10 March 2005

Secretary-General Kofi Annan Launches Global Strategy against Terrorism in Madrid

Agreement on Terrorism Convention, Respect for Human Rights, and Strengthening State Capacity to Prevent Terrorist Acts Are Key Elements of Strategy

NEW YORK, 10 March (UN Headquarters) -- United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today called on Member States to adopt a common approach to fighting terrorism. He especially urged countries to work towards a unified understanding of the threat and to overcome arguments and long negotiations about how to define it which had for too long weakened the moral authority of the Organization. Speaking to an international audience in Madrid, the Secretary-General outlined the key elements of a United Nations system-wide strategy to counter terrorism world-wide.

In the speech, he detailed the five basic pillars of what he termed as a “principled, comprehensive strategy” to fight terrorism globally:

In detailing these “five D’s” as the backbone of the new anti-terrorism strategy, the Secretary-General called on Member States to cut through the political debates on “state terrorism” and the “right to resist occupation” and agree to complete a comprehensive convention outlawing terrorism in all its forms. The Secretary-General urged leaders to unite behind the clear definition of terrorism as proposed by the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change as a basis to guide their work. The Panel calls for a definition of terrorism which would make it clear that “any action constitutes terrorism if it is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants, with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act.”

The Secretary-General stressed that not only political leaders, “but civil society and religious leaders should clearly denounce terrorist tactics as criminal and inexcusable.” He pointed out that the true root cause of terrorism stems from the belief that terrorist groups think their tactics are effective and approved at least by those in whose name they claim to commit them. “Our job is to show unequivocally that they are wrong”, he said.

Another cornerstone of global counter-terrorism efforts is to make all states more capable and responsible of preventing, resisting and dealing with terrorist actions. The Secretary-General stated that this means “promoting good governance and above all the rule of law, with professional police and security forces who respect human rights.”  The respect for human rights in itself is singled out as one of the key elements of the “five D’s”. The Secretary-General pointed out that “(upholding) human rights is not merely compatible with a successful counter-terrorism strategy. It is an essential element of it.”

As for the implementation of the key measures of the strategy, the Secretary-General announced the creation of a special task force within his office which would meet regularly to review the handling of terrorism and related issues throughout the UN system. The Secretary-General made it clear that he wants all parts of the system to play their proper role: “All Departments and Agencies of the United Nations can and must contribute to carrying out this strategy.”

The Secretary-General was addressing the closing plenary of the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security held in Madrid to commemorate the victims of the railway station bombings of last year. The need for a UN system-wide comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy was stressed by the High-Level Panel in its report issued in December. The Panel called on the Secretary-General to take the lead in crafting such a strategy.


For further information: www.un.org/terrorism  or contact Janos Tisovszky, United Nations
Department of Public Information, Tel:+ 1-917-367-2068, e-mail: tisovszky@un.org.