Press Releases

    7 October 2002



    NEW YORK, 4 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council at today’s meeting to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Committee on Counter-Terrorism:

    Your meeting today reflects your determination to confront reality rather than escape from it; to recognize an evil rather than excuse it.

    Your decision, a year ago, to establish the Counter-Terrorism Committee was a swift and concrete reaction to the terrorist attacks of 11 September. It showed that this Council was willing to act, as well as speak, in defence of every country, and every citizen, threatened by international terrorism.

    Terrorism is a global threat with global effects; its methods are murder and mayhem, but its consequences affect every aspect of the United Nations agenda -- from development to peace to human rights and the rule of law.

    No part of our mission is safe from the effects of terrorism; and no part of the world is immune from this scourge.

    By its very nature, terrorism is an assault on the fundamental principles of law, order, human rights, and peaceful settlement of disputes upon which the United Nations is established. Countering terrorism, therefore, is in the interest not only of States and intergovernmental institutions but also of local, national, and global civil society.

    This Organization, therefore, has a clear obligation to deal with this global threat. But it is also well placed to do so. The United Nations has an indispensable role to play in providing the legal and organizational framework within which the international campaign against terrorism can unfold.

    Let me here pay tribute to the Counter-Terrorism Committee and its Chairman, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, for its work in ensuring the implementation by all Member States of an effective counter-terrorism strategy.

    Through its work, the Counter-Terrorism Committee has become an important agent for international consensus on counter-terrorism, calling for the effective implementation of the 12 international anti-terrorism conventions. Moreover, the Counter-Terrorism Committee has helped to strengthen global capacity in this field, through a coordinated programme of needs-assessment and technical assistance. Let me also say that I very much welcome the Chairman’s intention to consult with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

    Last autumn, to identify the long-term implications and broad policy dimensions of terrorism for the United Nations, I set up a Policy Working Group on the United Nations and Terrorism. It combined the expertise of key agencies, programmes and departments within the Organization with that of independent specialists. On 28 June this year, the Group submitted a report, with recommendations on steps that the United Nations can take.

    The report, which I made public on 10 September, contains proposals for a strategic definition of priorities to orient the Organization’s work in this complex field. I endorse the three-pronged strategy suggested by the report.

    When approaching issues related to terrorism, the United Nations will set itself three goals: dissuasion, denial, and cooperation.

    First, we must dissuade the would-be perpetrators of terror by setting effective norms and implementing relevant legal instruments; by an active public information campaign; and by rallying international consensus behind the fight against terrorism. To achieve effective dissuasion, it is essential to remember that the fight against terrorism is above all a fight to preserve fundamental rights and sustain the rule of law.

    By their very nature, terrorist acts are grave violations of human rights. Therefore, to pursue security at the expense of human rights is short-sighted, self-contradictory, and, in the long run, self-defeating. In places where human rights and democratic values are lacking, disaffected groups are more likely to opt for a path of violence, or to sympathize with those who do.

    Second, we must deny would-be terrorists the opportunity to commit their dreadful acts. We can do this by supporting the efforts of the Counter-Terrorism Committee to monitor compliance with Security Council resolution 1373; by greater efforts to achieve disarmament -- especially through strengthening global norms against the use or proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and by giving technical support to States seeking to curb the flow of arms, funds, and technology to terrorist cells.

    To be effective and sustainable, a strategy of denial must be grounded in both international and domestic law. It is not good enough to sign the key international instruments. We must implement them as well.

    Given the levels of inhumanity to which modern-day terrorists have descended, efforts to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction have assumed new urgency.

    Other legal instruments, such as those that deal with transnational crime, narcotics, and money laundering, are essential to denying sources of finance for terrorist networks. States must ensure that these instruments are adopted and effectively applied. Moreover, the struggle against terrorism demands closer analysis of its links with crime, narcotics, and the illicit trade in weapons.

    There may, in addition, be a need for the General Assembly to consider making more resources available to ensure that the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee is effective and sustainable over the long term. As I have mentioned in the past, the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s unprecedented effort to review national reports on the implementation of international legal instruments relating to terrorism has stretched, almost to breaking point, the Secretariat’s resources for processing documentation.

    Third, we must sustain cooperation in the struggle against terrorism on as broad a basis as possible, while encouraging subregional, regional, and global organizations to join forces in a common campaign. In overcoming as elusive a transnational threat as terrorism, cooperation is essential. Fortunately, there has been some progress. The United Nations is committed to working with international partners in the fight against terrorism, and to achieving unity of purpose and action.

    Just as terrorism must never be excused, so must genuine grievances never be ignored simply because terrorism is committed in their name. It does not take away from the justice of a cause that a few wicked men or women commit murder in its name. It only makes it more urgent that the cause is addressed, the grievances heard, and the wrong put right.

    As the United Nations unites to defeat terrorism in the months and years ahead, we must act with equal determination to solve the political disputes and long-standing conflicts which generate support for terrorism. To do so is not to reward terrorism or its perpetrators; it is to deny them the opportunity to find refuge, in any cause, any country. Only then can we truly say that the war on terrorism has been won.

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