecution of terrorists and strengthen States’ — especially small States’ — capacity to confront terrorism.  However, States must resolve their differences and agree on a definition of terrorism.

Echoing his counterpart, the representative of Pakistan also stressed that a comprehensive convention must clearly differentiate between acts of terrorism and legitimate struggles for self-determination of people living under foreign occupation.  He asked whether the United Nations should revamp its strategy, given that “the monster of terrorism seemed to be getting bigger” and was being used as an instrument for “asymmetric warfare”.

Lebanon’s delegate pointed out that, despite the international community’s call that terrorism had no religious, ethnic or national identity, there were still too many people who continued to associate terrorism with Islam, which then fed “Islamophobia”.  He called for a culture of dialogue and tolerance among religions and civilizations, stressing the importance of preventing terrorism, particularly through education.

Joining virtually every speaker, the delegate from the United States said that “all acts of aggression — by whomever committed — are criminal, inhumane and unjustifiable, regardless of motivation.”  Recognizing the significant accomplishments of the international community in developing a robust legal regime, she said that the 18 universal counterterrorism instruments were only effective if they were widely ratified and implemented.

Nigeria’s delegate concurred, underscoring that terrorism had become a regular occurrence and constituted one of the deadliest threats to international peace and security.  Because it would take a network to defeat a network, there must be an all-inclusive regional and international approach for its defeat.

At the onset of the meeting, Argentina’s delegate memorialized Alejandra Quezada of Chile, and a former member of the Sixth Committee, who had recently passed away.  Her many contributions to international and national law were acknowledged and a moment of silence was observed in her memory.

Also speaking were representatives of Iran (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Australia, also for Canada and New Zealand, Egypt (on behalf of Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Russian Federation (also on behalf of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization), European Union, Costa Rica (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Belarus, United Arab Emirates, Nicaragua, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Qatar, South Africa (on behalf of the African Group), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Paraguay, Guatemala, Colombia, Sudan, Senegal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, United Republic of Tanzania, Liechtenstein, Ukraine, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Serbia, Ecuador and the Republic of Korea.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Afghanistan, Israel and Ukraine.

The Sixth Committee (Legal) will next meet at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, 8 October, to continue its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism.

Background

The Committee had before it two documents relating to its programme of work, Organization of Work (document A/69/C.6/69/L.1) and Allocation of Agenda Items to the Sixth Committee (document A/69/C.6/69/1).

The Committee was then set to consider the Secretary-General’s report on Measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/69/209).

Opening Remarks

MIGUEL DE SERPA SOARES, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, reviewed “an impressive list of [the Sixth Committee’s] achievements”, covering a broad range of areas.  He stressed the three counter-terrorism Conventions recently negotiated by the Committee, further commending its role in the adoption of the Rome Statute.

Noting that the Committee would create a working group toward finalizing a general convention on international terrorism, he emphasized the importance of making progress in light of the ”numerous shocking atrocities” currently taking place around the world.  He encouraged all delegations to take on the challenge.

Organizational Matters

The Committee, at its thirtieth meeting on 18 June of this year, had elected three Vice-Chairpersons:  Hossein Gharibi (Iran); Fernanda Millicay (Argentina) and Mirza Pasic (Bosnia and Herzegovina).  The Committee had also elected Salvatore Zappala (Italy) as its Rapporteur. 

The Committee next took note of the 21 items allocated to it by the General Assembly on 19 September (see Press Release GA/11551).

Two working groups were established for the following agenda items: “The scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction” and “Measures to eliminate international terrorism”.  With regard to the latter, it was decided that Amrith Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka), who had chaired that working group since 2000, would continue to do so.  The Committee then approved its programme of work.

Statements

GHOLAM HOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized that terrorist acts constituted a flagrant violation of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law.  However, 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.  Further, terrorism should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.  Those attributes must not be used to justify terrorism or counter-terrorist measures that included, inter alia, profiling of terror suspects and intrusion on individual privacy.

He urged all States to fulfil their obligations under international law in combating terrorism.  However, States should not use force or the threat of force against any Non-Aligned Movement member under the pretext of countering terrorism or to pursue political aims.  Nor should the unilateral preparation of lists accusing States of allegedly supporting terrorism be used against a member.  States should refrain from extending any means of support for terrorism, ensuring that refugee and other legal statuses not be abused by terrorists.

All States that had not yet done so should consider ratifying or acceding to the thirteen international instruments relating to combating terrorism, and implement their provisions and all relevant regional instruments, he said.  In addition, the Security Council sanction committees should streamline their listing and delisting procedures to address concerns of due process and transparency.  An International Summit Conference should formulate a joint response by the international community to terrorism in all its forms, including identifying the root causes and reaffirmed support for the United Nations Global Counterterrorism Strategy.  Condemning incidences of criminal hostage-taking with demands for ransom and/or other political concessions, he called on all States to cooperate to address the issue.

