7 May 2003
'We Must Not Fall into Complacency' in Fight Against Terrorism, Prime Minister of Spain Tells Security Council
Council Considers Measures to Combat Terrorism in Discussion Featuring Spain as Chair of Counter-Terrorism Committee
NEW YORK, 6 May (UN Headquarters) -- "Terrorism has never been, and will never be, a solution. It is the problem", Spain's Prime Minister, José María Aznar, told the Security Council this afternoon as it considered terrorist acts as a threat to international peace and security.
He said his country had taken on the chairmanship of the Counter-Terrorism Committee on 4 April, with feelings of fulfilling its share of co-responsibility in the common cause against terrorism, and of solidarity with the men, women and countries which were victims of terrorism. During the past year and a half, under the effective chairmanship of the United Kingdom, the Committee had done an excellent job. "We must not, however, fall into complacency", he said. Terrorism was a threat against civilization and against democracy, taking shape as the "new totalitarianism" of the twenty-first century. It was also a threat against international peace and security.
In recent years, there had been shifting paradigms in the defining of a new international order. A clash of civilizations was not being faced, but rather the clash of a new barbarity against civilization, Mr. Aznar said. Giving credit to the existence of an inexorable antagonism between civilizations, religions or cultures amounted to falling into the trap of dialectics set by the terrorists -- "practitioners of monologue and the enemies of dialogue". Terrorism was a menacing but not invincible evil, constituting both an ethical and a strategic challenge. The response to the first challenge required the development of a democratic culture of opposition to terrorism. The strategic challenge required articulation of more ambitious collective responses.
Among measures to strengthen the Counter-Terrorism Committee in order to meet the strategic challenge, he suggested enhancing the Committee's means and capacities for supervision and facilitating assistance to countries; cooperation with the disarmament agencies, especially those dealing with weapons of mass destruction; drawing up of a general list of terrorist organizations; and incorporating counter-terrorism assistance into international, bilateral and multilateral cooperation. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Group of Eight industrialized countries (G-8) were called upon to play a particularly relevant role in that regard.
There should be procedures to prevent terrorist groups from using the United Nations system as a platform to convey their violent message, Mr. Aznar continued, and victims of terrorism must be allowed to speak out and bear witness within the framework of the United Nations. It was imperative to reactivate the Middle East peace process, with the help of the "road map". Moreover, the social factors that were manipulated by terrorist organizations as excuses must also be influenced. Finally, initiatives should be taken to foster dialogue between civilizations, religions and cultures.
The representative of the United Kingdom, the preceding chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, stressed that individual States could not deal with terrorism on their own. The Committee's work was to set up a global coalition based on 100 per cent comprehensive action against terrorists, and the United Nations was uniquely placed to facilitate that kind of global approach. The Council must quickly step up assistance in the fight against terrorism, identifying the needs of States and matching those with donors, and the Committee must take action regarding States falling behind in implementation of the resolution. The time was approaching to more systematically organize visits of Committee experts to Member States that would benefit.
He cautioned, however, about drawing up a list of global terrorist organizations. That would be possible only when the General Assembly had provided the full definition of what terrorism was.
Speaking in his national capacity, the Council's President, Munir Akram (Pakistan), stressed that the campaign against terrorism should take into account the need to address the underlying causes of terrorism, in order to prevent the emergence of terrorists, for which economic and political justice was essential. It was also necessary to ensure that counter-terrorism measures did not mutate into measures used to cloak or justify human rights violations. He emphasized that the right of self-determination, where recognized by the international community, was not delegitimized through association with terrorists, as to do so would be to sanction the strangulation of the very freedoms being defended.
The United States' representative said that last year alone the Department of State had counted 199 significant terrorist incidents across the globe. However, spurred by resolution 1373, Member States had accelerated their accession to the 12 United Nations Conventions and Protocols on counter-terrorism, propagating the legal norms necessary to deter and to prosecute terrorists across the globe. He noted that in September 2001, only two States were party to all 12 Conventions. Today, the number stood at 31, with another 36 States "closing in" on the target. Clearly, with resolution 1373 (2001), "the Council got something right", he said.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Mexico, France, Germany, Guinea, Russian Federation, Syria, Bulgaria, China, Cameroon and Chile. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, attended the meeting, as well.
The meeting, which began at 4:40 p.m., was suspended at the end for five minutes in order for the Council's President to escort Spain's Prime Minister from the Council Chamber. It was then adjourned at 6:10 p.m.
The Security Council met this afternoon to consider threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, at which it was expected to hear from Prime Minister José María Aznar of Spain, whose delegation now chairs the Council's Counter-Terrorism Committee.
