TREATY ON SUPPRESSION OF FINANCING
(Received from a UN Information Officer.)
NEW YORK, 5 April (UN Headquarters) -- A new and potentially powerful anti-terrorism measure, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, will enter into force on 10 April 2002, having received more than the required 22 ratifications. The Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 9 December 1999, and was opened for signature on 10 January 2000. As of 2 April 2002, 132 countries had signed the Convention, and 26 countries had completed the ratification process and become States Parties.
The speed with which this Convention has been ratified by Member States illustrates the heightened commitment of the international community to combating terrorism in all its forms, especially in the aftermath of the events of 11 September 2001. Twenty-two of the 26 ratifications/accessions received to date took place after the terrorist attacks on the United States.
In response to those attacks, the Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, adopted resolution 1373 on 28 September 2001. In that resolution, the Council called upon States to "become parties as soon as possible to the relevant international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism, including the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism of 9 December 1999." This request had a catalytic effect and contributed to the speed of the ratifications. This is the first time the Security Council, acting under Chapter VII, has directed such a request to all States.
The United Nations General Assembly initiated work on this Treaty in 1998, following a proposal put forward by France. The 28-article text criminalizes the act of providing or collecting funds with the intention or knowledge that those funds will be used to carry out a terrorist attack, according to particular definitions. These are found in nine previously adopted anti-terrorism conventions, which are listed in an annex to the Convention (for the text see, the Web site: untreaty.un.org). The Convention itself provides one more: an act which is intended to cause death or serious injury to a civilian with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or organization either to carry out, or not to carry out, a particular action.
The Convention adds substantial strength and enforcement opportunities to the network of interlocking conventions on various acts of terrorism created by the international community over the last 30 years. Increasingly, international terrorist activity has become interlinked with other modern scourges, such as drug trafficking and the proliferation of small arms. The new Convention recognizes that financing is at the heart of terrorist activity, and it paves the way for concerted action and close cooperation among law enforcement agencies, financial authorities and States. It calls for efforts to identify, detect, and freeze or seize any funds used or allocated for the purpose of committing a terrorist act. It also asks that States consider establishing mechanisms to use such funds to compensate victims and/or their families. It calls upon financial institutions to pay special attention to unusual or suspicious transactions and to report to the government any such transactions that they suspect may be connected to criminal activity.
It is intended that, by impeding the flow of cash to terrorists and by prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators, the Convention will help to suppress future acts of terrorism. States parties to the Convention are obligated to bring their laws into agreement with the Convention, and to develop and implement mechanisms to meet the standards it sets out. For example, they must take measures that would allow "legal entities" to be held liable for actions taken by a person responsible for the management or control of that entity. They must also ensure that criminal acts covered by the Convention will, under no circumstances, be considered justifiable -- for example, due to any political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic or religious considerations.
The Convention obliges States Parties to prosecute offenders or to extradite them to the parties that suffered from their illegal acts. States Parties are required to cooperate with and assist other States in investigations and preventive efforts. For example, a State Party may not refuse a request for mutual legal assistance on the grounds of banking secrecy.
The United Nations Secretary-General has said, "Terrorism, wherever it occurs, essentially affects the lives of innocent men, women and children. It is a scourge that challenges civilized society and we should spare no effort in our endeavours to eliminate it." Accordingly, with the entry into force of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, governments are strengthening the international legal framework and thereby advancing the rule of law in international relations.
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