TERRORISM ON AGENDA SINCE 1972, BUT ANSWER CANNOT WAIT ANOTHER 30 YEARS GENERAL ASSEMBLY TOLD, AS
NEW YORK, 3 October (UN Headquarters) -- The United Nations could not wait another 30 years to find an answer to the problem of terrorism, the representative of Paraguay told the General Assembly this morning, as it began its third day of debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism.
He said that since the twenty-seventh session of the Assembly in 1972, the item on measures to eliminate terrorism had constantly, but also timidly, been on its agenda. Only since the 11 September tragedy, had a consensus been reached on the urgency of action. Any time lost in strengthening the legal framework to combat the problem would be an opportunity for terrorists to strengthen their own network. The Assembly, he said, must go beyond mere statements of condemnation and solidarity, and pledge to fulfil its moral, legal and political obligation to construct a legacy of democracy, peace and security.
Jamaica’s representative said transnational organized crime, including illicit narcotics production and trafficking, money laundering and illegal arms transfers, had taken advantage of advances in technology to broaden its reach across international boundaries. The international community also had to take advantage of technological advances and the expertise available to wage battle against terrorism. Those who had the know-how had to be prepared to share it with those who lacked it.
Echoing other speakers, the representative of Mauritius said many States, at the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, held last July, had rightfully pressed for measures that would stop States from selling small arms and light weapons to non-State actors since such weapons continued to land into the hands of terrorist groups and rebels. There could be no success in fighting terrorism if comprehensive steps were not taken to prevent all kinds of weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, from falling into the hands of terrorist groups.
The representatives of Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Finland, Comoros, Peru, Indonesia, Syria, Cape Verde, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Sweden, India and China also spoke.
Concerning the future work of the Assembly, before concluding this morning it was announced that:
The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. to continue its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism.
The General Assembly met this morning to continue its debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism. The debate, which has more than 160 participants, is expected to last through Friday, 5 October.
For background, see Press Release GA/9919 of 1 October.
JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said that in the modern world of freedom, democracy and tolerance it was simply unimaginable that some people chose such evil methods to express anger and frustration. In fact, there was no justification whatsoever for terrorism and no concession could be made to those who committed terrorist acts. With the numerous international conventions on terrorism, one would have hoped that there were adequate measures available to deal with it. Unfortunately, that was not the case, proving either that the instruments were not comprehensive enough, or the international community had failed in fully implementing them. Last Friday, the Security Council took a bold step by adopting a comprehensive and far-reaching resolution to deal with all aspects of terrorism.
Terrorists had no human or moral values, no respect for human rights and, in fact, no religion, he continued. The only religion they professed was to terrorize, and inflict maximum human suffering and material damage. It was important not to confuse terrorism with any ethnic group or religion. The fight against terrorism was a fight by all nations, and should be undertaken in the framework of international solidarity and cooperation. It had to be as comprehensive and as broad-based as possible. It was important to realize, however, that many countries lacked, the expertise to incorporate the provisions of international conventions on terrorism into domestic law. The Secretary-General should provide technical assistance to the countries that needed it.
There was a close and complex link between terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking, illegal exploitation of natural resources and the illegal trafficking and easy availability of small arms and light weapons, he said. At the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons last July, many States had rightfully pressed for, in the Programme of Action, the inclusion of measures that would stop States from selling small arms and light weapons to non-State actors, since such weapons continued to land into the hands of terrorist groups and rebels. The African Continent had suffered from the immense havoc caused by those weapons. There could be no success in fighting terrorism if comprehensive steps were not taken to prevent all kinds of weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, from falling into the hands of terrorist groups.
GELSON FONSECA (Brazil) reaffirmed there could be no justification for terrorist acts and recalled the numerous measures his country and region had taken in response to the 11 November attack. He endorsed the promptness of the Assembly and the Security Council in condemning the attacks and reaffirming the international community’s determination to combat terrorist actions by all means as a threat to international peace and security. Still, while all the repressive actions to crack down on terrorist cells were necessary, and sometimes were the only means to restore security, the tragic events of 11 September highlighted how essential preventive measures were.
