1 November 1996


1 November 1996

Press Release


19961101 Committee Continues Consideration of Terrorism, Efforts to Establish International Criminal Court

Attempts to suppress international terrorism on a selective geographical basis had little hope of lasting success, the representative of India told the Sixth Committee this afternoon, as it concluded its discussion of measures to eliminate international terrorism. Efforts by the rich industrialized countries to limit the battle to their own territories and the Middle East were no substitute for a comprehensive international approach, he said.

Most developing countries lacked the technical capacity needed to forestall terrorist actions, the representative of Ghana said. To address that need, there must be regular training of security personnel from developing countries in advanced counter-terrorism techniques, together with increased bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

The representative of Kyrgyzstan said there should be closer cooperation among States in fighting terrorism, and a strengthening of links among their security officials. Exchange of information on terrorist activities and movements, as well as on the transfer of funds for terrorist purposes, could also help in that effort, the representative of Ethiopia said.

Statements on terrorism were also made by the representatives of Cameroon, Malaysia, Belarus, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Cuba, Azerbaijan, Haiti, Nicaragua, the Republic of Korea, Morocco, Bahrain and New Zealand. The representatives of Israel and Syria spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

Also this afternoon, the Committee concluded its consideration of the report of the Preparatory Committee on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, hearing statements by the Russian Federation, Iran, Nicaragua, Syria and Malta. On this subject also, Syria and Israel spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Sixth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 4 November, to begin its consideration of the annual report of the International Law Commission.

Committee Work Programme

The Sixth Committee (Legal) met this afternoon to continue its consideration of the report of the Preparatory Committee on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court on its activities during 1996 (document A/51/22, Parts I and II). It was also expected to continue its consideration of a report of the Secretary-General on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/51/336), which encourages concerned institutions to pursue a more global approach to counter-terrorism. It says States should continue to cooperate and exchange relevant information, and to review the scope of existing legal instruments, with the aim of ensuring the existence of a comprehensive legal framework covering all aspects of international terrorism.

Statements on International Criminal Court

ROMAN A. KOLODKIN (Russian Federation) said terrorism should be included under the jurisdiction of the international criminal court when such a case was transmitted to the court by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Those suspected of committing such crimes could thus be brought to justice without overloading the court with cases of less serious terrorist acts.

The court's independence should be maintained, but it should maintain a close connection with the United Nations, he said. It should be impartial and objective. To promote complementarity, States should have the right to protest the court's jurisdiction at all stages of proceedings up to the beginning of a trial, and also to protest the complaint itself.

SEYED HOSSEIN ENAYAT (Iran) said the provisions of the draft statute which would empower the Security Council to invoke the jurisdiction of the international criminal court must be re-examined. The court should be independent of other international organs, within or outside the United Nations system. The idea of inherent jurisdiction for the court seemed to be contrary to the principle of complementarity.

ERICH VILCHEZ ASHER (Nicaragua) said the international criminal court should be a permanent body with enough judges to represent the various legal systems worldwide. The judges should be elected by the General Assembly, and the court should be funded from the United Nations regular budget. There should be complementarity on its jurisdiction, and the relationship between Member States, the Security Council and the prosecutor must be clearly established. The Council should be able to initiate a case with the Court when the crimes were of utmost significance to the international community.

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GHASSAN OBEID (Syria) said the international criminal court should be fully independent, operating without pressure from the Security Council. The Council should not have the right to exercise a veto over whether an individual would be tried by the court, which should be on an equal footing with other international judicial bodies.

The universal nature of the court must be ensured, he said. There should be no pressure or threat from other international bodies in the absence of special agreements, approved by all Member States prior to adoption of the court's statute. The crime of aggression should be given high priority, since it led to human rights violations.

He said his region had known oppression and occupation and still suffered from it. The Security Council had adopted many resolutions to force the occupiers to return the occupied land, but those efforts had failed. Israel's occupations were a crime which violated the rights of humanity and the world's conscience.

VICTOR PACE (Malta) said the quickest way to establish the international criminal court would be through a treaty requiring a minimum number of ratifications to enter into force. Ad hoc tribunals, no matter how successful, could not substitute for a permanent judicial body. In the absence of a permanent mechanism by which violators could be held accountable, the international community's only recourse would be the imposition of sanctions and embargoes, or the use of military force.

He said the proposal to ensure equitable geographic distribution and gender balance in the choosing of judges involved both equity and pragmatic realism, he said. Recent experience had demonstrated that those two factors were of great relevance. Nevertheless, those important notions should not be translated into a strict quota system.

Right of Reply

YAEL RONEN (Israel) said it was regrettable that the Sixth Committee's discussion on the establishment of an international criminal court had been used as a political forum by some States. It was regrettable to have a discussion on technical issues by a professional body turned into a political one.