The Council established the Counter-Terrorism Committee to monitor resolution 1373 (2001), which called on Member States to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism, refrain from providing any support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts, and deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support and commit such acts. Reports from States on actions they had taken to that end would contribute to monitoring implementation of that text.
Statement by Prime Minister of Spain
JOSÉ MARÍA AZNAR, Prime Minister of Spain, said on 4 April his country took on the chairmanship of the Counter-Terrorism Committee with feelings of fulfilling its share of co-responsibility in the common cause against terrorism, and of solidarity with the men, women and countries which were victims of terrorism. The Committee was set up by resolution 1373 (2001), passed 17 days after the 11 September attacks. Appalled by the eruption of horror, the Council had showed itself equal to the circumstances, adopting one of the most far-reaching texts in its history.
He said that during the past year and a half, under the effective chairmanship of the United Kingdom, the Committee had done an excellent job. "We must not, however, fall into complacency", he said, and 11 September should not sink into oblivion, as if it had been a bad dream. The nature and magnitude of terrorism's threat had been obvious long before 11 September. Terrorism was a threat against civilization and against democracy, taking shape as the "new totalitarianism" of the twenty-first century. It was also a threat against international peace and security.
In recent years, there had been shifting paradigms in the defining of a new international order, he said. The world was not facing a clash of civilizations, but rather the clash of a new barbarity against civilization. Giving credit to the existence of an inexorable antagonism between civilizations, religions or cultures amounted to falling into the trap of dialectics set by the terrorists -- "practitioners of monologue and the enemies of dialogue". Terrorism was transnational. It was a menacing but not invincible evil, constituting both an ethical and a strategic challenge. The response to the first challenge required the development of a democratic culture of opposition to terrorism. The strategic challenge required articulation of more ambitious collective responses.
He said that in order to meet that challenge, the Counter Terrorism Committee must be enhanced with means and capacities for supervision and facilitating assistance to countries, as well as for coordination with other international and regional organizations. Cooperation with the disarmament agencies, especially those dealing with weapons of mass destruction, must be a priority. Drawing up of a general list of terrorist organizations should be considered. It was also essential to reinforce the mechanisms aimed at curbing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the availability of such weapons to terrorist groups. A policy of firmness should be maintained, with zero tolerance for terrorism as a priority in any code of conduct promulgated by the international community.
Further, he said counter-terrorism assistance should be regularly incorporated into international, bilateral and multilateral cooperation. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Group of Eight industrialized countries (G-8) were called upon to play a particularly relevant role in that regard. There should be procedures to prevent terrorist groups from using the United Nations system as a platform in order to convey their violent message. Victims of terrorism must be allowed to speak out and bear witness within the framework of the United Nations.
Terrorists should be deprived of any trace of legitimacy, and the pretexts they use must be uncovered, he continued. It was imperative to reactivate the Middle East peace process, with the help of the "road map". Moreover, the social factors that were manipulated by terrorist organization as excuses must also be influenced. Finally, initiatives should be taken to foster dialogue between civilizations, religions and cultures.
The fight against terrorism was based on his country's firm will to defend the rights and freedoms of all citizens, to uphold the supremacy of law, and to strengthen solidarity towards States committed to that common objective. "We must keep our societies and the relations between peoples free from mistrust, fear and threat that terrorism wishes to disseminate", the Prime Minister said. "Terrorism has never been, and will never be, a solution. It is the problem." Its defeat required generous efforts, active collaborations and involvement by all, whether or not one had been harmed by the scourge.
Statements by Council Members
JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) said terrorism constituted a "clear and present danger" to the ability of the world's people to live in peace and security. Each member of the Security Council had recognized that truth and had said so repeatedly. As long as terrorists were permitted to thrive, no land was safe and no border was secure. In recent months, terrorist strikes in Indonesia, Russia, Kenya and Colombia had attacked innocent victims from a multitude of nationalities. Last year alone, the United State Department of State counted 199 significant terrorist incidents across the globe.
He said that in New York City the United Nations members lived and worked each day in the shadow of 11 September 2001. The Council had been charged with a heavy responsibility, and it was responding. Its scorecard in confronting terrorism was an example of how the Council could fulfil its duty to strengthen peace and security. Resolution 1373 (2001), adopted in the immediate wake of "9/11", was generating a worldwide juridical transformation. Spurred by that resolution, Member States had accelerated their accession to the 12 United Nations Conventions and Protocols on counter-terrorism, propagating the legal norms necessary to deter and to prosecute terrorists across the globe.
The numbers were impressive, he continued. In September 2001, only two States were party to all 12 Conventions. Today, the number stood at 31, including six members of the Council, and another 36 States were "closing in" on the target. In the judicial universe, where change was slow, that was a radical shift. Clearly, with resolution 1373 (2001), "the Council got something right". The Counter-Terrorism Committee maintained a continual dialogue with Member States, which helped identify gaps in counter-terrorism capacity. Where outside assistance was needed, that Committee was helping States find it.
