Russian Federation



H.E. Mr. Igor S. Ivanov

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

during the general debate at the 56-th session of the United Nations General Assembly

16 November 2001

Unofficial translation
check against delivery

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary General,

Ladies and gentlemen,

This session of the UN General Assembly is proceeding under the omen of an unprecedented challenge posed to mankind by international terrorism. We will all have yet to analyze seriously how that could have happened, why, having the political, economic and military power at our disposal, we allowed it to happen. However, today it has become perfectly clear that the globalization era, and the threats and challenges to global and regional security it brings around, make an urgent and ominous requirement that we all take a radically new approach to international affairs.

The time of deliberations and disputes as to what the future world architecture should be or what role should be played in it by this or that state, has passed irrevocably. Today, we face a tough dilemma the resolution of which will have truly paramount importance. It is either we collectively unite our efforts in a responsible endeavor to construct a really just and democratic world order, which would guarantee equal security and sustainable development to all States in the world, or, bogged down in further scholastic disputes, we continue to fail to counter real rather than hypothetical threats to global stability and security and unintentionally allow the forces of evil to manipulate the international community. We can go on talking for decades about what the notion of terrorism should imply while terrorists commit their crimes.

To make it short, the decisive moment has come for all of us. For the sake of future generations, we simply must close the ranks of the international community and set about taking concrete action. The most urgent of them all is undoubtedly a creation of a global system to counteract new threats and challenges, first and foremost among which is international terrorism. It is quite natural that this subject was the central one in the course of negotiations between the President of the Russian Federation Mr. Vladimir V. Putin and the President of the United States of America Mr. George W. Bush that have recently took place in Washington, D.C., and Crawford, Texas.

A universal anti-terrorist coalition of which Russia is a responsible member has been formed. It is of principle importance that the United Nations is playing a consolidating and coordinating role in the development of that coalition. This is more than appropriate since, indeed, the UN has the necessary universal character, authority, experience and resources to organize a collective rebuke to terrorism on a firm basis of international law.

The large-scale decisions taken by the UN Security Council and the General Assembly in recent months provide a solid political and legal framework for the efforts to neutralize the threat of terrorism, which includes a wide specter of action-oriented anti-terrorists measures. Now it is important that these decisions are implemented by all States to the maximum extent.

If necessary, the use of most decisive means against terrorists may be permissible, including the use of military force. Such right is granted by the UN Charter. Similarly, it is evident that the threat cannot be overcome by forceful means alone. The comprehensive approach to eradication of terrorism implies the use of the whole range of political, economic, financial and humanitarian measures.

Consolidation of the international legal framework for combating terrorism is now on our agenda. An early completion and adoption within the United Nations of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and. the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism are a high priority. We are convinced that the Member States of the United Nations are quite capable of coping with this task before the end of the current session of the General Assembly.

One important task is to ensure an early accession by all States to the existing and operational international anti-terrorist conventions. It would be useful to establish a mechanism within the United Nations to monitor the fulfillment by States of their treaty obligations concerning the suppression of terrorism.

We also believe that it is a promising idea - to establish under the aegis of the United Nations a center for coordination of assistance to States in resolving crises caused by terrorist acts. Such structure would focus on the provision of consultative and logistic support in the management of consequences of terrorist acts.

Russia also proposes to study a possibility of inclusion in the international law of a principle of responsibility of States for the failure to take measures against terrorists in their territory or under their jurisdiction.

Maintaining and strengthening of strategic stability at the global and regional levels as well as consolidation of the WMD nonproliferation regimes are of key importance for the success of the comprehensive fight against international terrorism. No effort should be spared to rule out any possibility of such weapons getting into the hands of terrorists. This will require joining collective efforts to resolve serious problems such as strict observance of the Nonproliferation Treaty, ensuring universality of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and effective control regime provided in the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons. Russia will continue to exert intensive efforts in order to achieve these goals.

The international community should continue to focus on the interdependence and merging of international terrorism, drug trafficking and transnational organized crime. These dangerous phenomena rely upon similar if not, sometimes, common channels for financial support. Hence, the urgency of an early entry into force of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. Russia intends to ratify that treaty as soon as possible.

To launch practical implementation of the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its Additional Protocols is an equally urgent task.