JULIA O’BRIEN (Australia), speaking also for Canada and New Zealand, said it had been 13 years since September 11, 2001, yet international terrorism remained a serious threat to global peace and security.  Civilian populations continued to face well-armed and well-resourced terrorist organizations.  Those risks were compounded by rising numbers of foreign terrorist fighters and radicalized extremists.  As such, the world had a responsibility to prevent and respond to that threat consistently and in a coordinated manner based on common goals.

She expressed continued support for the Ad Hoc Committee in elaborating a draft comprehensive convention.  Recognizing that differences remained between delegations, she expressed eagerness to discuss which mode of consideration was the most effective approach in taking the Committee’s work forward.  Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) provided a robust framework to prevent and suppress recruitment and organization of foreign terrorist fighters.

She said more must be done to stop paying ransom, as it undermined the international community’s hard work to degrade terrorist organizations.  Such efforts were critical to preventing terrorist access to financial resources.  However, effectiveness of those measures depended on the capacity of Member States to implement them.  She underscored a continued commitment to take decisive action to address the scourge of terrorism and to work with other delegations to eliminate the threat of terrorism once and for all.

AMR EL-HAMAMY (Egypt), speaking for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), denounced atrocities committed by terrorists around the world and stressed that they contradicted the practices and principles of Islam.  No religion or religious doctrine encouraged or inspired acts of terrorism, and therefore, none should be portrayed as such.  He strongly condemned some politicians’ attempts to link Islam with terrorism, noting that such attempts played in the hands of terrorists and constituted an advocacy of religious hatred, discrimination and hostility against Muslims.

Reaffirming the OIC’s commitment to strengthening mutual cooperation, he said that only a coordinated approach by the international community would yield effective results.  Further, a comprehensive strategy must address the root causes of terrorism, such as the unlawful use of force, aggression and political and economic injustice, among others.

He reiterated the need to distinguish between terrorism and the exercise of the legitimate right of peoples to resist foreign occupation, noting that such distinction was duly observed in international law and international humanitarian law.  He also called for cooperation in banning the payment of ransoms to terrorist groups.  Underscoring the need to make progress on the draft comprehensive convention, he emphasized his determination to resolve outstanding issues, including those related to the legal definition of terrorism and voiced support for the convening of a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations.

KHAINE PHAN SOURIVONG (Lao People's Democratic Republic), speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), emphasized that terrorism undermined international peace and security and hindered development efforts.  He delineated ASEAN’s collective efforts at the regional and international levels to fight international terrorism, which were in line with the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and all relevant United Nations conventions and resolutions, noting that ASEAN’s primary framework for cooperation was its Convention on Counter-Terrorism.

He went on to underscore that human rights and the provision of fundamental freedoms must be ensured while fighting terrorism.  The main principles of international law, especially international humanitarian and human rights law, should be respected.  He called on Member States to implement the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, including the Organization’s relevant conventions and resolutions, and to address outstanding issues in order to produce a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism.

EVGENY ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation), speaking for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, expressed grave concern over the expansion of terrorist ideology.  The condemnation of terrorism must be an intrinsic part of the dialogue between religions and civilizations.  Also important in the fight against terrorism were partnerships between States, civil society, mass media and the private sector.

During the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Summit, recently held in Dushanbe, its leaders had reaffirmed their determination to strengthen the coordination of joint efforts in the fight against terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and organized crime, he said.  The Organization would also continue to improve the functioning of its specialized entity, the Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure, which coordinated work between the authorities of its member States and maintained the necessary information exchange.  In that regard, he proposed increased interaction between the Structure and corresponding United Nations agencies.

Regional security was a top priority in Central Asia, where terrorist and narcotic threats from Afghanistan were major destabilizing factors, he went on to say.  A dangerous nexus between terrorism and organized crime, especially drug-related crime, formed in that region.  Noting the withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan by the end of this year, he called for the implementation of United Nations decisions and partnership among States and organizations in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.

EGLANTINE CUJO, European Union Delegation, said that the current uprising of the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS)” posed a threat to peace and security beyond Syria, Iraq and the Middle East.  Condemning the indiscriminate killings and human rights abuses perpetrated by terrorist organizations, she said that the international community must respond jointly and redouble efforts to work within the framework of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  Member States must ensure that measures taken complied with international law, human rights law, refugee law and humanitarian law.  Member States and relevant United Nations entities should also promote measures ensuring solidarity and assistance to victims, such as the recently launched Web Portal for Victims.

Noting the need to prevent radicalization and recruitment to terrorism, she said the Union had revised its strategy to prevent radicalization through establishment of a “Knowledge Hub” to collate and disseminate best practices.  The Union was also committed to tackle the threat of foreign terrorist fighters with a comprehensive, strategic approach.  Because countering financing was key to combating terrorism, the Union was cooperating with the private sector, sharing financial intelligence and information.  Measures had also been adopted to facilitate implementation of Security Council resolution 2133 (2014) on preventing ransoms to terrorists.