He said the Council was fostering a global counter-terrorism network, which included scores of international institutions and regional and subregional organizations. Those were moving to reinforce the Council's message that there was no tolerance for terrorism in the twenty-first century. The Council had taken the fight to Al Qaeda and the Taliban and, through the "1267 Committee", was quietly and effectively working to block terrorist finances. Its work had led to a worldwide freeze of $134 million, of which $98 million had been frozen outside United States' border. The "1267" list currently comprised 335 individuals or entities, and 41 countries had submitted reports to the "1455 Monitoring Group", which reinforced the mandate of 1267.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) stressed that individual States could not deal with terrorism on their own. The Counter Terrorism Committee's work was to set up a global coalition based on 100 per cent comprehensive action against terrorists, and the United Nations was uniquely placed to facilitate that kind of global approach. His country would sustain its commitment to support the Committee and eradicate terrorism.
The Council, he continued, must quickly step up assistance in the fight against terrorism, identifying the needs of States, and matching those with donors. It was vital to change the reality on the ground in each Member that needed to raise the bar in combating terrorism, and the Committee must now take action with States falling behind in implementation. An increasingly experienced Counter-Terrorism Committee must bring its concerns to the Council, and that body must be prepared to respond. The time was approaching to more systematically organize visits of Committee experts to Member States that would benefit.
He cautioned about drawing up a list of global terrorist organizations. That would be possible only when the General Assembly had provided the full definition of what terrorism was.
ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said today it was evident that there was an urgent need to strengthen the efforts of the international community to combat the scourge of terrorism. The excellent relations between Mexico and Spain had also been extended to cooperation in combating terrorism. Information was exchanged on a daily basis. Treaties on extradition and judicial assistance between Mexico and Spain were the basis of that cooperation, and bilateral cooperation was carried out in tandem with collective efforts of the international community. That process was sustained in a series of treaties and instruments, of which the most useful was the Counter-Terrorism Committee.
He reaffirmed the priority role of the United Nations as the forum for carrying out actions to meet global challenges. Efforts in combating terrorism would be more effective if the will of States was expressed in the sphere of multilateralism, as opposed to the unilateral use of force. The worst aftermath terrorism could leave behind was the destruction of the international order. There was, therefore, a need to protect human rights in combating terrorism. During the ministerial meeting of 20 January, the Council had adopted resolution 1456 (2003) in which States had been required to combat terrorism with full respect for human rights.
Terrorism did not recognize values, did not respect life and did not believe in dialogue. It was the responsibility of all to combat it together, he said.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) said the European Union members had unified their efforts, particularly since "9/11", to strengthen specific measures to more effectively counter terrorism. Examples included the accelerated establishment of a European "legal space" and a European police force, as well as elaborating a common definition of what constituted terrorism, and enhanced measures to prevent its financing. Combating the scourge of terrorism required the active cooperation of all in the international community, on an ongoing basis. Beyond resolution 1373 (2001), the Council had a key role to play in that regard, especially in rendering the necessary technical assistance, to help States strengthen their national mechanisms in the struggle against terrorism.
In that regard, he recalled that France had proposed the establishment, within the United Nations, of a fund for such cooperation and assistance, closely linked with the international financial institutions. Efforts should also more effectively consider the link between terrorism and other global threats, particularly the threat of the proliferation of mass destruction weapons. France had announced on 20 January that it would make specific proposals to strengthen the monitoring of the use and transfer of radioactive sources. The Council had begun to deal with those dangerous links, which threatened international peace and security, but its efforts should be enhanced. In so doing, it should not exclude other international institutions and agencies that were expert in that area.
France also attached primary importance to ensuring that the 12 existing international instruments, aimed at countering various terrorist acts, were promptly ratified by all States, as called for by Security Council resolution 1373 (2001). He recalled the recent suggestion to request the Counter-terrorism Committee to brief the Council on the problems it was seeing frequently concerning States' implementation of resolution 1373 (2001), through the submission of their national reports. The Council should engage in an in-depth discussion of those aspects and their implications.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said it was essential to fight and weaken existing terrorist structures, diligently applying the whole gamut of diplomatic, intelligence, police, judicial and even military measures. In addition, it was important to prevent people from becoming terrorists, to win the battle for their hearts and minds. Therefore, crisis prevention, conflict resolution and dialogue among civilizations were equally high on the anti-terrorism agenda.
