28 February 2006

Committee Charged with Negotiating Comprehensive Counter-Terrorism Convention Opens Weeklong Headquarters Session

NEW YORK, 27 February (UN Headquarters) -- Stressing the significance of the comprehensive convention on international terrorism that the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 is currently negotiating, its Chairman, Roham Perera (Sri Lanka), said that the challenge was to reach a consensus on a text that would "fill the lacunae in the existing counter-terrorism legal framework, while preserving the acquis of other important fields of international law."

"We set out to draft an instrument that would cover a range of terrorist acts and provide the tools for greatly increased international cooperation in the fight against international terrorism", he said as the Committee opened its five-day session this morning.  The main issue that remained to be resolved was the applicability of this draft instrument to various situations already covered by other fields of international law.  While that was a complex issue, he had full faith that all delegations would do their utmost to bridge the existing gaps and reach a compromise consensus solution.

In his opening statement, the Chairman recalled that the World Summit had stressed the need to make every effort to reach an agreement on and conclude the convention during the sixtieth session of the Assembly.  The Ad Hoc Committee must, therefore, exert all efforts to discharge that important mandate at its current session.

The coming week presented both a challenge and an opportunity, he stressed.  Although the issues were complex and sensitive, the time had come for a determined effort to resolve the outstanding issues and conclude the drafting.  The Committee now had an important opportunity for sustained constructive dialogue, and he urged the participants to take full advantage of the time in their disposal, build on the progress already made and avoid reopening issues on which substantial agreement had been reached.

Also this morning, Carlos Fernando Diaz Paniagua (Costa Rica), Maria Telalian (Greece), and Sabelo Sivuyile Maqungo (South Africa) were elected as the Committee's Vice-Chairpersons.  Lublin Dilja (Albania) will continue to serve as the Committee's Rapporteur.

Other organizational decisions adopted today related to the Committee's agenda and the programme of work for this week.  Under the terms of resolution 60/43 of 8 December 2005, during its five-day session, the Ad Hoc Committee is expected to continue to elaborate the draft on an expedited basis.  It is also mandated to continue to discuss the item concerning 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.

The Committee will hold its next open meeting at a date to be announced.

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