Listing the numerous United Nations entities with which the Union cooperated, she expressed hope for continued transparent and cooperative work, while avoiding duplication of efforts.  Due process and fair and clear procedures in sanctions regimes should be strengthened.  She detailed cooperative strategies at the regional level in the Horn of Africa, Yemen and Pakistan, and recognized the potential of religious and traditional leaders in combatting radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism at early stages.  She called for all Member States to ratify and implement all United Nations legal instruments relating to counter-terrorism and expressed commitment to successfully concluding a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.

GEORGINA GUILLÉN-GRILLO (Costa Rica), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), expressed support for the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and said the Community had actively participated in the Fourth Review of the Strategy, which took place in June this year.  Deeply concerned with the increasing flow of international recruits to terrorist organizations, including foreign terrorist fighters, she encouraged all Member States to address the threat through enhanced cooperation and development of relevant measures.

The protection of the right to privacy was crucial in safeguarding individuals against an abuse of power, she said.  As such, she was deeply concerned about the negative impact that State surveillance and/or interception of communications, including extraterritorially, might have on the exercise and enjoyment of human rights.  She also reiterated rejection of the unilateral elaboration of blacklists, accusing States of allegedly supporting and sponsoring terrorism, noting the practice’s inconsistency with international law.

She said the Community recognized steps taken by the Security Council 1267/1989 Sanctions Committee towards more clear procedures and, in that regard, strongly supported the role of the Ombudsperson, which had significantly improved the fairness and transparency of the delisting process.  The position of Ombudsperson must be made permanent and due process further enhanced in the Security Council sanctions regimes.  She called upon all Member States to continue negotiations and efforts to achieve a comprehensive convention on terrorism, voicing hope that substantial results could lead to a high-level conference on terrorism.

LIZANNE ACHING (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and associating herself with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that terrorism had implications for the survival of nations, good governance and the sustainable development of all Member States.  The elimination of international terrorism was a key priority on the regional security agenda.  CARICOM was committed to addressing conditions conducive to its spread, building State capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and ensuring respect for human rights and the rule of law as fundamental bases in the fight.  Several CARICOM member States had enacted and implemented legislation to prevent and counter acts of international terrorism.

She called for greater support from the United Nations system to supplement those efforts through the provision of technical and other forms of assistance to the region.  The global strategy against terrorism must include the finalization of negotiations on the draft comprehensive convention.  States must resolve their differences and agree on the definition of terrorism.  “The only beneficiaries of [the] protracted failure to adopt a comprehensive convention on terrorism have been the international criminals who continue to carry out their crimes with impunity,” she said.  The convention would, among other things, facilitate measures on the prosecution of terrorists and strengthen States’ — especially small States’ — capacity to confront terrorism.

DMITRY SPRESOV (Belarus), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, confirmed his country’s commitment to a comprehensive and depoliticized cooperation in the implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, international treaties to combat terrorism and corresponding resolutions of the Security Council.  Citing new trends in terrorism, such as the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, new information and communication technologies, foreign fighters and the question of personal inviolability in combating terrorism, he said the work of the Committee and its special working group on the subject would be vital to a reasoned discussion.

His country’s efforts to combat terrorism had received high marks during the country visit of the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee, he said.  Unfortunately, however, every day was a confirmation that there were no countries or regions that were immune to terrorist threats.  The lack of progress on the draft comprehensive convention was alarming.  Stressing that trends in terrorism required a quick response, he called on all interested parties to exercise flexibility in talks and actions in order to confirm their commitment in the fight against the scourge.

GORDON BRISTOL (Nigeria) said that terrorism had become a regular occurrence, which constituted one of the deadliest threats to international peace and security.  Because it would take a network to defeat a network, there must be an all-inclusive regional and international approach for its defeat. In that regard, he expressed support for the establishment of a working group to finalize a comprehensive draft convention on the matter.

A recent upsurge of terrorist acts by Boko Haram in his country had led to the development of new national plans and greater cooperation with neighbours and internationally, he said.  Recently, a plan of action that addressed the “terrorist cycle, from radicalization to rehabilitation” had been established, and included de-radicalizing convicted terrorists and suspects awaiting trial; galvanizing society against terrorism through family, cultural and religious systems; building capacity to articulate national values coherently and recognizing the causes of terrorism.  Furthermore, the increase in cyber threats capable of causing mass disruption imperilled global commerce and communications.  An equally interconnected response was needed from the international community.  In order to resolve the war against terrorism all States must ensure full compliance with all relevant conventions and resolutions.