Cooperative efforts must necessarily involve the sharing of information, tightening of border controls, dismantling of the financial network supporting terrorist activities, and enhancing security in transportation, he said. In addition, cooperative ways must be found for coping with the dramatic effects of terrorist acts on the economies of countries, big and small. Terrorism was sure to fall if the foundations of international stability were based on tolerance, justice and the pursuit of prosperity for all, using the Charter instruments for conflict resolution and prevention.
He said the United Nations was uniquely placed to face the challenge posed by terrorism and some fundamental steps could signal a united resolve to deal decisively with the menace. Existing counter-terrorism conventions should be adopted and implemented while the draft comprehensive terrorism convention should be concluded. The Secretary-General should be asked for a report on measures to enhance of role of the United Nations system in the effort. Countries should adhere to and implement measures and instruments against nuclear and other weapons. They should consider other cooperative measures in such areas as border control and law enforcement. And, they should ensure that the international response to terrorism was guided by the principles set out in the Charter and in international law, particularly with regard to the use of force and the imposition of coercive measures.
ILEKA ATOKI (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said the tragedy of 11 September that had befallen the people of the United States was not merely an issue for them. The number and varied origins of the victims said a great deal to all. That event proved that the international community must put an end to terrorism. But, the international commitment to that end would depend on the commitment of each State; its adherence to international instruments against terrorism and its ability to fully apply the necessary measures.
His country’s criminal code did not have a comprehensive definition of terrorism, he said. At the domestic level, a decree banned importing and dealing in firearms and the law forbids anyone not in military service from possessing revolvers, automatic firearms and other weapons. From the view of foreign policy, his country understood that force could not solve problems and realized that a universal union was needed to put an end to the scourge of terrorism. His country had signed several international conventions against terrorism and was preparing to sign others.
He stressed that his country had always advocated the fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. He welcomed Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) as an important first step in stemming and eradicating terrorism. But, the new draft comprehensive convention against terrorism would be of great assistance in accomplishing that, especially as an effective legal framework, and should be adopted as soon as possible. He added that terrorism should not be limited to isolated individuals or groups, but include broader large-scale acts of State terror, which had serious consequences. That form of terror had violated his country and exploited its peaceful nature. He sympathized with the United States because the Congo had been living under aggression for some time and was aware of the meaning of the word horror, which had included daily massacres of the population, hijacking, the illegal destruction of aircraft and the criminal spread of HIV/AIDS.
ELADIO LOIZAGA (Paraguay) said he welcomed the Assembly’s decision to examine today’s subject. By doing so it could assume its rightful role in taking the measures needed to combat and eliminate terrorism. The barbaric acts of 11 September had affected more than 80 nations, including Paraguay, and had changed the international context. The international community, therefore, must resume its firmest commitment to peace and security.
After the events, his Government had immediately adopted internal measures for greater control and safety regarding entry into and departure from Paraguay, he continued. A pre-draft law was being prepared to include the crime of terrorism in the penal code. Also, the Organization of American States (OAS) had adopted a resolution convening the twenty-third Consultative Meeting of Foreign Ministers to consider the issue. Under the Inter-American Treaty on Reciprocal Assistance, it had been agreed that the terrorist attacks were considered attacks against all States of the hemisphere. His country had requested convening the interior ministers of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) countries to cooperate on an exchange of information on terrorist activities and establish a standing working group to coordinate anti-terrorist action.
Since the twenty-seventh session of Assembly in 1972, the item on measures to eliminate terrorism had constantly -- but also timidly -- been on the agenda, he said. Only since the 11 September tragedy has a consensus been reached on the urgency of action. The Organization could not wait another 30 years to find an answer to the problem. Any time lost in strengthening a legal framework would be an opportunity for terrorists to strengthen their own network. He appealed to developed countries to give those States requesting it the needed assistance in technology, training and finances to help them in their fight against terrorism. Relevant units of the Secretariat should also be given the needed resources. The Assembly must go beyond mere statements of condemnation and solidarity, and pledge to fulfil its moral, legal and political obligation to construct a legacy of democracy, peace and security.
PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said the fight against terrorism had not been so intense since the General Assembly first engaged on the issue in 1972. Recent events showed that all nations and all peoples of the world should join in a concerted and unremitting course of action, or series of actions, to defeat it. There could be no refuge or safe haven for terrorists, or those who supported, aided or abetted them. Jamaica reiterated that the most effective response to these heinous acts continued to be full cooperation at the international level. There were already a number of international conventions, which provided a basis for concerted action against terrorists. Jamaica was undertaking a review of these conventions with a view to signing, ratifying and fully implementing those not yet in effect in the country. All States should do likewise.
In the meantime, important steps could be taken to combat terrorism and its supporters. Globalization and the revolution in communications technology presented new challenges in the fight against terrorism. In this context, Jamaica had last week, along with a number of countries from the Caribbean community, signed the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. Such crime -- which manifested itself in several forms of criminal activity, including illicit narcotics production and trafficking, money laundering and illegal arms transfers -- had taken advantage of advances in technology to broaden its reach across international boundaries. The international community must also take advantage of technological advances. Those with the "know-how" must share it with those who lacked it. Any consideration of terrorism must include efforts to counter the traffic in small arms and light weapons, which undoubtedly contributed to the spread and escalation of terrorism. The international community must move forward on this most important issue. It must act now, resolutely and deliberately, to secure a safe world, for people today and generations to follow.
The leadership role of the United Nations had to be asserted and supported in the fight against international terrorism. The Security Council had begun the work necessary for effective action. The General Assembly would act likewise to reaffirm its commitment to win this fight and remove this plague. There needed to be a unified determination, and a reaffirmation of the collective will so that actions could surpass the words.
MARJATTA RASI (Finland) said international support, coordination and cooperation were necessary for any government’s ability to craft an effective response to terrorist attacks. The European Union called for the broadest possible global coalition against terrorism. It had rightly emphasized the primordial role of the United Nations in this respect.
Terrorist acts constituted a threat to international peace and security; the resolutions and statements of the Security Council, in particular the resolution of last Friday, sent a powerful message that terrorism had to be combated decisively. The General Assembly had undertaken important and indispensable work in recent years in building a consensus on the basic principle that terrorist acts were criminal and unjustifiable by any political, religious or philosophical considerations. Terrorism might grow out of inequality and oppression, but such circumstances did not justify terrorist acts. There was no "just" terrorism, whatever the causes. At the same time, understanding and eradicating the underlying causes of terrorism posed a challenge to societies and to the international community.
The European Union had categorically rejected any equation of groups of fanatical terrorism with the Arab and Muslim world. Fanaticism allied with any religion or ideology could lead to terrorist activities. Acts of terrorism posed a serious challenge to States and governments all over the world. It was the global reach of the problem that made it necessary for the international community to respond in a coordinated manner. Organizing the attacks of 11 September would not have been possible without established national networks of support and funding.
Efforts to suppress terrorism had to always respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. The conventions elaborated under United Nations auspices to prevent and to suppress terrorist acts provided an essential framework for the fight against terrorism. Finland had signed all the twelve conventions, and would soon have ratified 10 of them. Even though the scope of the existing conventions was fairly comprehensive, there were still gaps to be filled. Discussions on a comprehensive convention, on the basis of a draft submitted by India, were under way in the Assembly’s Sixth Committee. This would strengthen the comprehensive network of conventions and enhance the impact of the measures taken in the United Nations over the last quarter century. The draft convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism should also be completed as soon as possible.
MAHMOUD ABOUD (Comoros) expressed his heartfelt condolences to the people of the United States for the terrorist attacks of 11 September. All nations had been shaken by those acts of barbarity, which were designed to hurt all of mankind. He was gratified at the will of the Secretary-General to fight terrorism and fully supported its eradication. International cooperation alone could combat the globalization of terrorism and guarantee success. The coordination of States and within the framework of the United Nations was the most effective and reliable course ahead.
