3 April 2003

General Assembly's Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism Recommends Legal Committee Working Group for Two Draft Treaties

NEW YORK, 2 April (UN Headquarters) -- Concluding its seventh session this morning, the General Assembly's Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism recommended that the Sixth Committee (Legal) consider establishing a working group, at its fifty-eighth session, to continue the elaboration of two draft conventions, namely a comprehensive convention on international terrorism and an international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.

Formally known as the Ad Hoc Committee Established by General Assembly Resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996, the Ad Hoc Committee has the mandate to harmonize legal structures for combating international terrorism. The Committee's work has so far led to the adoption of two treaties: one on terrorist bombings; and the other on the suppression of the financing of terrorist activities.

Adopting the draft report of its three-day session, as orally amended, the Committee also recommended keeping on its agenda the question of convening a high-level conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, to formulate a joint organized response of the international community to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Introducing the draft report (contained in document A/AC.252/2003/CRP.1), Committee Rapporteur, Lublin Dilja (Albania), said it consisted of three sections and two annexes. The first three sections contained information on the Committee's mandate and composition, a description of its proceedings, as well as the draft recommendation. Annex I contained an informal summary of the Committee's general discussion. The two-part second annex included the reports of the coordinators on informal negotiations on the two draft conventions.

The comprehensive convention on international terrorism would be aimed at filling in the gaps left by sectoral treaties, which deal exclusively with particular manifestations of terrorist activity. While preliminary agreement has been reached on the majority of the draft treaty's 27 articles, the issues of the convention's scope (article 18), the preamble, a definition of phrases (article 1) and a definition of terrorism (article 2) are still outstanding Negotiations on the draft comprehensive convention, submitted by India, began at the Committee's fifth session in 2001.

In concluding remarks, Committee Chairperson, Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka), said that during the session, delegations had been able to deepen their understanding of the critical remaining issues. It was encouraging to note that delegations remained engaged in issues and willing to maintain momentum in the quest for solutions. While the issues at hand were complex and politically sensitive, the Committee must grapple with issues concerning the future of its work programme. There was still time for innovation and creativity in exploring possible new approaches to find acceptable compromises on pending issues.

Before adopting the report, the representatives of Syria, Pakistan and Tunisia suggested several amendments to the draft report. Speaking at the conclusion of the meeting were the representatives of Sudan, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and Greece, on behalf of the European Union.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism will meet again at a date to be announced.

* *** *