ZUHOOR AL MEQBAALI (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the OIC and Non-Aligned Movement, said that while serious forms of international terrorism could be seen today in the Middle East, North Africa and Sahel countries, terrorist activity was not limited to those regions.  International terrorism was spreading to all countries around the world and all countries were a source of growing armies of mercenaries and foreign fighters.

She said her country had enacted legislation to combat terrorism and had signed 13 international conventions on counter-terrorism, which had helped strengthen its monitoring mechanism and stop the use of its territory, air space and waters as a basis for committing terrorist acts.  Legislation had also been adopted dealing with sanctions on those found to have committed terrorist acts.  A study was being conducted that investigated blocking the network of terrorists using media to recruit people.  Policies were in place to fight money laundering and illegal commerce.  An international conference should be convened to help clearly define terrorism.

JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, condemned all forms of terrorism, including State terrorism, from which his country had suffered.  Expressing solidarity with the people of Palestine, he said the Security Council must ensure that Israel cease its occupation.  He also voiced solidarity with the Government and people of Syria, stating that foreign intervention must be stopped.  It was regrettable that, rather than engaging in dialogue, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries were taking unilateral actions, including bombing sovereign countries in the name of peace.  He also rejected unilateral sanctions, which, he said, violated international law.

The United Nations must be the principle organization to guarantee world peace, he said.  Demanding the immediate release of Cuban anti-terrorist patriots from a United States prison, he condemned the unilateral listing of States supporting terrorism, stating that Cuba should be struck from such lists.  The double standard could not continue to be normal diplomacy in combatting terrorism.  That fight must be coordinated within international law.  A comprehensive convention to combat terrorism that recorded all its forms should be established.

JONATHAN DOWDALL (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, noted the alarming increase in threat from ISIL, with the impact most severe in Iraq and Syria where people had witnessed numerous atrocities.  The brutal murder of two American journalists and two British aid workers, almost certainly by a foreign terrorist fighter from the United Kingdom, was stark evidence that ISIL and organizations such as the al-Nusra Front were recruiting new fighters from all over the world.  The international community must focus strongly on tackling the “poisonous” ideologies of violent extremism.  For that reason, his Government had called for a United Nations Special Representative on extremism.

He said ISIL was sitting on extensive assets, yet also relied heavily on income generation.  The international community must work to disrupt that income where possible, including suppressing the market for stolen oil, tackling the illicit trade in antiquities, and sanctioning those who trade with such groups and raise funds for them.  The vicious cycle caused by paying ransom from kidnappings must also be broken.  The unprecedented number of individuals traveling to conflict zones, such as Syria, to fight with terrorist groups, also needed to be disrupted.  Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) was particularly pertinent in that regard.

GONZALO KONCKE (Uruguay), associating himself with CELAC, spoke of two visits from the Counter-Terrorism Committee to his country, the first in 2012, which resulted in a report indicating that the country was on the right path in its counter-terrorism efforts and made several recommendations.  A follow-up visit by the Committee also offered support, which would be of benefit domestically and to the international community. 

Turning to money-laundering, he pointed out that, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), funds from organized crime supported terrorism by some $2 trillion dollars annually.  He expressed concern at the recruitment of foreign fighters and the use of media to display executions and expressed hope that those issues would be addressed.  The need to find a definition of terrorism was “no small work”, he said, but expressed optimism that a consensus would be reached.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), noting that greater cooperation was critical to expedite the conclusion of an international convention, reiterated that the document should include a specific definition of terrorism that distinguished between terrorism and the legitimate right of peoples to self-determination.  She also expressed support for an international conference on the subject.

Totalitarian and oppressive dictatorships against people who aspired to social justice had contributed to circumstances leading to the growth of terrorism, she said.  The linking of religion to terrorism also fostered the growth of extremist organizations and helped brainwash recruits.  Her country, in cooperation with the Global Counter Terrorism Forum, had hosted a workshop in March of this year on countering violent extremism and had provided $5 million for the establishment of a global forum fund.   At the national level, it had approved new legislation including banning the use of electronic tools for terrorist purposes.

THEMBILE ELPHUS JOYINI (South Africa), speaking for the African Group, said all nations had an interest in being more proactive and adopting a preventive approach in combating terrorism.  Stressing the importance of concluding a comprehensive convention for combating international terrorism, he called upon States to resolve the outstanding issues.  Serious consideration should be given to convening a high-level conference to formulate an international response to terrorism.

He expressed concern at the increase in kidnappings and hostage-taking aimed at raising funds or gaining political concessions.  The payment of ransoms to terrorist groups was one of their main sources of financing.  Member States should work together to address the issue.  Welcoming initiatives for cooperation between the Organization and regional groups, he said such efforts were important to strengthen the capacity of African countries towards adoption of coordinated approaches to counter-terrorism.  Effective implementation of relevant conventions and related United Nations resolutions, as well as capacity-building in developing countries, were vital to a well-functioning universal international law approach.

