Sixth Committee (Legal) — 73rd session

Measures to eliminate international terrorism (Agenda item 111)

Documentation

Summary of work

Background (source: A/73/100)

The item entitled “Measures to prevent international terrorism which endangers or takes innocent human lives or jeopardizes fundamental freedoms, and study of the underlying causes of those forms of terrorism and acts of violence which lie in misery, frustration, grievance and despair and which cause some people to sacrifice human lives, including their own, in an attempt to effect radical changes” was included in the agenda of the twenty-seventh session of the General Assembly further to an initiative of the Secretary-General (A/8791, Add.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 Assembly had the item on its agenda at its thirty-first session and biennially from its thirty-second to forty-eighth sessions, and has had the item on its agenda annually since then, changing its title to “Measures to eliminate international terrorism” at its forty-sixth session (resolutions 31/102, 31/103, 32/147, 32/148, 33/19, 34/145, 34/146 (International Convention against the Taking of Hostages), 36/109, 38/130, 40/61, 42/159, 44/29, 46/51, 49/60 (Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism), 50/53, 51/210 (Declaration to Supplement the 1994 Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism), 52/164 (International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings), 52/165, 53/108, 54/109 (International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism), 54/110, 55/158, 56/88, 57/27, 58/81, 59/46, 59/290 (International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism), 60/43, 61/40, 62/71, 63/129, 64/118, 65/34, 66/105, 67/99, 68/119, 69/127, 70/120, 71/151 and 72/123 and decision 48/411).

At its fiftieth session, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to submit an annual report on the implementation of paragraph 10 of the Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism (resolution 50/53).

At its fifty-first session, the 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).

At its fifty-fourth session, the Assembly decided that the Ad Hoc Committee should also address the question of convening a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations to formulate a joint organized response of the international community to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations (resolution 54/110).

At its seventy-second session, the Assembly allocated the item to the Sixth Committee, where statements in the debate were made by 94 delegations (see A/C.6/72/SR.15, 28 and 30). The Assembly decided to recommend that the Sixth Committee, at the seventy-third session of the Assembly, establish a working group with a view to finalizing the process on the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism as well as discussions on the item included in its agenda by resolution 54/110 concerning the question of convening a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations, recognized the valuable dialogue and efforts of Member States towards resolving any outstanding issues, and encouraged all Member States to redouble their efforts during the intersessional period (resolution 72/123).

Consideration at the seventy-third session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 33rd and 35th meetings, from 3 to 5 October and on 5 and 13 November 2018 (A/C.6/73/SR.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 33 and 35).

For its consideration of the item, the Committee had before it the report of the Secretary-General (A/73/125).

Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 72/123 of 7 December 2017, at its 1st meeting, on 3 October, the Committee established a working group with a view to finalizing the process on the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, as well as discussions on the item included in its agenda by General Assembly resolution 54/110 concerning the question of convening a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations. The Working Group was open to all States Members of the United Nations or members of the specialized agencies or of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Working Group held three meetings, as well as informal consultations, on 16 and 19 October and on 1 November. At its 33rd meeting, on 5 November, the Committee heard and took note of the oral report by the Chair of the Working Group on the work of the Working Group and on the results of the informal consultations held during the current session (see A/C.6/73/SR.33).

Statements were made by the representatives of Iran (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)), El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)), Gambia (on behalf of the African Group), Saudi Arabia (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation  (OIC)), Cambodia (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)), the European Union, also on behalf of its Member States (the candidate countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania; the country of the stabilization and association process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and Moldova aligned themselves with the statement), New Zealand (also on behalf of Canada and Australia (CANZ)), Norway (also on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden (Nordic countries)), Qatar, Liechtenstein, Peru, Colombia, Pakistan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Maldives, Singapore, Brazil, Nicaragua, Gabon, Ghana, India, Cuba, Switzerland, Mexico, Brunei Darussalam, Mongolia, Thailand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Mauritius, the Dominican Republic, the United Republic of Tanzania, South Africa, Turkey, Lebanon, Ukraine, Israel, the United States of America, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Mali, Kenya, Uganda, the Philippines, El Salvador, Egypt, the Russian Federation, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Honduras, Malaysia, Nigeria, Morocco, Djibouti, China, Myanmar, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea, Algeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Paraguay, Senegal, Tunisia, Namibia, Japan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Viet Nam, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Ethiopia, Uruguay, Ecuador, Eritrea, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Georgia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Bahrain, and Zambia. The Permanent Observers of the Holy See and of the International Committee of the Red Cross also made statements.

