Press Releases

    29 June 2004

    Republic of Korea Delegate Urges General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee to Conclude Draft Treaties on International Terrorism

    Humanity Deserves No Less, He Stresses in Wake of Korean National’s Beheading by Terrorists in Iraq

    NEW YORK, 28 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following last week’s abduction and killing of a Korean national by terrorists in Iraq, the representative of the Republic of Korea today urged the Ad Hoc Committee on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism to conclude talks on the two draft treaties before it -- one on international terrorism and the other on suppression of nuclear terrorism -- stressing that humanity deserved nothing less. 

    Concerned that recent sessions had made little progress, the representative of the Republic of Korea said that long-standing debates on whether to distinguish national liberation movements and resistance to foreign occupation from international terrorism, and whether to bring the activities of armed forces within the scope of the conventions, had been contentious for years and were not likely to be resolved soon.  The conventions, however, did not need to deal specifically with those issues.

    The Ad Hoc Committee, whose annual session runs from today until 2 July, was established by the General Assembly in 1996 to elaborate an international convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings and, subsequently, an international convention for the suppression of nuclear terrorism, to supplement related existing international instruments.  It seeks to address means of further developing a comprehensive legal framework of conventions dealing with international terrorism under a mandate that is reviewed and revised annually by the Assembly.

    Turkey’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), also reiterated the need for progress in the negotiations of the comprehensive convention on terrorism, calling on other States to cooperate proactively in resolving the outstanding issues. But it was important to arrive at a clear and universally agreed definition of terrorism. The OIC believed that terrorism and the struggles of people fighting for self-determination against foreign occupation should be differentiated. 

    Israel’s representative, however, said that the language of the treaties must not distinguish between “good terrorism and bad terrorism”.  While the obstacles preventing consensus were political in nature, rather than legal, the Committee must try not to repeat the message of its recent deadlocked sessions.  Israel proposed a return to the issue after a certain pause, which might inject the necessary conditions to conclude the conventions without compromising on their content or function. 

    The representative of the United States suggested that past successes to elaborate other counter-terrorism instruments had been based largely on the realization that they were law enforcement instruments designed to deal with the conduct of terrorist acts perpetrated by individuals and groups.  They had not been efforts to resolve general political issues, which properly fell within the jurisdiction of other United Nations bodies.  The best way forward was to focus again on the law enforcement nature of the instruments being addressed. 

    Costa Rica’s representative, urging the Committee to complete negotiations on both drafts, said that the international struggle against terrorism should be allocated to an independent, centralized, professional, standardized body at the very centre of the Organization.  The time had come to establish a United Nations office of the high commissioner against terrorism, which would, among other tasks, harness scattered resources and replace existing anti-terrorism bodies.

    India’s representative, whose delegation had previously submitted proposals for the draft convention on terrorism, noted that the Committee had reached agreement on most of them, yet some important ones, namely article 2 on definitions and scope, and article 18 on exclusion of security forces, were still outstanding. Last year’s session had been helpful in identifying areas requiring further work and compromise. Adoption of the convention would send a strong signal that the international community was united in its determination to work together to combat terrorism.

    Committee Chairman Rohan Perera (Sri Lanka) said that the few outstanding issues, while no doubt complex, were not insurmountable and it was up to the Committee to find an acceptable solution.  Given the commitment to combat international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, it would be possible to garner the political will and motivation to move forward at the current session.  Every effort should be made to ensure that the Committee made its due contribution to ongoing efforts to devise an effective legal framework of cooperation to combat the terrorism phenomenon. 

    In other business, the Committee adopted its agenda and reaffirmed the continuation of the elected Bureau for a further session.  In addition to the Chairman, its members are:  Vice-Chairmen Carlos Fernando Diaz Paniagua (Costa Rica), Albert Hoffmann (South Africa), and Michael Bliss (Australia); and Rapporteur Lublin Dilja (Albania). 

    Also making general statements today were the representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Pakistan; Ireland (on behalf of the European Union); Brazil (on behalf of the Rio Group); Sri Lanka; Tunisia; Cuba; Syria; Algeria; Sudan; Jordan; Libya; and Nepal. 

    Turkey’s representative took the floor a second time in a national capacity and Cuba’s representative spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

    The Ad Hoc Committee will meet again formally on Thursday, 1 July, to hear oral reports by the Coordinators on the two draft conventions.

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