ZÉNON MUKONGO NGAY (Democratic Republic of the Congo), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said that the idea of peace through law was in opposition to terrorism, and the combining of domestic law of States and international instruments listed in the Secretary-General’s report should become a reality.  The jurisdiction of State courts and tribunals should be established to prosecute those alleged of committing terrorist acts with guarantee of due process.  His country had participated in regional and sub-regional counter-terrorism activities, such as in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Southern African Development Community, and would also participate in a workshop to combat terrorism regionally.  Noting that a comprehensive convention would complement the content of existing sectorial tools to strengthen the legal counter-terrorism framework, he called on other delegations to conclude the debate on that question.

JOSÉ ANTONIO DOS SANTOS (Paraguay), associating himself with CELAC, said his country was implementing the Global Strategy based on its four pillars.  In recent years, his country had ratified 13 international instruments combating terrorism as well as a number of regional instruments.  Furthermore, the Financial Action Task Force had recognized the work of his Government in fighting funding for terrorism.  Giving a detailed overview of his country’s national initiatives, he underscored that the fight against terrorism must respect international law and human rights, which was essential to eradicating the scourge.

CRISTINA RODRÍGUEZ PINEDA (Guatemala), associating her delegation with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the United Nations must act as a leader in coordinating efforts against terrorism and all countries must demonstrate a concerted response.  Only with effective cooperation would the international community be able to have an effective and sustainable response to terrorism on a global level.  Emphasizing the importance of regional and sub-regional components, she said the Organization of American States had acquired valuable experience in counter-terrorism within the inter-American system.  The efficiency of efforts was related to their ability to successfully face conditions which fuelled that phenomenon.  Nonetheless, it was critical to adopt a comprehensive convention as soon as possible.  The Sixth Committee was essential in that endeavour.  She expressed concerns with respect to the Security Council’s decisions on ransom payment to terrorist groups, stressing that the subject was not yet governed by international law and also represented terminology and legal concepts that were diverse.

EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia), associating herself with CELAC, said that the Global Strategy’s four pillars were of equal importance and should be implemented in a balanced manner.  The payment of ransom as a funding source was of great concern.  It must be made clear that victims of kidnapping were at risk of losing their lives and, at least temporarily, their freedom.  Those trying to aid the victims should not be made criminals for doing so.  In addition, the increased number of foreign fighters greatly affected the stability of certain regions in the world.  The radicalization that led to violent extremism must be addressed.  However, all measures must be in line with all aspects of international law and must respect human rights.  Stereotyping and restrictions on travellers must be avoided.  The international community must also adopt measures to address money laundering, as well as the illicit transfer of arms.  The fight against terrorism would fail without a comprehensive convention.  It was time to make final decisions on the matter, however difficult that might be.  The convention would strengthen existing legal instruments.  Defining terrorism in the multilateral forum would demonstrate the Organization’s commitment.

IDREES MOHAMMED ALI MOHAMMED SAEED (Sudan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, the OIC and the African Group, said his country had ratified numerous international conventions, as well as regional ones on counter-terrorism, and had participated in OIC efforts, as well.  At the national level, the Government had adopted and implemented a national strategy following consultations with civil society.  A law against money laundering and terrorism financing had been modified, providing a framework for protecting the national economy and combating corruption.  A new law had also been adopted to combat human trafficking, and workshops and conferences had been held towards strengthening international cooperation in that regard.  Initiatives on raising awareness about counterterrorism activities were being implemented with religious authorities, women and youth.  The media was also being used to combat terrorism, appeal to moderation, and combat cybercrime.  With Saudi Arabia’s support, Sudan had participated in Riyadh in the initiative to combat terrorism.  Stressing that combating poverty and strengthening dialogue between north and south countries, among other things, were critical to a peaceful existence, he “refused” unilateral measures which would accuse some countries of supporting terrorism to attain political ends.  Terrorism must be fought with cooperation.

FODE SECK (Senegal), associating himself with the OIC, the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement said that combating terrorism required coordinated efforts under the aegis of the United Nations.  Initiatives promoting dialogue among different civilizations, cultures and religions were needed.  His country’s national approach included prevention, aimed at stemming terrorists’ means and ability to cause harm, as well as legislation and strategic communication with religious leaders.  Senegal had also ratified 13 of the 19 international instruments relating to terrorism, among other actions.  Another national initiative was his Government’s quick response to punish perpetrators and assure the protection of populations and assistance to victims.  In that context, he welcomed the Victims of Terrorism Web Portal.  He expressed concern at the rise in foreign fighters, coming from more than 80 countries, and welcomed the initiative to better understand terrorism in order to address it.  He also appealed to the international community to support efforts by the countries of Sahel and West Africa.

