3 May 2006

Presenting Recommendations for Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy to General Assembly, Secretary-General Calls for Demonstration of Resolve by International Community

NEW YORK, 2 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the address to the General Assembly today by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the launch of Uniting against terrorism:  Recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy:

I deeply regret that last week, in the Fifth Committee, Member States were unable to reach consensus on the proposals I had put before you on management reform.  In spite of this, I am convinced that all Member States remain committed to reform in principle, and I urge you to work together to rebuild the spirit of mutual trust that is essential to the smooth functioning of this Organization.

I am, as always, ready to help in your continued search for agreement on ways to pursue the agenda set out in the Outcome document of the 2005 World Summit.  In particular, you will recall that in that document, your Heads of State and Government asked me to "submit proposals to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations system to assist States in combating terrorism and enhance coordination of United Nations activities in this regard".

At the outset let me join the President in offering sympathy and condolences to countries and people and families who have suffered from terrorism and have lost loved ones.

And you will recall that they also urged you -- that is, the Heads of State and Government -- to develop without delay the elements I had identified, "with a view to adopting and implementing a strategy to promote comprehensive, coordinated and consistent responses, at the national, regional and international level, to counter terrorism".

Today, I have the privilege of presenting to you my vision on that matter, contained in the document Uniting against terrorism:  Recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy.

These recommendations stem from a fundamental conviction which we all share:  that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes, is unacceptable and can never be justified.

Uniting around that conviction is the basis for what I hope will be a collective global effort to fight terrorism -- an effort bringing together Governments, the United Nations and other international organizations, civil society and the private sector -- each using their comparative advantage to supplement the others' efforts.

In formulating my recommendations, I have built further on the "five Ds"-- the fundamental components which I first outlined in Madrid last year.  They are:

I believe all five are interlinked conditions crucial to the success of any strategy against terrorism.  To succeed, we will need to make progress on all these fronts.

Implementing a global strategy requires us to dissuade people from resorting to terrorism or supporting it, by driving a wedge between terrorists and their potential constituencies.  We need to launch a global campaign of Governments, the UN, civil society and the private sector, with the message that terrorism is unacceptable in any form, and that there are far better and more effective ways for those with genuine grievances to seek redress.  One of the clearest and most powerful ways we can do that is by refocusing our attention on the victims.  It is high time we took serious and concerted steps to build international solidarity with them, respecting their dignity, as well as expressing our compassion.

Denying terrorists the means to carry out an attack means denying them access both to conventional weapons and to weapons of mass destruction.  That will require innovative thinking from all of us about today's threats -- including those which States cannot address by themselves, such as bioterrorism.  Similarly, it will mean working together to counter terrorists' growing use of the Internet.  We must find ways to make sure that this powerful tool becomes a weapon in our hands, and not in theirs.

Our work in deterring States from supporting terrorism must be rooted firmly in the international rule of law -- creating a solid legal basis for common actions, and holding States accountable for their performance in meeting their obligations.  This work is intimately linked with the need to develop State capacity to defeat terrorism.

In response to a request I received last December from the President of the General Assembly, the document I am presenting today elaborates on steps to build State capacity, and to strengthen the Organization's work in this field.  The UN system has a vital contribution to make in all the relevant areas -- from promoting the rule of law and effective criminal justice systems to ensuring countries have the means to counter the financing of terrorism; from strengthening capacity to prevent nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological materials from falling into the hands of terrorists, to improving the ability of countries to provide assistance and support for victims and their families.

Finally, defending human rights runs like a scarlet thread through the report.  It is a prerequisite to every aspect of any effective counter-terrorism  strategy.  It is the bond that brings the different components together.  That means the human rights of all -- of the victims of terrorism, of those suspected of terrorism, of those affected by the consequences of terrorism.

States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism comply with their obligations under international law, in particular human rights law, refugee law and international humanitarian law.  Any strategy that compromises human rights will play right into the hands of the terrorists.

All States, in every region -- large or small, strong or weak -- are vulnerable to terrorism and its consequences.  They all stand to benefit from a strategy to counter it.  They all have a role to play in shaping such a strategy, in implementing it, and in ensuring that it is updated continuously to respond to challenges as they evolve.

It is also essential that Member States conclude, as soon as possible, a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.  However, lack of progress in building consensus on a convention cannot be a reason for delay in agreeing on a strategy.

By instructing you to adopt and implement a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy, your Heads of State and Government have given you a momentous challenge, and a historic opportunity.

By rising to that challenge, you will demonstrate the resolve of the international community, and lay the foundations of a truly global response to this vicious global scourge.  I hope my recommendations will help you in that vital mission.

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