Press Releases

    13 June 2002

    Spread of Terrorism Threat to Very Foundations of United Nations Says Secretary-General to Lisbon Anti-Terrorism Meeting

    NEW YORK, 12 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, delivered on his behalf by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Danilo Turk, to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) High-level Conference on Preventing and Combating Terrorism in Lisbon, Portugal, on 12 June:

    The scale of the terrorist attacks that took place on 11 September last year has prompted an unprecedented international effort to coordinate action in the fight against terrorism.

    International and regional organizations have responded swiftly to this new challenge, and have placed terrorism clearly on their agendas. Now, the challenge is to make international efforts effective.

    The spread of terrorism is a threat to the very foundations of the United Nations, and to the spirit of its Charter. Over the years, the Organization has played an important role in establishing a legal framework for the eradication of terrorism through one of its basic roles: the codification of international law - more specifically through 12 United Nations anti-terrorist conventions and protocols. These conventions must be strictly observed and effectively implemented if terrorism is to be defeated.

    More recently, and especially since 1999, the Security Council has emphasized that international terrorism constitutes a threat to international peace and security. In its resolution 1373, the Security Council underscored the need to fight terrorists and those who aid, harbour or support them. The Council established a Counter-Terrorism Committee that is currently reviewing the measures taken by United Nations Member States to implement that resolution. The international community should ensure that appropriate assistance will be made available to States in need of help in implementing resolution 1373.

    While the international community must be resolute in countering terrorism, it must be scrupulous in the ways in which this effort is pursued. The fight against terrorism should not lead to the adoption of measures that are incompatible with human rights standards. Such a development would hand a victory to those who so blatantly disregard human rights in their use of terror. Greater respect for human rights, accompanied by democracy and social justice, will in the long term prove effective measures against terror. The design and enforcement of means to fight terrorism should, therefore, be carried out in strict adherence with international human rights obligations.

    Nor should the current focus on counter-terrorism obscure the wider work of the United Nations and other international organizations. Indeed, key areas of work of the Organization's global mission, such as disarmament, controls over weapons of mass destruction, and crime prevention, are directly related to the fight against terrorism.

    This conference is an important contribution to the efforts of the international community to rise to this challenge in a spirit of cooperation. I wish you all success in your deliberations.

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