In a word, the land should burn under the feet of those who plan and commit terrorist acts or support them, who are involved in transborder manipulations of mafia groupings and drug lords. The inevitability of personal responsibility for such crimes should be the key factor for their suppression and prevention. The evil should be and will be punished. It cannot be disguised under any political, nationalist or religious slogans. Terrorism is nothing but a crime. There can be neither doubts nor double standards in this regard.

It is also perfectly clear that the fight against terrorism is not aimed against any particular religion, civilization or culture. That was proved by the discussions of the issue of the dialogue among civilizations during the current session of the UN General Assembly. We also hope, that the implementation of the initiative put forward by Islamic religious leaders from Russia to organize an international conference "Islam against terrorism" in Moscow would make a practical contribution towards the activities in that area. We note with satisfaction the broad support given to this proposal.

It is also very obvious that terrorism is routed in the uneven social and economic development and the gap between affluence and poverty, both within States and in the international arena. Poverty and misfortune, illiteracy and unemployment provide the breeding soil for terrorism. Therefore the task of ensuring a sustainable development of all regions of the world, and focusing on social aspects of the globalization process are as urgent today as they have never been before. The United Nations and its specialized agencies are called upon to make an important contribution to reforming in a balanced and non-discriminatory way the financial and economic architecture of today.

The United Nations can also do a lot more to ensure effective rejection of any form of extremism in the world, be it aggressive nationalism, militant separatism, or religious intolerance. It is not States alone that should make a substantial contribution to these efforts; the same should be expected from the civil society, including leading non-governmental organizations. We suggest that thought should be given to organizing, under the aegis of the United Nations, of a world forum which would discuss what contribution civil society and, particularly, mass media could make to combating terrorism.

The international experience shows that new threats and challenges take on particularly dangerous forms in the zones of instability and regional conflicts, whether in Afghanistan or the Middle East, or the Balkans. Successful prevention and settlement of regional conflicts should be integral elements of counter-terrorist activities of the international community.

This is another compelling argument in favor of further development and higher effectiveness of the UN preventive and peacekeeping activities. Our common interests will be served if the world Organization were equipped with modern arsenal of instruments for improving its anti-crisis potential. In particular, Russia advocates development within the UN of an integrated strategy aimed at reliably blocking the channels for outside fuelling of the conflicts.

The interconnection of efforts to promote peace and find adequate responses to latest challenges in the area of security requires expansion and intensification of regional cooperation.

The Commonwealth of Independent States can serve as an example of such successful partnership. With Russia's active participation, an important work is being carried out within the CIS based on the Agreement on cooperation in the Fight against Terrorism signed by the heads of the governments of the CIS participating States in 1999. The CIS anti-terrorist center has been launched and put to effective operation. On the whole, the interaction within the Commonwealth in combating organized crime and drug trafficking is effectively developing.

Anyway, the decisions taken by the UN and other international and regional organizations against terrorism and other latest challenges will no doubt prove effective only to the extent that they are implemented by the international community as a whole. There is obviously no State today where the issue of harmonizing the national laws with international standards would not be urgent.

Russia is also involved in that exercise. The established agreement in the Russian society that terrorism and extremism within Russia and worldwide should be eradicated, ensures the successful operation of all branches of power in our country in this field. We also intend to strengthen the historically formed foundation of peaceful and harmonious co-existence of people representing different religions, nationalities and cultures. Resting upon that foundation, Russia will continue to contribute constructively to the formation of a global system to counter new threats and challenges.

Mr. President,

Today, the moment of truth has come for each of us, as well as for the international community as a whole. The time has come to take responsible decisions that will determine the destiny of our planet for a long time to come.

As far as Russia is concerned, we support the decisions that would provide for strategic stability and equal security for all States, sustainable development and prosperity for all the peoples of the planet, and peace and tranquillity for each family and each individual.

 In the conditions of globalization, facing contemporary threats and challenges, these purposes can only be achieved jointly, by working cooperatively, and uniting the efforts of the entire international community. There is just no other way to achieve well being and progress of civilization. The UN has a vital role to play in this regard. Created half a century ago by the powers of the anti-Hitler coalition in order to bar the rebirth of misanthropic ideologies and regimes on the planet, the UN continues to pursue, as one of its main priorities, the goal that is similar in many ways. Indeed, the United Nations has remained the most important instrument available to the international community, whose effective and responsible use, I am convinced, will allow us to build a new democratic and just world order for the twenty-first century.