Panel Discussion on Countering Terrorism
The United Nations Information Service (UNIS) today hosted a panel discussion to discuss issues related to the global strategy against terrorism unveiled by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his keynote address at the Madrid International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security on 10 March 2005.
The Panelists included Eduardo Vetere, Director, Division for Treaty Affairs, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); Jean-Paul Laborde, Chief, Terrorism Prevention Branch, UNODC; Walter Gehr, Project Coordinator, Terrorism Prevention Branch, UNODC and Dr. Peter R. Neumann, Programme Director of the Madrid International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security, and Research Fellow in International Terrorism, King's College London. Nasra Hassan, Director, UNIS Vienna and Spokesperson, UNODC, moderated the discussion.
In her introduction, Ms. Hassan referred to the key elements of a United Nations system-wide strategy to counter terrorism worldwide, as outlined by the Secretary-General. She briefly introduced the 5 Ds -- the five basic pillars of what Mr. Annan termed a principled, comprehensive strategy to fight terrorism globally. She also touched upon the work of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), and their current on-site mission to Morocco.
Mr. Vetere highlighted the agenda of the upcoming 11th World Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, saying that the outcomes from this Congress would impact criminal justice policies, national procedures and professional practises worldwide.
Mr. Laborde introduced the work of the Terrorism Prevention Branch, in the context of the Report of the Secretary-Generals High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. He outlined the work of his office in encouraging countries to ratify the 12 universal anti-terrorism instruments and assisting countries to strengthen their legal regimes against terrorism through technical assistance activities such as legislative drafting, implementation of new laws, and training of criminal justice officials. Mr. Laborde emphasized that international cooperation could be only take place, when a legal framework was put in place.
Mr. Gehr offered some practical examples of the nature of assistance provided by UNODC, referring to a legislative drafting workshop for Afghan experts.
Mr. Neumann introduced himself as representing the NGO Club de Madrid, and touched upon the highlights of the Madrid Agenda. He said that the Agenda was as far as we can get to a consensus on the issue of terrorism and security. He also explained how it ties in with the Secretary General's global strategy, and how the two initiatives could complement each other. He also expressed Club de Madrids support to the work of the United Nations, and to the recommendations made by the High-Level Panel.
To a question posed to Mr. Neumann on what had prompted a change, in that countries were now willing to agree on a definition of terrorism, he responded that after 30 years of endless debate, there is now an uncontroversial approach regarding the definition. He also mentioned that the Club of Madrid is pushing for reaching a consensus and trying to support the High-Level Panel in that regard.
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