Mr. OBEID (Syria) said the Sixth Committee was not limited to discussing technical work. It had the right to address issues relating to crimes against humanity. That was especially so if the crimes were still being committed.

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Statements on International Terrorism

SANTOSH MOHAN DEV (India) said India had consistently advocated the adoption of an international convention to combat terrorism. It also welcomed sectoral measures addressing specific aspects of the problem. His delegation had prepared a draft convention on the suppression of terrorism for presentation to all members.

Attempts to suppress international terrorism on a selective geographical basis had little hope of lasting success, he said. Piecemeal efforts -- such as the rich industrialized countries limiting the battle to their own territories and the Middle East -- were no substitute for a comprehensive international effort. The United Nations financial crisis should not be allowed to become an obstacle in the war against international terrorism.

PASCALINE BOUM (Cameroon) said that unless new ways were explored to fight terrorism, it would continue. Cameroon supported both sectoral and global approaches to fighting terrorism, as well as the establishment of new legal instruments. It was hoped that an ad hoc committee to elaborate an international convention relating to terrorist bombing and acts of nuclear terrorism would be established during the Assembly's current session.

Terrorism must be fought through carefully planned strategies rather than through impulsive actions each time an incident occurred, she said. Terrorism would not be eradicated unless those responsible for it were punished. It would be stopped only if all States tackled the social, economic and political reasons behind terrorist acts.

HUSSIN BIN NAYAN (Malaysia) said an effort must be made to define terrorism, taking account of differing opinions. All States, individually and collectively, should employ all efforts and resources to combat terrorism by all legal means. Gross abuses of the Geneva Convention of 1951 made it necessary to re-examine the question of the granting of refugee status. There must be a reasonable and realistic appraisal of the actual circumstances of each applicant who sought protection under the Convention. It was imperative that measures to combat international terrorism should not infringe upon the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States.

VALERY I. RAMASHKA (Belarus) said the political will and determination of States to unite in combating terrorism was the most important and inspiring factor in that effort. The international community must develop legal machinery to stop the spread of international terrorism. Belarus supported the draft declaration to bar the granting of asylum to terrorists.

He said it was impossible to bring international cooperation in combatting terrorism to a new qualitative level while ignoring the global,

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comprehensive and multifaceted character of the issue. Belarus accorded high priority to promoting accession to existing anti-terrorist conventions.

YACUB YOUSIF AL-HOSANI (United Arab Emirates) said one could not confuse terrorism with Islam. The international community must work towards a more stable and integral world. Terrorism violated the sovereignty of States. His country had ratified many of the international instruments against terrorism and called for the implementation of new measures to fight it.

YESIM BAYKAL (Turkey) said terrorist acts were crimes against the peace and security of mankind. Serious acts of international terrorism should be included in the jurisdiction of the future international criminal court. It was not easy to understand the reasoning of some States who opposed the inclusion of terrorism within the court's jurisdiction, saying that could lessen the resolve of States to conduct national investigations and prosecutions while politicizing the court. Such a misleading argument could be applied to most of the crimes to be included in the court's jurisdiction.

She said Turkey supported the establishment of an ad hoc committee to elaborate conventions on terrorist bombings and nuclear terrorism.

AHMAD KAMAL (Pakistan) said the key to solving international terrorism was to address its root causes. Some underlying causes might be colonialism, situations involving mass and flagrant violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and situations involving alien occupation.

"Our support for anti-terrorism measures cannot and will not affect our total commitment to the right of people to self-determination and to the liberation struggles against alien and colonial domination or foreign domination", he said. Economic and political deprivation, as well as the oppression and exploitation of people in various parts of the world, were often at the root of terrorism. Pakistan condemned all terrorist acts, including the taking of hostages, and called for the safe and unconditional release of the hostages in Jammu and Kashmir.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that, with the help of modern transport and information technology, terrorism posed a formidable challenge to the governments of the world. In addition, combating terrorism had became increasingly expensive. The elimination of terrorism required an all- encompassing international regime, cooperation among all States, and diffusion of terrorism through socio-political understating of the problem.

"Whatever the form or manifestation the terrorist activities may take, most of them arise from radical political thinking", he said. There were technological limits to a State's ability to suppress terrorism, especially

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that which originated in fanaticism. For example, it was almost impossible for States to protect themselves from suicide attackers.

CARIDAD YAMIRA CUETO MILIAN (Cuba) said international terrorism was incompatible with the right to life. International measures against terrorism should not undermine the territorial integrity of States. An accurate definition of terrorism was crucial to the development of measures to combat it.

