13 November 2001


Security Council Is Told United Nations "Uniquely Placed" to Foster
Cooperation among Governments in Taking Needed Action

NEW YORK, 12 November (UN Headquarters) -- This is the text of the statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan today at the meeting of the Security Council on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorists acts:

When I addressed the General Assembly on 1 October, I applauded the Council for acting so swiftly to enshrine in law the first steps needed to carry the fight against terrorism forward with new vigour and determination. I am delighted to see today that this determination is reflected at the most senior levels of your Governments.

Security Council resolution 1373 is a broad resolution aimed at targeting terrorists and those who harbour them, aid or support them. The resolution requires Member States to cooperate in a wide range of areas –- from suppressing the financing of terrorism to providing early warning, cooperating in criminal investigations, and exchanging information on possible terrorist acts.

The "Counter-Terrorism Committee", chaired by Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom, has produced a work programme which sets out the focus of the Committee’s work in the first 90-day period and establishes mechanisms for States to report progress on implementation of the resolution.

These reports will play an indispensable role in identifying and cataloguing existing policies and instruments. They should provide the benchmark for the international community as it assesses its ability to combat international terrorism. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all States to ensure the full implementation of resolution 1373, and to submit their replies by late December.

I have recently established a Working Group to identify the longer-term implications and broad policy dimensions of the issue of terrorism for the United Nations. It will also formulate recommendations for me on steps the United Nations system might take. It brings together senior officials from the United Nations as well as outside experts.

The United Nations is uniquely placed to facilitate cooperation between governments in the fight against terrorism. The legitimacy that the United Nations conveys can ensure that the greatest number of States are able and willing to take the necessary and difficult steps -– diplomatic, legal and political -– that are needed to defeat terrorism.

The fight against terrorism must begin with ensuring that the 12 legal instruments on international terrorism already drafted and adopted under United Nations auspices are signed, ratified and implemented without delay by all States. It will also be important to obtain agreement on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.

As I told the General Assembly on 1 October, I understand and accept the need for legal precision in defining terrorism. But there is also a need for moral clarity. There can be no acceptance of those who seek to justify the deliberate taking of innocent civilian life, regardless of cause or grievance.

In addition to measures taken by individual Member States, we must now strengthen the global norms against the use or proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We must also strengthen controls over other types of weapons that pose grave dangers through terrorist use. This means doing more to ensure a ban on the sale of small arms to non-State groups; making progress in eliminating landmines; improving the physical protection of sensitive industrial facilities, including nuclear and chemical plants; and increased vigilance against cyber-terrorist threats.

While the international community’s resolve to fight terrorism is a welcome development, it risks treating terrorism as a single phenomenon. The reality is that, like war, terrorism is an immensely complicated phenomenon with multiple objectives and causes, a multitude of weapons and agents, and virtually limitless manifestations.

The only common denominator among different variants of terrorism is the calculated use of deadly violence against civilians for political purposes.

It is, however, this common denominator that provides the United Nations with a common cause and a common agenda. I salute the Council for making such speedy progress on this vital issue. Ultimately, our success will be measured in terrorist acts thwarted and lives saved, but I am confident that the unity born of 11 September can be sustained in the months and years ahead.

* *** *