BY HIS EXCELLENCY DR. ERNST WALCH
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN
TO THE FIFTY-SIXTH
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Ever since 11 September, the fight against terrorism in all its forms has rightfully been at the top of the agenda of the United Nations as well as of other international organizations. On behalf of the Government of Liechtenstein, I wish to pledge our full support for international cooperation to combat terrorism. A quick understanding has emerged that multilateralism and international cooperation are the only ways to successfully tackle the challenges we are facing. Once again, the world has looked to the United Nations for leadership in our common fight, and once again the United Nations has delivered. We wish to pay tribute to Secretary-General Kofi Annan: He has navigated this organization in a most clever, capable and visionary manner through turbulent times and assiduously enhanced its standing in the international arena. Right before the beginning of his second term as Secretary-General, the United Nations is a stronger and more credible organization than ever. I wish to congratulate the Secretary-General and indeed the entire organization he is heading, on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. No one could be better placed to be a voice of international legitimacy and to provide leadership during the times ahead - and this is a moment when leadership is most needed.
Both the General Assembly and the Security Council have reacted with resolve and determination to the attacks of 11 September. The Council took a bold step in adopting its groundbreaking resolution 1373. We are indeed facing a new type of crisis, and the Security Council has designed 'a new type of response. The delegation of Liechtenstein looks forward to working closely with the Counterterrorism Committee (CTC) to fully implement the provisions of this resolution. Given the novelty of the task, we appreciate the difficulties and enormous workload the Committee is facing. We also express our support for the transparent manner and the spirit of cooperation and dialogue which the Committee has displayed thus far in carrying out its work. Benchmarking is of the utmost importance in this context: High standards of enforcement have to be developed and to be applied uniformly to all actors. We are committed to implement resolution 1373 as a whole, but will place particular emphasis on its central aspects relating to the financing of terrorism. We have all the necessary instruments in place to make our contribution to suppress and prevent the financing of terrorism. Consequently, I have signed on behalf of Liechtenstein the Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism on 2 October this year. Our common effort can only be successful if it is focused on our true goal of stopping financial flows to terrorists and their organizations. We must not venture into other areas of international financing under the disguise of fighting terrorism. In this context, I wish to state very clearly that bank secrecy as practiced in Liechtenstein never has provided and never will provide protection to terrorists or their financial transactions.
If the fight against terrorism is to be a genuinely common effort, it must include all of us. The General Assembly, as the only all-inclusive organ of the United Nations, must therefore play a significant role in our efforts. We trust that the General Assembly will assert its rightful place as the law-making body of the United Nations by adopting a comprehensive convention against terrorism, to fill the gaps in the existing framework of international law dealing with specific aspects of terrorism.
The fight against terrorism is multifaceted, and the role of the United Nations must also cover a wide range of topics, often referred to as the root-causes of terrorism. Indeed, isolating the extremists, exposing the perversity of their agenda, and thus preventing more misguided and disenfranchised people from joining a cause of insanity is the only way our fight will be successful in the long term. Poverty, social exclusion and marginalization, and the lack of basic education are key areas we must address. These are, of course, by no means new topics on the agenda of the United Nations. But we need to do more and need to do better. Informed and educated policy changes are not concessions to the evil of terrorism. Such thinking would lead to paralysis and inaction. It is of crucial importance that the spirit of international cooperation, rather than being selective and short-lived, will prevail in our work on these essential issues.
The United Nations is further challenged on the complex relationship between terrorism and human rights. The promotion and protection of human rights must not fall victim to the fight against terrorism. Human rights are not a luxury, which we can afford during good times and dispense with in times of crisis. Much rather, they are the foundation upon which all our activities must be based. Curtailing the existing human rights standards in the name of the fight against terrorism would mean giving up our most fundamental values - the very values which those who commit terrorist attacks are out to destroy. This we must not allow to happen. The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance was concluded on 8 September. I had the honour to attend this event, also in my capacity as Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe which served as the regional preparatory body for the conference. After a most difficult and complex process, the Conference was brought to a successful end with probably the best achievable outcome: The resolution of issues both of the past and the present, and a global anti-discrimination agenda with which we all can work. The difficulties of the Durban conference are reflected in the still ongoing debate on remaining technical, but important details. The necessary political will should be mustered as soon as possible so that the message from Durban can reach people worldwide. The events of 11 September have given additional significance to this message, since racism and intolerance can be both cause or consequence of terrorism. One of our most difficult new challenges in our fight against racism is to prevent discrimination against people because of their affiliation with certain ethnic groups.
There are those who interpret the events of 11 September as a fulfillment of a predicted clash of civilizations. They are wrong. Those who committed the attacks do not represent a civilization or religion, they only believe in terror, violence, and destruction. They are just criminals. Their acts were not an attack on a civilization, they were an attack on and a crime against humanity. But of course, nothing would serve their intentions better than a clash of civilizations. The United Nations is therefore challenged to prevent such a clash. The International Year of Dialogue among Civilizations serves us as a useful reminder of what the United Nations has always stood for.
Terrorism cannot be fought with just military measures and international judicial cooperation. Only by going beyond these obvious measures can we be successful in the long term: We must change the collective conscience and awareness in all societies and teach our children the futility and the dangers of resorting to violence as a means of dealing with conflicts. Terrorists utilize the most extreme forms of violence. Therefore, they must be effectively excluded from society, they must be outlawed. We must not accept terrorism as a fact of life, but believe in our collective ability to eradicate it. This goal may seem distant or even unrealistic, but so did the goal of eradicating slavery in the 19th and fascism in the 20th century.
I thank you, Mr. President.