Sixth Committee (Legal) — 62nd session

Measures to eliminate international terrorism (agenda item 108)


Summary of work

Background (A/62/100)

This item was included in the agenda of the twenty-seventh session of the General Assembly, in 1972, further to an initiative of the Secretary-General (A/8791Add.1 and Add.1/Corr.1). At that session, the Assembly decided to establish the Ad Hoc Committee on International Terrorism, consisting of 35 members (resolution 3034 (XXVII)).

The General Assembly continued its consideration of the item biennially at its thirty-fourth to forty-eighth sessions, and annually thereafter (resolutions  34/14534/14636/10938/13040/6142/15944/2946/5149/60 and 50/53, and decision 48/411).
At its fifty-first session, the General Assembly established an Ad Hoc Committee to elaborate an international convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings and, subsequently, an international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, to supplement related existing international instruments, and thereafter to address means of further developing a comprehensive legal framework of conventions dealing with international terrorism (resolution 51/210).

The General Assembly continued its consideration of the item at its fifty-second to sixtieth sessions (resolutions 52/164, 52/165, 53/108, 54/109, 54/110, 55/158, 56/88, 57/27, 58/81, 59/46, 59/290 and 60/43).

At its sixty-first session, the General Assembly called upon all Member States, the United Nations and other appropriate international, regional and subregional organizations to implement the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (resolution 60/288) in all its aspects at the international, regional, subregional and national levels without delay, including through mobilizing resources and expertise; decided that the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 should, on an expedited basis, continue to elaborate the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, and should continue to discuss the item included in its agenda by Assembly resolution 54/110 concerning the question of convening a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations; and decided also that the Ad Hoc Committee should meet on 5, 6 and 15 February 2007 in order to fulfil that mandate (resolution 61/40).

Consideration at the sixty-second session

The Sixth Committee considered this item at its 3rd to 5th, 16th and 28th meetings, on 10, 11 and 26 October and 19 November 2007. At its 1st meeting, on 8 October, the Sixth Committee established a Working Group to carry out the mandate of the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210, as contained in resolution 61/40. The Working Group held three meetings, on 11, 15 and 18 October. Informal consultations were also held on the resolution on this item.

At the 3rd meeting of the Sixth Committee, on 10 October, the Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 introduced the report of the Ad Hoc Committee (A/62/37); and at the 16th meeting, on 26 October, the Chair of the Working Group presented an oral report on the work of the Working Group and on the results of the bilateral contacts with delegations which were held intersessionally and on 16 and 17 October (A/C.6/62/SR.16).

Statements were made by the representatives of Viet Nam (on behalf of the ASEAN), the Dominican Republic (on behalf of the Rio Group), Australia (on behalf of CANZ), Benin (on behalf of the African Group), Portugal (on behalf of the European Union; the candidate countries Turkey, Croatia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the countries of the Stabilization and Association Process; and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro and the EFTA country Norway, as well as Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and Georgia which aligned themselves with the statement), Cuba (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Trinidad and Tobago (on behalf of CARICOM), Tajikistan (on behalf of Shanghai Cooperation Organization), Pakistan (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference), Liechtenstein, Switzerland, the Russian Federation, Egypt, Thailand, Kuwait, Iceland, Myanmar, Turkey, Oman, Bahrain, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Colombia, Zambia, the Republic of Korea, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malaysia, the Sudan, Algeria, Maldives, the United Republic of Tanzania, Singapore, Morocco, Ukraine, Ghana, Sri Lanka, the Syrian Arab Republic, Belarus, Nigeria, El Salvador, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Indonesia, Qatar, Botswana, Cambodia, Cuba, India, China, Cameroon, Mexico, Mongolia, Venezuela, Moldova, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, Kenya, Yemen, Japan, Iraq, South Africa, Israel, Uganda, Angola, Philippines, Afghanistan, Palau, Niger, and Interpol (Observer). Cuba exercised its right of reply.

Delegations reiterated their unequivocal and strong condemnation of terrorism in its all forms and manifestations and emphasised that terrorism remained a major threat facing the international community. The respect for the rule of law, in particular the Charter of the United Nations, international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law, in the fight against international terrorism was also underlined. A number of delegations pointed out that State terrorism and the application of double standards in combating international terrorism had a negative effect on the efforts of the international community to eliminate international terrorism.

Several delegations emphasized that no link existed between terrorism and a particular faith or religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group and stressed that continued efforts to encourage interfaith and inter-cultural dialogue were necessary as a way to address conditions conducive to violence and terrorism. The importance of prohibiting incitement to terrorism was also underlined and Member States were urged to harmonize their national legislation with the provisions of Security Council resolution 1624 (2005).

