Press Releases

    21 January 2002


    NEW YORK, 18 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the statement by Secretary- General Kofi Annan at today’s Security Council meeting on counter-terrorism:

    This meeting is essentially an opportunity for Member States to discuss the work of the Counter- Terrorism Committee established by resolution 1373.

    That means it is [Committee Chairman] Sir Jeremy Greenstock’s show rather than mine. You are all eager to hear from him, I am sure, and I shall therefore confine myself to a few brief points.

    First, I greatly welcome the energy, and the spirit of cooperation, with which Member States have reacted to the terrorist attacks of 11 September. The work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, and the cooperation it has received from Member States, have been unprecedented and exemplary.

    I will not delay you now by describing in detail the actions we in the Secretariat are taking in response, or the parallel work relating to International Legal Instruments, about which the Legal Counsel has briefed the Committee on several occasions. Let me simply mention here that we are currently using more than 25 per cent of our resources allocated to documentation to processing the national reports submitted to the Committee by Member States, in order to facilitate the Committee’s review of them. This is an unprecedented effort, which I fear cannot be sustained for long when those very same resources are being reduced by the General Assembly.

    Through the work of this Committee, Member States are for once really using this Organization in the way its founders intended –- as an instrument through which to forge a global defence against a global threat. I firmly hope to see the same spirit of unity and resolve manifested in tackling other global threats, ranging from weapons of mass destruction to HIV/AIDS or climate change.

    Secondly, the Committee’s work has already highlighted the close connections between terrorism and various other activities that the United Nations has been seeking to repress, or at least to bring under control.

    I am thinking particularly of organized crime and the illicit traffic in weapons, drugs, and other commodities such as diamonds.

    We will surely deal more effectively with all these things if we act more coherently. That means we must ensure closer coordination between different United Nations bodies.

    Thirdly, we should all be clear that there is no trade-off between effective action against terrorism and the protection of human rights.

    On the contrary, I believe that in the long term we shall find that human rights, along with democracy and social justice, are one of the best prophylactics against terrorism.

    Terrorism is a weapon for alienated, desperate people, and often a product of despair. If human beings everywhere are given real hope of achieving self-respect and a decent life by peaceful methods, terrorists will become much harder to recruit, and will receive far less sympathy and support from society at large.

    Therefore, while we certainly need vigilance to prevent acts of terrorism, and firmness in condemning and punishing them, it will be self-defeating if we sacrifice other key priorities -– such as human rights -– in the process.

    Of course, the protection of human rights is not primarily the responsibility of this Council –- it belongs to other United Nations bodies, whose work you do not need to duplicate. But there is a need to take into account the expertise of those bodies, and make sure that the measures you adopt do not unduly curtail human rights, or give others a pretext to do so.

    Finally, many States lack the capacity to adopt effective counter-terrorist measures. They are in genuine need of technical and financial assistance if they are to fulfil their obligations.

    This issue has been recognized from the beginning, and in resolution 1377 the Council instructed the Counter-Terrorism Committee to explore assistance programmes and best practice.

    I know it has been doing so, and I hope it will produce a precise inventory of needs in this area, on the basis of which the United Nations system and the Bretton Woods institutions can design specific projects.

    In conclusion, Mr. President, let me repeat that the United Nations stands four-square against terrorism, no matter what end it purports to serve. Our urgent business, building on the excellent work of your Committee, must now be to develop a long-term strategy to enable all States to undertake the hard steps needed to defeat terrorism.

    I believe they can only do so when the global struggle against terrorism is seen as necessary and legitimate by their peoples -– and that such universal legitimacy is something the United Nations can do much to confer.

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