MIRZA PASIC (Bosnia and Herzegovina), aligning himself with the European Union, said his country had harmonised its legislation with United Nations and European Union standards, and had adopted a national strategy for combating terrorism.  In June of this year, it had amended its criminal code to prohibit participation of its citizens on foreign battlefields and to allow prosecution of those who joined terrorist activities, encouraged them or supported their financing.  Recalling Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) on the threat of foreign terrorist fighters, he said his country had continued to reaffirm its commitment to fight and prevent terrorism by co-sponsoring that resolution.  It had also signed and ratified all relevant United Nations conventions and protocols on the fight against terrorism.  He expressed support for the establishment of a working group on international terrorism at its current session and advocated completion and adoption of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. 

MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and OIC, asked whether the United Nations should revamp its strategy, given that “the monster of terrorism seemed to be getting bigger” and was being used as an instrument for asymmetric warfare.  Noting that his country was engaged in an “unrelenting war” against terrorism on its own soil that had cost 50,000 lives and financial losses exceeding $100 billion, he spoke of his country’s multi-pronged strategy, through military actions, but also through education, assuring that counter-terrorism measures conformed to international obligations and through legislation.

“A dialogue among civilizations is an absolute imperative to prevent divergences in attitudes and thoughts from becoming fodder for […] terrorist ideologies,” he said, stressing that the Counter-Terrorism Strategy should address the defamation of certain religions and the demonization of their communities that acted as incitement to hatred.  He also demanded the cessation of drone strikes in Pakistan’s border areas, which violated sovereignty and the principles of international and humanitarian law.  The comprehensive convention on terrorism must clearly differentiate between acts of terrorism and legitimate struggles for self-determination of people living under foreign occupation.

Mr. HITT (Lebanon), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and OIC, said the Committee’s discussion must focus on the most effective way to bolster collective action and efforts to eradicate, once and for all, a scourge that had been plaguing societies for too long.  The adoption of Security Council resolution 2170 (2014) and resolution 2178 (2014) served as a strong signal of the international community’s determination to eliminate that threat.  Stressing the importance of prevention, particularly through education, and the promotion of a culture of dialogue and tolerance among religions and civilizations, he said the latter aspect needed greater emphasis given the current situation in the Middle East.  Despite the international community’s call that terrorism had no religious, ethnic or national identity, there were still too many people who continued to associate terrorism with Islam, which then fed “Islamophobia”.  Root causes, such as poverty, social exclusion and impunity that might lead to violent extremism and radicalism must also be addressed.  Terrorist groups exploit those weaknesses and flaws to fuel their hate speech and spread their ideology.

RY TUY (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN, said to date his country had ratified all important United Nations conventions and protocols, as well as the ASEAN Convention on Counter-Terrorism.  In addition, it had enacted important laws and regulations, such as the Criminal Code and the Law on Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing.  His Government was in the process of setting forth the “Safe Village, Safe Commune Policy”, incorporating the participation of villagers and civil society organizations, including political parties, to ensure safety and security in villages and communes throughout the country.  Noting that Cambodia had focused on inter-agency cooperation at the national level, he hoped to share best practices with other States for the successful prevention and suppression of international terrorism. 

AHMED AL-OJARI (Yemen), associating himself with the OIC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said it was necessary to complete a comprehensive convention, which included a clear definition that distinguished between terrorism and legitimate resistance against occupation.  His country had co-sponsored Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) and adopted in 2012 a strategic matrix to counter-terrorism, dry up terrorist resources and financing and raise awareness of the threat and dangers posed by terrorism and extremism.  It had also issued legislation to counter money laundering and financing of terrorism and had criminalized, in particular, participation in terrorist activities, including incitement.  Despite his country’s suffering from the scourge of terrorism, its efforts to counter terrorism, in particular, Al Qaeda, were continuing and gaining pace.  Yemen’s armed forces had been able to deal lethal strikes against Al Qaeda and had gained control over many of the areas that were controlled by terrorists.  It had also destroyed safe havens used for planning and training.  Al Qaeda was now weaker than before, despite his country’s limited resources.  He called on international and regional partners to provide logistical and technical assistance and expand frameworks of coordination and information exchange in the fight against terrorism.

NURAN NIYAZALIEV (Kyrgyzstan), associating himself with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, reiterated support for all measures adopted within the United Nations framework on combating international terrorism.  His country had joined most of the Organization’s existing conventions, and was taking steps to implement Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) on addressing the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters.  Voicing support for the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, he called for a High-level conference to formulate a joint organized response to terrorism and elaborate its common definition.  It was not possible to overcome terrorism by force, which generated negative results.  Kyrgyzstan was using “soft power” to counter the causes of terrorism, such as improving the social and economic situation, reducing poverty, creating jobs, fighting corruption and reforming the legal and judicial systems.  He further underlined the difficulties that a lack of expertise and resources presented for many countries, particularly in implementing the recent Security Council resolution.

HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia), associating his delegation with the Non-Aligned Movement, OIC and ASEAN, called for the early conclusion of a comprehensive convention on terrorism, adding that such a convention would complement other existing international conventions.  Resistance to foreign aggression and the struggle of peoples under foreign occupation was legitimate and terrorist acts perpetrated by States and non-State actors should be treated alike.  It was essential to share ideas and expertise in de-radicalization and counter-radicalization programmes.  Member States must keep pace with the latest tactics of terrorist operations, in particular, the increased use of the internet to disseminate their propaganda.  His country had recently amended its anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing act to enhance the investigative powers of law enforcement agencies and had signed and ratified ASEAN’s Convention on Counter-Terrorism.

TULLY M. MWAIPOPO (United Republic of Tanzania), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that her country was party to nine universal counter-terrorism instruments and one regional instrument.  It had also undertaken administrative and legislative steps, including the enactment of relevant laws and the establishment of inter-agency entities that coordinated the Government’s counter-terrorism efforts.  Nonetheless, her country continued to face several challenges.  Small arms, light weapons and their ammunitions remained the most commonly used means of terrorist attacks.  Conflicts and instability, especially in the Great Lakes region and Somalia, had given rise to illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons that abetted terrorist acts.  Furthermore, the porous borders in the region had been a precursor for terrorists to move in and out unchecked.  Poor border security had led to the spread of transnational crimes such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, fire arms smuggling and money laundering.  Given the complex nature of terrorism, she called for an integrated and coordinated response by the international community.

STEFAN BARRIGA (Liechtenstein) said that while he hoped that the Security Council resolution on foreign terrorist fighters would be fully implemented, he had hoped for a more detailed emphasis on the need to respect fundamental human rights, and, in particular, due process rights.  There was a real risk that measures could be interpreted too broadly or used as a pretext for repressive action.  Noting that many of the international conventions dealing with terrorist crimes required the State of nationality to establish jurisdiction over terrorist offenses committed by their nationals abroad, he said now would be a good time to take stock of the actual impact of those conventions and the extent of their practical application.  Recent events should motivate the Committee to conclude its work on a draft counter-terrorism convention, which would fill the gaps between the various “sectoral” conventions.  Reiterating his country’s proposal to better align the Committee’s work with the Plenary’s consideration of the Counter-Terrorism strategy, he stressed that there was no need to have a general debate on the issue twice within a few months.  The Plenary’s biennial consideration should replace the Sixth Committee debate and resolution on essentially the same topic.

OLEKSANDR PAVLICHENKO (Ukraine), aligning his delegation with the European Union, called upon all Member States that had not done so to join all international instruments on the matter, noting that his country was party to over 20 such instruments.  Nuclear terrorism was one of terrorism’s most dangerous forms.  Despite the foreign aggression his country was experiencing, Ukraine was committed to eliminating all of its nuclear materials.  His Government had been conducting counter-terrorism activities in the east of the country since March.  The situation demonstrated that the international community must redouble its efforts.

To that end, he called on all States to finalize work on the draft convention, suggesting that the 2007 proposals might serve as a good basis.  On the domestic front, he said that a neighbour was violating international laws on terrorism and was supporting terrorist activities in his country.  The Declaration of the International Conference on Terrorism of 1987 could be taken as the basis for a new, legally binding instrument in the field.  He urged the Russian Federation to cease all actions that might constitute a crime and expressed hope that there would be sincere dialogue between the countries in the near future.

KIM YONG SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), associating his delegation with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the United Nations must double its efforts to put an end to terrorism, while ensuring those efforts be conducted in accordance with the Charter and international law, stipulating respect for sovereign equality and non-interference.  Armed invasions and interference in other States’ internal affairs committed under the pretext of fighting terrorism were bound to trigger retaliation and massive bloodshed.  In addition, States’ categorizing other States as sponsors of terrorism and imposing sanctions on them only served to create obstacles in international efforts to combat terrorism.  Because such State terrorism could not be justified in any cases, the comprehensive convention must cover the issue of eradication.  Also, the text should prioritize the removal of terrorism’s root causes, such as domination and interference, poverty and social inequalities, and racial or religious discrimination, among others.  Only when root causes were eliminated could counter-terrorism efforts yield expected results.  He expressed support for a high-level meeting on terrorism, noting that for its part, his country had signed key international conventions and was amending or supplementing relevant laws to ban financial support to terrorism. 