Delegations welcomed the adoption of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, reiterated their commitment to it and called for enhancing international cooperation to fully implement the Strategy and its plan of action. Some delegations noted with approval certain elements of the Strategy, including the necessity for State capacity-building in the prevention and combating of terrorism, of repressing the sources of the financing of terrorism and of addressing conditions conducive to terrorism as well as the reference to General Assembly resolution 46/51. Furthermore, the importance of reviewing and updating the Strategy in the light of new developments was underlined. The Sixth Committee was invited to focus on the legal and technical aspects of the matter, including the finalization of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism.

Delegations acknowledged with appreciation the efforts of the Counter-Terrorism Task Force in promoting the implementation of the Strategy in 2007 and support was expressed for the institutionalization of the Task Force and its funding through the United Nations regular budget. Several States called for increased financial support for the Task Force, while others specified the contributions that they had made to support it.

The key role of the United Nations in mobilizing the international community to combat international terrorism was emphasized and its enhanced cooperation with regional organizations in this area was welcomed. Several delegations praised the increasing role of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) in providing technical assistance to States at the regional and national levels, especially for developing countries. Such capacity building was deemed vital in order to fully implement Security Council resolutions and universal counter-terrorism instruments. Some delegations also expressed support for the work done by the Security Council and its sanctions committees, in particular with regard to the improvement of listing and de-listing procedures. However, the view was also expressed that the current monitoring and supervising mechanisms assigned to the Counter-Terrorism-Committee, CTED and UNODC could be further streamlined.

Some delegations expressed support for the proposal made by Saudi Arabia to establish a counter-terrorism centre under the aegis of the United Nations and for the proposal by Tunisia to convene a high-level conference to establish a code of conduct in the fight against international terrorism. It was also suggested that a single entity within the United Nations in charge of the fight against terrorism, on the same model as the Peacebuilding Commission, be created.

Some delegations expressed support for serious consideration of amending the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to include the offence of terrorism within the jurisdiction of the Court.

With regard to the work of the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210, delegations recalled that the conclusion of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism remained a priority for the General Assembly and called for its early conclusion. It was noted that the few remaining differences on the text were not insurmountable, and that all efforts should be made not to lose the momentum and to finalize the text. In this context, it was noted that the conclusion of the draft convention would greatly enhance the implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Several delegations expressed the view that the draft convention should contain a universally accepted definition of terrorism, which would, in principle, differentiate it from the legitimate struggle of peoples in the exercise of their right for self-determination from foreign occupation or colonial domination. It was also noted that the draft convention should be viewed as a functional criminal law instrument, and that any compromise text would not include an overarching definition of terrorism, a clear distinction between terrorism and the right to self-determination, or an explicit reference to State terrorism. It was also stressed that the draft convention should not interfere with the rules of armed conflict by criminalizing conduct which would otherwise not be prohibited under international humanitarian law. Differing views were expressed on whether the activities of armed forces should be excluded from the scope of the Convention and whether it should address the issue of State terrorism. A suggestion was also made that the draft convention should contain a mechanism relating to the reparation to victims of terrorist acts.

The necessity of preserving the integrity of the current draft text and focus the negotiations on the outstanding issues relating to article 18 was emphasized. In this regard, some delegations noted with interest the recent proposal made by the Coordinator of the draft comprehensive convention during the 2007 session of the Ad Hoc Committee and believed that it constituted a step in the right direction. A view was expressed that this proposal constituted a viable basis for compromise.

Some delegations also emphasized that the comprehensive convention should be seen as complementing the existing legal framework of the sectoral anti-terrorism conventions and to preserve the acquis.

In relation to the question of the convening of a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations, while some delegations reiterated their support for the proposal, which would help formulating an organized response of the international community to terrorism, others pointed out that this issue should be considered only following an agreement on the comprehensive convention on international terrorism.

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 28th meeting, on 19 November 2007, the representative of Canada, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Measures to eliminate international terrorism” (A/C.6/62/L.14).  At the same meeting, the Secretary of the Committee made a statement regarding the financial implications of the draft resolution. Also at the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/62/L.14 without a vote. Before the adoption of the draft resolution, the representatives of Egypt, Algeria, Iran (Islamic Republic of) and Uganda made statements in explanation of position; after the adoption of the draft resolution, the representatives of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Tunisia, the Sudan and Cuba made statements in explanation of position.

This agenda item was subsequently considered at the sixty-third session (2008)

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