He said prompt objectives must be established and concrete action determined to attack the roots of evil -- not a new evil, but one which had reached incomprehensible proportions on 11 September. He noted that the concerns of the past were also part of the picture, including conflicts arising from the diverse problems of under-development. International cooperation must be intensified to meet the challenges of sustainable human development, which included problems of the environment and of education.
His country had been the victim in recent years of ongoing interference from European mercenaries, he said, and now it had the evil of separatism. But, it was prepared to move forward and was committed to combatting terrorism with strict respect for international law. It had adopted national measures and ratified instruments against international terrorism. He condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and expressed horror that such acts had taken the lives of so many innocent civilians.
OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said that although undeniable benefits and advantages had resulted from globalization, it had expanded to a worldwide scale the problems that once affected certain countries or regions in isolation. It was obvious that the phenomenon of terrorism had followed that route. Currently, no country was immune to its devastating scope. It was necessary to reaffirm that terrorism was the principle violator of human rights. Its bloodthirsty practice, its indiscriminate victims and the fact that it despised human life confirmed it. When a terrorist act was used in pursuit of any goal, it made that goal irredeemably illegitimate.
Countries needed each other more than ever in the struggle against terrorism, he continued. The international community had seen the dimension of the networks for the preparation, supplying, financing and refuge of terrorism. International cooperation in intelligence, police, judicial exercise and regulation of financial transfers was necessary. Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently mentioned that the only way to face a common enemy was by cooperation and partnership between all social forces –- the State, the private sector, the academic sector and civil society.
He said Peru recently adopted several measures that sought to become part of the international rules against terrorism. Among them was the signing of the International Agreement for the Repression of the Financing of Terrorism, as well as the acceptance of the Protocol for the Repression of Illegal Acts against the Safety of the Fixed Platforms Placed on the Continental Shelf. He repeated his Government’s most vigorous rejection of terrorism and renewed its commitment to contribute to the reinforcement of the juridical framework for its elimination.
MAKMUR WIDODO (Indonesia) said the danger of terrorism needed a universal response within a framework of concerted cooperation. The United Nations, as the only multilateral organization with universal membership, was uniquely placed to advance global efforts and to take effective measures. However, the approach should be based on justice and fairness rather than coercion and prejudice. The international community should guard against hasty decisions which might prove to be counter-productive.
Terrorism was simply indiscriminate acts of violence aimed towards the civilized world; attempts to depict it as a conflict between the west and the Islamic world were misleading and wrong. Islam was a religion of peace that neither taught nor condoned violence. Indonesia itself had experienced acts of terrorism emanating from separatist movements. National efforts alone would not suffice unless accompanied by regional endeavours. International cooperation was imperative. That should include exchange of information, training of personnel with a view to augmenting capacity, institution-building and the formulation of legal mechanisms.
He said terrorism threatened to undermine regional peace, global security and sustainable development. The international community was duty-bound to eradicate that scourge once and forever. His Government remained hopeful that together, with multilateral, regional and other cooperative efforts, including the participation of civil society, the United Nations would make significant contributions in rendering the world a safer and more secure place.
MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said his country had vigorously condemned the odious crime against mankind committed on 11 September. The attacks struck at the nerve centres of the United Nations. The attacks had not been the first of their type, but they had been truly devastating in their scope and impact. Syria had been a victim of terrorism, as had numerous Arab and other countries. For many years, it had called upon the international community to condemn all forms of terrorism, in particular State terrorism.
He emphasized that international cooperation to combat terrorism had been insufficient. In 1986, Syria’s President had proposed an international conference on the subject. The Assembly had considered the proposal then, but unfortunately that golden opportunity had been missed. He stressed that Arab countries had made tireless efforts to combat the scourge on the regional level. Syria had been among the first to adopt domestic legislation to combat terrorism and had signed numerous conventions to combat transnational organized crime, illicit trafficking in drugs and money-laundering. He affirmed the right of the United States, within the framework of the United Nations, to pursue the perpetrators. However, any action must be accompanied by irrefutable proof and not be aimed at entire peoples.
