20 October 2003


Delegates from 45 Countries Speak in Continuing Debate

NEW YORK, 17 October (UN Headquarters) -- Concerted global action carried out in context of the United Nations and all its relevant organs was the only way to defeat the scourge of terrorism, delegates of the Sixth Committee (Legal) affirmed in two meetings today as they continued debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism.

Speakers were responding to a recommendation by the working group of the Ad Hoc Committee charged with elaborating two drafts conventions on terrorism that work on the instruments should continue.  The texts are a comprehensive convention on international terrorism and an international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.

The Ad Hoc Committee was established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996, to prepare the instruments.  The working group also recommended continuation of talks on the convening of a high-level conference under United Nations auspices to formulate a joint organized response of the international community to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.


Delegations called for a definition of terrorism to be included in the comprehensive convention, and for a clear distinction to be drawn between terrorism and the legitimate right of peoples to resist foreign occupation.  Some expressed disappointment that negotiations were stalled by a lack of political will on a matter of the greatest urgency.  Others expressed disapproval at the linking of the two conventions so as to preclude finalization of one without the other.

The representative of the United States said countries needed to put domestic anti-terrorist legislation in place to regulate terror-related activities in such areas as banking, charities and borders.  He said those who did not do all they could to combat terrorism were putting all States at risk.  Supporting the global campaign against terror called for a broad counter-terrorism agenda on the diplomatic, financial, military, intelligence and law enforcement fronts. 

Australia’s representative said the time had come to put the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) on a firmer organizational footing.  A small permanent secretariat should be established and funded from existing resources.  The delegate of the Russian Federation called for strengthening the Committee and consideration of a global assistance fund in that context.

A number of States, including Morocco and Tunisia, welcomed the involvement of multiple United Nations organs in combating the terrorism scourge.  They urged the Counter-Terrorism Committee to work closely with regional organizations.  Numerous delegates, including the Niger’s, called for help in capacity-building and technical assistance.

China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, among many others, expressed opposition to misusing the war on terrorism to achieve political or other goals.  They called for a strengthening of the United Nations role in the fight.

Mozambique’s representative, among many others, reinforced the call for a global effort led by the United Nations in fighting terrorism.  He underscored the need never to interpret the fight against terrorism as a conflict between nations, religions or civilizations.  Kazakhstan’s representative called for a dialogue among civilizations, since the “Islamic threat” was one of the most dangerous myths ever to make the headlines.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Zambia, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Yemen, Republic of Korea, Suriname, Kenya, Algeria, Mali, Malaysia, Swaziland, Kuwait, South Africa, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Myanmar, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Jordan, Madagascar, Viet Nam (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Armenia, Serbia and Montenegro, New Zealand, Brazil, Guatemala, Qatar, Oman, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Maldives, Libya and Egypt.

Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka), Chairman of both the working group and the Ad Hoc Committee, introduced the reports of both bodies on Wednesday.  At that meeting, he urged delegations to work with their capitals in resolving the outstanding issues on both conventions.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 20 October, to complete its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism and to take up the question of administration of justice at the United Nations, before moving on to the question of the International Criminal Court.

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