Sixth Committee (Legal) — 76th session
Measures to eliminate international terrorism (Agenda item 111)
- Authority: resolution 75/145
Additional documents from previous sessions:
- A/75/176 — Report of the Secretary-General
- A/68/37 — Report of the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996
- A/60/329 — Letter dated 1 September 2005 from the Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General
- A/C.6/60/2 — Letter dated 30 September 2005 from the Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations addressed to the Chairman of the Sixth Committee
- A/C.6/75/SR.17 | A/C.6/74/SR.34 | A/C.6/73/SR.33 — Summary records ofthe 17th meeting (11 November 2020), the 34th meeting (11 November 2019) and the 33rd meeting (5 November 2018)
Summary of work
Background (source: A/76/100)
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, A/8791/Add.1 and A/8791/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, 72/123, 73/211, 74/194 and 75/145 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-fifth session, the Assembly allocated the item to the Sixth Committee, where statements in the debate were made by 81 delegations (see A/C.6/75/SR.1–4, 17 and 19). The Assembly decided to recommend that the Sixth Committee, at the seventy-sixth 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 75/145).
Consideration at the seventy-sixth session
For its consideration of the item, the Committee had before it the report of the Secretary-General (A/76/201).
Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 75/145 of 15 December 2020, at its 1st meeting, on 5 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 two virtual meetings, on 14 and 19 October 2021. At its 27th meeting, on 9 November, the Committee heard and took note of the oral report of 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.
Statements were made by the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)), Ghana (on behalf of the African Group), Saudi Arabia (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)), the European Union (also on behalf of its member States (the candidate countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EFTA country Liechtenstein, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, aligned themselves with the statement)), Cambodia (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Norway (also on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden (Nordic Countries)), New Zealand (also on behalf of Australia and Canada (CANZ)), Singapore, Honduras, Jordan, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Philippines, Cuba, Qatar, Belarus, South Africa, Israel, Egypt, Mongolia, China, Pakistan, Oman, the United States of America, Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, El Salvador, Ecuador, Ghana, Mexico, Eritrea, Viet Nam, Mali, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Burkina Faso, Switzerland, Peru, Hungary, Sri Lanka, Japan, Guatemala, India, the Syrian Arab Republic, Nigeria, Nepal, Armenia, Georgia, Lebanon, Ethiopia, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Cameroon, Turkey, Yemen, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Maldives, Haiti, Argentina, Zambia, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Côte d'Ivoire, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Uganda, Togo, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, the Republic of Korea, Sudan, Mauritania, Bahrain, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Nicaragua, Senegal, Niger, Morocco, Spain, Algeria, the Dominican Republic, and Mozambique. The Permanent Observers of the State of Palestine, the Holy See and for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also made statements. The representatives of China, the Russian Federation, Armenia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan also spoke in the exercise of the right of reply.
Delegations reiterated their unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, underlining that terrorism constituted a serious breach of international law, including of international humanitarian law and human rights law, and a threat to international peace, security and the rule of law. It was also noted that terrorism had adverse consequences on economic and social development and sustainable development. Several delegations also emphasized that terrorism should not be associated with any specific religion, culture, ethnicity, race, nationality or civilization, and that it should be distinguished from the right of peoples to self-determination and their legitimate struggle against colonial and racist regimes or other forms of alien domination and foreign occupation, recalling in that respect General Assembly resolution 46/51.
Delegations generally underlined the importance, while countering terrorism, 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, and respect for the rule of law. Delegations also reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen international and regional cooperation as well as partnerships with and within the United Nations. The importance of mutual cooperation on the basis of the aut dedere aut judicare principle was recalled. The importance of sharing of information and best practices was also highlighted.The importance of ratification of and accession to instruments relating to counter-terrorism was emphasized. Calls were also made upon States to actively implement relevant instruments domestically. Several delegations also provided information of their domestic legislation for combating international terrorism, as well as developments and initiatives within their regions.
Several delegations highlighted work against all forms of violent extremism. A concern was expressed regarding xenophobic, extremist, and racial supremacist ideologies in relation to terrorism.
Generally, delegations welcomed the seventh review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and underlined the importance of its implementation. The work of United Nations counter-terrorism entities, in particular the Office of Counter-Terrorism, the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate and the Counter-Terrorism Centre, was commended. Delegations also welcomed the Second Counter-Terrorism Week at the United Nations and the Second United Nations High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States. Support was also expressed for the continuing and strengthened implementation of due process and fair and clear procedures by the sanctions committees and for the role of the Ombudsperson.
States were urged to refrain from instigating or assisting terrorist acts, including by allowing their territory to be used as a platform for terrorist organizations, or from providing safe havens in that connection. Delegations condemned the use of terrorism as a political instrument or as means to interfere with internal affairs of States. Some delegations were also concerned by the use of unilateral actions against States under the pretext of combating terrorism.
Several delegations expressed concern regarding the financing of terrorism and stressed the need to increase efforts to combat terrorist financing and money laundering. In this regard, a number of delegations referred to the link between terrorist groups and international organized crime and emphasized the importance of transnational crime prevention efforts. Attention was also drawn to the need to address the links between terrorism and the problem of ransom payments for release of hostages held by terrorist groups. The need to limit and regulate the circulation of weapons was also noted.
The need to take a whole-of-society approach when countering terrorism was underlined by several delegations.Delegations stressed the importance of addressing the root causes of terrorism, which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, the importance of engaging women and children as well as taking into account their specific needs was emphasized, while empowering and providing opportunities for youth was likewise viewed as crucial.
A number of delegations expressed solidarity with victims of international terrorism and spoke of the need to engage them, including through their involvement in policy making. Delegations also welcomed the Global Congress of Victims of Terrorism and expressed their support for the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism.
Generally, delegations expressed concern about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with respect to terrorism and violent extremism. Several delegations voiced their concern regarding the abuse of the internet and new technologies by terrorist groups. The need to regulate the cyberspace was highlighted. Concern over the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, including their return, rehabilitation and prosecution, was stressed by several delegations.
Delegations reaffirmed their support for the negotiation and successful conclusion of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism and the necessity to accelerate the finalization of consensus thereupon. In this regard, some delegations mentioned the importance of negotiating an internationally agreed definition of terrorism. It was emphasized that such definition should reflect constantly evolving nature of terrorism, as well as distinguished terrorism from the right of peoples to self-determination and their legitimate struggle against colonial and racist regimes or other forms of alien domination and foreign occupation. Some delegations stressed that an indefinite postponement of negotiations on the draft comprehensive convention was not justified and called States to exhibit compromise and flexibility. Several delegations reaffirmed 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 saw a link between the conclusion of the convention with the convening of the high-level conference, noting that the last could assist in the finalization of the negotiations, other delegations pointed out that the high-level conference should only be convened once the negotiations on the comprehensive convention are completed.
Archived videos and summaries of plenary meetings
Action taken by the Sixth Committee
At the 29th meeting, on 18 November, the representative of Canada, on behalf of the Bureau, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Measures to eliminate international terrorism” (A/C.6/76/L.11). At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/76/L.11 without a vote.
Under the terms of the draft resolution, the General Assembly would, inter alia, recall the organization by the Office of Counter-Terrorism of the second United Nations High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States, held in New York from 28 to 30 June 2021, as part of the second Counter-Terrorism Week at the United Nations, held from 24 to 30 June 2021. It would also recall the pivotal role of the General Assembly in following up the implementation and the updating of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. In addition, it would recommend that the Sixth Committee, at the seventy-seventh 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.
Subsequent action taken by the General Assembly
This agenda item will be considered at the seventy-seventh session (2022).