Foreign occupation was one of the most serious forms of terrorism, he said. Therefore, resistance against Israeli occupation was legitimate. The international community must act immediately to put an end to that occupation. Syria was dedicated to the moral and religious values forbidding murder of innocent people and to international law. It acted on the basis of the universal legacy of Arab countries, rejecting all forms of terrorism. Terrorism should not be linked with Islam or with Arabs. Joint efforts and cooperation must be aimed at a dialogue among civilizations. He, therefore, called for genuine international cooperation within the framework of the United Nations. Terrorism must be defined and its root causes dealt with. He called upon the international community to revive the peace process in the Middle East in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions. 11 September should become a turning point towards a better, not a darker future. Beyond the ruins, the ashes and darkness, the light of salvation could be seen.
LUIS DE MATOS MONTEIRO DA FONSECA (Cape Verde) said that after 11 September all of mankind was in danger. All over the world people wondered what would come next. Even worse tragedies could happen, if efforts were not coordinated. Those acts proved to be self-defeating –- it had been clearly condemned all over the world. No organization had the courage to admit to it. That provided hope, showing that there was belief in the message that terrorism would not be tolerated. All political parties in Cape Verde condemned the attacks, and ordinary citizens also congregated to show their concern. There were two official days of mourning.
He said his Government was studying closely the resolution passed last week by the Security Council, and Cape Verde was now looking to sign and ratify the conventions against terrorism that it had not yet acceded to. The perpetrators of those crimes needed to be punished, but it was also important to address the root causes of terrorism. As long as economic, social and cultural imbalances existed, and as long as the international community lacked the capacity to address the root causes, there would be no shortage of recruits willing to undertake terrorist acts. It was important to promote economic, social and cultural development in developing countries. A stronger commitment was needed by the developed countries and that should begin now.
The scope of the terrorist attacks heightened awareness of the need to eradicate that scourge, he said. Cape Verde supported the adoption of a general convention against terrorism. It was understood that there was no consensus on a definition of terrorism, but it would be important to reach compromises so it could be adopted. The Non-Aligned Movement’s proposal to convene a meeting to have a unified response to address terrorism should be considered by the General Assembly.
SRGJAN KERIM (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said that his Government had decided to prepare draft legislation on combating terrorism, as well as to amend already existing legislation to comply with relevant regional and international conventions and other decisions of the United Nations. The Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia was ready to cooperate and participate in the international activities against terrorism. He stressed, however, that as the international community plunged into battle against terrorism it must recognize that no religion, people or region should be targeted because of the unspeakable acts of individuals.
The most important question now was how to deal with the global threat while strengthening the capacity of international peace and security efforts within the Organization, he said. The existing body of United Nations Conventions provided a solid international legal framework to implement many of the steps that must be taken. Fully implementing those Conventions would require changes in national legal codes, such as those dealing with border control or policies on asylum. All States should be urged to accede to and/or accelerate ratification of the existing Conventions. At the same time, the Sixth Committee would have to intensify its work on draft conventions pertaining to international terrorism.
He said the bitter experience of south-eastern Europe in the conflicts in the region should be taken into account while implementing Council resolution 1373 (2001). That experience had proved the inter-linkage of terrorism, the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering. While all nations were preoccupied with the aftermath of 11 September, they also needed to address the conditions that had given rise to the growth of such hatred and depravity. The United Nations must concentrate its efforts on the obligations and commitments contained in the Millennium Declaration. Globalization and interdependence bought enormous benefits, but it created new strategic risks -– the vulnerability of globally integrated information and communications structures, the diffusion of potentially dangerous technologies, or the combination of fundamentalism, and political irresponsibility and the access to weapons of mass destruction. Those were global challenges and no State could guarantee security, peace and stability by itself. At the conclusion of his statement, he seconded the proposal to declare 11 September an international day in the struggle against terrorism.
