All Views, All Legal Arguments Now on Table for Comprehensive Anti-Terrorism Convention, General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee Chair Says at Session’s Close

16 April 2010

All Views, All Legal Arguments Now on Table for Comprehensive Anti-Terrorism Convention, General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee Chair Says at Session’s Close

16 April 2010
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Ad Hoc Committee on Assembly

Resolution 51/210

46th Meeting* (AM)

All Views, All Legal Arguments Now on Table for Comprehensive Anti-Terrorism

Convention, General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee Chair Says at Session’s Close

Optimism Expressed that Obstacles to Finalizing Text Can Be Overcome;

Coordinator says ‘More Unites Us than Divides Us on These Delicate Issues’

Expressing optimism that obstacles to a comprehensive anti-terrorism convention could finally be overcome, members of the General Assembly committee negotiating that text recommended this morning that the Assembly’s Sixth Committee (Legal) establish a working group for that purpose during its sixty-fifth session.

As it closed its week-long fourteenth session and adopted its report today, the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 also recommended that the Sixth Committee continue to discuss the convening of a high-level conference on the issue, under United Nations auspices.

“We have now reached a point where all views have been expressed and all legal arguments made,” Committee Chairman Rohan Perera of Sri Lanka said, urging that a focus be maintained on resolving the remaining disagreements on the scope of the proposed convention that required a resolution of disputes related to a definition of terrorism and interaction with other international law.

“We have come a long way to reach the current stage,” he said, adding “I have every confidence that delegations will review the issues before us carefully in the light of the various clarifications that have been offered, so we may allow the General Assembly to take the necessary decisions come this fall”.

Reporting on bilateral discussions during the session, Coordinator Maria Telalian said that she was encouraged by “a renewed tone and willingness” to make progress on the basis of a package of elements outlined in 2007, which she saw during her bilateral contacts during the session.  In particular, she underscored that delegations had stressed that the integrity of international humanitarian law should be respected and preserved.

Reviewing progress to date, she said that the overarching scheme that was adopted had focused on the elaboration of a criminal law enforcement instrument targeted at individual criminal responsibility and based on enhanced international cooperation.

In the inclusionary elements of draft article 2 and the exclusionary elements of draft article 18, she maintained, the text of a legal definition of acts of terrorism suitable for a criminal law enforcement instrument had been formulated.  Draft article 2, she explained, covered the range of persons who might plausibly be involved in a criminal enterprise that caused specific kinds of harm and had, as its purpose, to intimidate a population, or to compel a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act.

Draft article 18, she said, generally safeguarded other rights, obligations and responsibilities of States, peoples and individuals under international law, which, she affirmed, would include the rights of peoples under international law.  That remained a controversial issue in the debate over definitions of terrorism.

In addition, she said, it was common knowledge that an entirely different legal regime, already well-established, addressed the activities of armed forces during conflict, and those obligations were also referenced by draft article 18.

“I firmly believe that there is more that unites us than divides us on these delicate issues,” she concluded, reminding that progress so far had emerged from a long and arduous process and hoping that delegations would soon be ready to move forward.

Following Ms. Telalian’s presentation, the representatives of India, Spain (on behalf of the European Union), Russian Federation, Nicaragua, Serbia, Syria (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference), United States and Cuba, thanked her for her hard work, urged that past progress be built on and reiterated their strong commitment to the completion of the draft convention as a vital law enforcement instrument that would strengthen international cooperation against terrorism. 

The Committee’s draft report, which contains the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee, as well as a description of the discussions of the session, was introduced by Rapporteur Andi Xhoi of Albania.

Also this morning, the representative of Poland thanked Committee members for their many sincere expressions of sympathy after the loss of Polish leaders in last week’s plane crash.

The Ad Hoc Committee will meet again at a time and place to be announced.

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*     The 45th Meeting was covered in Press Release L/3154.

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.