BORIS HOLOVKA (Serbia), aligning his delegation with the European Union, said that in suppressing terrorism, all elements that contributed to its spread must be considered, as must its financing.  The sudden rise in numbers of foreign terrorist fighters coincided with the development of communication technology and social networks.  Force alone was not sufficient to meet that challenge.  Banning recruitment and transport of potential foreign terrorist fighters through appropriate national legislation and engaging local communities in suppressing violent extremism would be a first step.  In that regard, he saw the adoption of Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) as significant.  Draft amendments were pending in his country’s Parliament on the matter.  Noting that the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee had appraised Serbia as one of the countries with the most significant counter-terrorist capacities, he said the country stood ready to offer expertise to others in the region.

EVGENY ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) called for a “stepping-up” of international cooperation to prevent terrorism, including the halting of the illegal oil trade and prohibiting of the spread of weapons from Libya.  It was also important to reduce the attractiveness of terrorism and eliminate terror’s use of the media and internet.  Broad dialogue could make positive contributions in education and research, and promote tolerance and mutual understanding.  While the primary responsibility for carrying out the Counter-Terrorism Strategy lied with Member States, the United Nations must focus on strengthening the legal basis for counter-terrorism.  Agreement upon a universal convention would be a leap forward in that regard.

The Ukrainian representative’s allegations against his country were absolutely inadmissible and demonstrated a lack of understanding of the essence of terrorism, he went on to say.  Kyiv had continued terrorist activities and had carried out a punitive operation using a broad arsenal of military means on civilians.  Instead of dialogue, Kyiv had ignored norms of international law as well as moral ideas by bombing cities and infrastructure, he said, stressing that the number of victims from such criminal acts counted in the hundreds.

PATRICIO TROYA (Ecuador), associating his delegation with the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, said that the fight against terrorism must be conducted within international law, including humanitarian law and with respect for national sovereignty.  Unilateral measures were useless and only worsened the situation.  The only military actions that had any legitimacy were those taken through the Security Council.  The Global Strategy was the best route to combat terrorism.  Attaching importance to regional organizations, he said that knowledge of local cultures was of great importance to combatting terrorism.  He also rejected lists, compiled unilaterally, of countries supporting terrorism and the inclusion of Cuba on such lists.  Supporting the implementation of open consultations on the convention on international terrorism that would consider all points of view, he voiced support for convening a high-level meeting on the topic.

LEE MOON-HEE (Republic of Korea) said, as host of the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace in 2013, his country had strived to raise awareness on the importance of promoting international cooperation to reduce emerging threats stemming from the malicious use of information and communication technology.  That heightened awareness had become more relevant given terrorists’ use of those technologies to spread their ideology, expand their networks and develop more sophisticated financing methods.  Stressing the persistence and severity of terrorist attacks, which violated and destroyed humanity, he said it was time for States to reaffirm their political will, redouble their efforts and exercise flexibility in order to bring negotiations on a comprehensive convention to a close.

CAROL HAMILTON (United States) said that “all acts of terrorism – committed by whomever– are criminal, inhumane and unjustifiable, regardless of motivation.”  To succeed in preventing such heinous acts, an unwavering and united effort by the international community was critical.  Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) obligated States to criminalize certain activities related to the threat of foreign terrorist fighters.  It would be fruitful to exchange views with colleagues on implementation of the resolution, as well as enable those States that so wished to obtain technical assistance.  

While the international community’s accomplishments in developing a robust legal counterterrorism regime were significant, much work remained to be done, she said, stressing that the 18 universal counterterrorism instruments were only effective if they were widely ratified and implemented.  Her delegation was working closely with the United States Congress to pass legislation that would allow the country to ratify the Nuclear Terrorism Convention, the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, and the 2005 Protocols to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation.

Right of Reply

In exercise of the right of reply, a representative of Afghanistan, referring to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation statement that was delivered by the Russian Federation, said that his country was an observer State to the Organisation and was committed to cooperation in the fight against narcotics and terrorism.  While his country was a victim of terrorism, terrorism was an international issue.  Thus, the statement delivered by the Russian Federation that the terrorism and narcotics threat emanated from Afghanistan did not reflect the realities of the region and contradicted the spirit of regional cooperation essential to counter terrorism. 

In exercise of the right of reply, a representative of Israel said that it was beyond absurd for his country to be lectured by Lebanon’s representative and that perhaps that country should tone down its rhetoric and turn up the heat on Hezbollah.  It was time for the Lebanese Government to take responsibility for what happened on its soil.  That country’s recurring acts of aggression violated United Nations resolutions and destabilized an already shaky region.

Ukraine’s representative, in exercise of the right of reply, said it was unfortunate that the Russian Federation continued to deny its role in the situation in Ukraine.  It was the Russian Federation who continued to supply terrorist organizations in Ukraine with the newest weaponry and arms, train fighters sent to Ukraine to fight Ukrainian troops, and it was Russian militants who continued to kill and torture civilians in the east of Ukraine.  Those facts had been confirmed by international human rights organizations.  Also, it was the Russian Federation who occupied Crimea and that fact had never been accepted by this Organization. 

For information media. Not an official record.