PIERRE SCHORI (Sweden) said that the international community had been shocked by the viciousness of the abominable terrorist attack in the United States three weeks ago, targeting innocent civilians and extinguishing thousands of lives. He conveyed Sweden’s deep sympathy for the victims and their families and friends. He agreed with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani that the attack had struck at core values endorsed by the international communities -- democracy, tolerance, openness and cooperation.
In response to the terrorist act, the Organization "should answer with resolve and unity, and ensure that similar events are never repeated," he said. His Government recognized the right to take measures of self-defence to prevent a similar atrocity, but any response should avoid civilian casualties. Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) had identified a range of important measures to prevent and combat terrorism, including stopping the flow of funds for terrorist activities, improving information exchange, eliminating the supply of weapons to terrorists, bringing persons involved in those acts to justice and denying safe haven for terrorists. Sweden, for its part, would look into supplying technical assistance to strengthen the global struggle against terrorism.
He stressed the vital importance of the legal framework provided by the 12 conventions and protocols on international terrorism adopted by the United Nations. "These instruments should be signed, ratified and implemented worldwide without delay", he said. Efforts should also be redoubled to finalize negotiations on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, as proposed by India, and to progress on a convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, as proposed by the Russian Federation. The tragedy of 11 September had highlighted the need for intensified efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles. Greater effort should also be made to prevent the uncontrolled spread of small arms and light weapons, which had been used in numerous terrorist acts.
KAMALESH SHARMA (India) said that his country had been victimized by terrorism several times, as recently as this week. Though the target of the 11 September attack had been the United States, it was not alone in its suffering, as many nations had lost people. To mount an attack on the terrorists responsible, even the most powerful country in the world needed the assistance of a coalition. Attacking the symptoms of terrorism, the anathema of the new century, was not sufficient. It must be destroyed as a system.
Those who feared that the war against terrorism would turn into a witch hunt should remember that, as the Security-General had said, the laws of civilized behaviour should apply to all. One could either be for civilization or for terrorism -- there was no middle ground. States that had espoused the idea that only States committed human rights violations should remember that the terrorists violated human rights egregiously by depriving people of their fundamental right to life. Terrorists also wished to undermine human rights in a more insidious manner, by impeding the progresssion of plural, democratic societies towards greater freedom and by forcing States to take draconian measures to combat the threat of terrorism.
He said that the Security Council had created a legal framework for collective and individual action to fight a common evil in resolution 1373 (2001). The General Assembly must do at least as much, and further develop a system of law within which action could be taken. Because no action against the perpetrators of the 11 September attacks could be taken under the existing international resolutions against terrorism, it was crucially important to adopt a comprehensive convention against terrorism at the current session.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said that terrorism constituted a serious challenge to human civilization and dignity, as well as a serious threat to international peace and security. The international community, therefore, must pool wisdom together and strengthen international cooperation against terrorism. The United Nations must play a leading role in the international effort to that end. Furthermore, the Security Council must play its due part and establish an international anti-terrorism mechanism. States must be encouraged to become parties as soon as possible to the existing international anti-terrorism conventions and faithfully implement them.
States must also take the necessary measures, in accordance with their national laws and international obligations, to cut off any financial, material, military and all other sorts of support to terrorists, and be determined in bringing perpetrators of terrorist acts to justice. He urged States to refrain from supporting or tolerating terrorists for whatever reason or in whatever manner.
China was strongly against linking terrorism to a certain religion or ethnicity, he said. In order to eliminate international terrorism, efforts must be made to address both the symptom and its underlying causes. He added that the diversity of civilization must be respected and that the issue of development be addressed vigorously, so as to enable people of all levels in all countries to benefit form globalization. Furthermore, the international community must strengthen its efforts to solve regional conflicts in a more positive manner and seek just and reasonable solutions on the basis of the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.
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