In reiterating their unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, delegations generally underlined that terrorism constituted a serious breach of international law and a threat to international peace and security. Several delegations also underlined that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, culture, ethnicity, race, nationality or civilization, nor should it be confused with the legitimate self-determination and national liberation struggle of peoples under colonial or alien domination and foreign occupation. It was also noted that terrorism was a major factor in hindering sustainable development under the 2030 Agenda.
Delegations also generally underlined the importance of a strict observance of the Charter of the United Nations as well of as other rules of international law, including human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law, while countering terrorism. The fundamental importance of international and regional cooperation in the field, including the sharing of information and best practices, was underlined by several delegations. In this regard, States were called upon to ratify and accede to instruments relating to counter-terrorism. States were also urged to refrain from financing, organising, instigating, or assisting terrorist acts, as well as providing safe havens.

The need to take a holistic, whole-of-society approach when countering terrorism was underlined by several delegations. In this regard, the importance of engaging women and youth was emphasised, and the fundamental role of a culture of peace was highlighted. Furthermore, the role of women in preventing violent extremism, as well as in de-radicalisation and reintegration projects was highlighted. A number of delegations voiced their concern in relation to the employment by terrorist groups of deliberate and systematic sexual and gender-based violence as a method of terrorism. The ongoing concerns over the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters was stressed by several delegations.

Delegations reiterated their support for the new United Nations counter-terrorism architecture, and specifically the creation of the Office of Counter-Terrorism. Several delegations took note of the United Nations High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States, held on 28 and 29 June 2018 in New York.

A number of delegations underlined the importance of the various sanctions regimes, including the 1267/1989 and 1540 Sanctions Committees. Support was expressed for the continuing and strengthened implementation of fair and clear procedures by the sanctions committees and for the role of the Ombudsperson.

Delegations also generally reaffirmed the importance of the negotiations on the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism and the necessity to find consensus thereupon. Several delegations affirmed their commitment to the process. To this end, some delegations called on all States to exhibit compromise and flexibility, as indefinite postponement on the draft convention was not justified. Several delegations affirmed their support for the proposal to convene a High-level Conference under the auspices of the United Nations to contribute to finalizing the outstanding issues with respect to the draft comprehensive convention. While some delegations noted the potential usefulness of such a conference, other delegations expressed the view that the conference could only take place after technical negotiations had achieved a more advanced stage of consensus.

Archived videos of plenary meetings

Video   1st meeting (3 October 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   2nd meeting (3 October 2018, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   3rd meeting (4 October 2018, 11:30am – 1:00pm)

Video   4th meeting (4 October 2018, 3:00pm – 6:00pm)

Video   5th meeting (5 October 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   33rd meeting (5 November 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   35th meeting (13 November 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 35th meeting, on 13 November, the representative of Canada, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Measures to eliminate international terrorism” (A/C.6/73/L.17). At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/73/L.17 without a vote.

Under the terms of the draft resolution, the General Assembly would, inter alia, recommend that the Sixth Committee, at the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly, establish a working group with a view to finalizing the process on the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism as well as discussions on 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. The General Assembly would also recognize the valuable dialogue and efforts of Member States towards resolving any outstanding issues, and it would encourage all Member States to redouble their efforts during the intersessional period.

This agenda item will be considered at the seventy-fourth session (2019).

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