It would be counter-productive for one State or group of States to accuse or condemn other nations or otherwise conduct an illicit crusade against them in the guise of combating terrorism, she said. Cuba had been the victim of many acts of terrorism, including attacks on its leaders, hijacking and brutal economic terrorism.

ELCHIN OKTYABR AMIRBEKOV (Azerbaijan) said the Republic of Armenia had used his country as an object of terrorist activities for more than eight years. Armenian special services or terrorist organizations had killed or injured over 2,000 of Azerbaijan's citizens. Additional information on Armenia's terrorist activities would soon be provided. Azerbaijan considered the 1994 Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism to be a milestone in establishing an effective cooperation to combat terrorism.

BEATRICE EUGENE (Haiti) said that combating terrorism required firm political will from all States. The United Nations must fight both terrorism and illicit drug trafficking, which were often closely related. Terrorism had no frontiers and threatened the international community as a whole. Bilateral, regional and international cooperation in fighting it was essential. It was also important to arrive at a definition of terrorism to which all could agree.

MARIO CASTELLON DUARTE (Nicaragua) said terrorists made use of the most advanced technological means. Nicaragua opposed the granting of political asylum as refuge status to terrorists. Such criminals should be brought to justice and punished. Efforts were under way to create a new model for regional security in Central America. His country had acted to prevent and eliminate terrorism by educating its population and promoting peace and democracy.

ERIC ODOI-ANIM (Ghana) said most developing countries lacked the technical capacity needed to forestall terrorists actions. There must be regular training of security personnel from developing countries in advanced techniques in counter-terrorism, together with an increase in bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Decreasing or eliminating economic exploitation, political intolerance and social injustice could remove some of the motivations of terrorists.

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PARK SOO GIL (Republic of Korea) said one of the surest ways to contain and eliminate terrorism was to develop a worldwide legal system that held terrorists completely accountable for their acts. The world must send a resolute message that there was no reward for terrorism. The ultimate eradication of global terrorism would require the determined political will and concerted effort of the entire international community.

BERHANEMESKEL NEGA (Ethiopia) said his country had been subjected to a number of terrorist actions, one of which was the attempted assassination in its capital, on 26 June 1995, of the President of Egypt. "This terrorist act was carried out by members of fundamentalist groups organized in a foreign country", he said. Three of the 11 terrorists involved in that act had managed to hide from justice, receiving shelter in a neighbouring country. Despite requests by his Government, the three terrorists had still not been extradited to Ethiopia. He called upon the country concerned to fulfil its treaty obligation and international responsibility by extraditing those terrorists.

Combating terrorism required concerted action and cooperation among States at all levels, he said. For example, an information exchange on the activities and movements of terrorists and the transfer of funds for terrorist activities would be very helpful. Accession to existing international instruments could also help. A more global approach must be added to the sectoral efforts already under way.

AHMED SNOUSSI (Morocco) said that the success of any common action against international terrorism depended on the solidarity of all Member States. The world community must be alert to divisive factors that might adversely affect its efforts to combat terrorism. Citing associations that had been made between terrorism and Islam, he stressed that terrorism was a political problem, not a religious one.

JOSE MARIA CHAVES (Kyrgyzstan) said the revolution in communications and the ease of international travel had facilitated the movement of terrorists. Media coverage gave their actions added impact. Those developments made it necessary to have closer cooperation among Governments, particularly in strengthening the links among their security officials. The initiative to establish an ad hoc committee to elaborate an international convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings should be broadened to include all other terrorist acts.

EBRAHIM MUBARAK AL DOSARI (Bahrain) said international terrorism threatened world order and an international strategy was necessary to combat it. No State should encourage terrorist activities within its own borders. No state should negotiate with terrorists. Every effort should be made to isolate the perpetrators of terrorist acts.

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The United Nations should play an important role in strengthening efforts to combat terrorism.

FELICITY WONG (New Zealand) said her Government recognized the importance of fighting terrorism. However, the issue of terrorism should not jeopardize the institution of asylum for persons in genuine need of protection. Measures to be considered should not undermine the 1951 Convention relating to the States of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.

Right of reply

DAVID PELEG (Israel) said it was regrettable that such a professional body as the Sixth Committee would see the issue of terrorism used to benefit a political agenda. It was unfortunate that a few Middle Eastern States had done so in order to advance their own political interests. Attempts to camouflage terrorism were unacceptable. It was hoped that members of the Committee would not lend their support to that exercise. Terror must be rejected in all its forms, without any justifications.

KHALI ABOU-HADID (Syria) said the representative of Israel had made rash and indiscriminate accusations. He had given the impression that his Government's policies were made in support of peace. In fact, Israel's policies in the occupied territories and elsewhere bore witness to the opposite. Many acts of terrorism by Israel could be enumerated.

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For information media. Not an official record.