The fight against international terrorism required international cooperation, he continued, and the international coalition against terrorism must be preserved and stabilized. Cooperation must be deepened, and assistance to States increased through the United Nations and its Counter-Terrorism Committee. The fight must always be legitimized under international law, and it must also respect national and international law, human rights and the United Nations Charter. Human rights, in particular, should not be suspended under the pretext of combating terrorism. The fight was not only about defending security, but also about the fundamental values of freedom, democracy and human rights.
BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said the suggestions made by Spain's Prime Minister deserved the Council's full attention. The new nature of the scourge called for further measures, reflected in the adoption of a number of resolutions in the Council, as well as by initiatives taken by several other actors such as regional organizations. He encouraged the Counter-terrorism Committee to continue its activities in the same vein.
The struggle against terrorism was a long-term endeavour, calling for cooperation between all members of the international community. He reiterated his call for assistance in that regard, and called on donors to better coordinate their efforts within the Committee. His country would continue to contribute to the international community's efforts to dealt with and ultimately eliminate the scourge.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said time had proven the validity of the strategy of building a global system to counter terrorism, under the United Nations' auspices. There was an expanding coalition of States committed to that, and today that threat was being countered by a qualitatively new international effort. The Council had played a primary role in protecting the international community from terrorism, including through the establishment, in the wake of the tragic events of 11 September 2001, of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, which had remained the key pillar in the anti-terrorism architecture.
He noted that a majority of countries were actively enhancing their anti-terrorism legislation, and the number of them acceding to the relevant conventions had grown to 150. Indeed, terrorists were having a difficult time finding safe havens. Mobilizing regional organizations had been another important element in the creation of a new structure. Regular interaction with regional organizations was crucial, in order that the Counter-Terrorism Committee might rely increasingly on the growing practical engagement of those organizations to address specific counter-terrorist tasks.
Ending terrorism included addressing, among other things, the transboundary nature of drug trafficking and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said. Such a holistic approach had been advanced by the adoption by the General Assembly of the Russian initiative, in the form of a response to such global threats and challenges. Regarding the legal basis for countering terrorism, he had been disappointed at the stalled work on drafts for a nuclear terrorism convention, owing to political, and not legal, causes. Such stagnation only played into the hands of terrorists.
MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including State terrorism, and stressed his support for Spain in its leadership of the Counter-Terrorism Committee. His country would make all possible efforts to guarantee Spain's success in guiding that body. Syria urgently needed the support of the Council and the Committee to end the occupation of its lands, which was the most heinous form of terrorism. The Council's work in fighting true terrorism was the best guarantee that the world could eliminate terrorism in all its forms.
Syria was one of the first countries to present its report to Counter-Terrorism Committee, he continued. He hoped Member States could work together in the Council or the General Assembly to arrive at an understanding and definition of the concept of terrorism; understand and discuss its root causes; and address them through international cooperation. Syria had submitted a draft resolution to the Council in an effort to declare a weapon of mass-destruction free zone in the Middle East, with a special paragraph aimed at preventing terrorists from gaining access to such weapons.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said the Prime Minister's participation in the work of the Council was important proof of Spain's central role, not only within Europe but also worldwide in efforts to combat terrorism. He aligned himself with his suggestions. There was no doubt that under Spain's leadership of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, the legislative process in United Nations Member States would be sped up and that there would be the broadest participation of States in the 12 anti-terrorism Conventions.
The meeting of 6 March between the Counter-Terrorism Committee and regional organizations had proven the immense potential of those organizations, he said. At all levels, there was a priority need to keep terrorist groups from acquiring weapons. The meeting on 15 May of the Committee with representatives of disarmament organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should offer an opportunity to draft ways of cooperation between the Counter-Terrorism Committee and those agencies.
He stressed that in combating terrorism, international law must be respected. Otherwise the terrorists would win the battle, he said. Terrorism did not know civilization, religion or nationality, political or ethnic membership. It was a terrible scourge which must be fought.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said terrorism was a threat to all mankind, wherever and however it occurred. Since its inception, the Counter-Terrorism Committee had played an important role in facilitating national implementation of resolution 1373 (2001), especially in the areas of strengthening counter-terrorism legislation, institution building, and promoting international cooperation. The Prime Minister of China had put forward specific proposals, which he was ready to discuss with the parties. Under the chairmanship of Spain, the Counter-Terrorism Committee would continue to register progress in its work.
He said the key to further deepening achievements in the international struggle against terrorism depended on the gradual adoption of a number of steps, including strengthening international cooperation, eliminating capacities to finance terrorism, actively promoting solutions to regional "hot spots", and promoting dialogue among civilizations. Also required was curbing the proliferation of mass destruction weapons. The United Nations should meet that challenge and play a pivotal role in the international struggle against terrorism, he stressed.
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said the presence of the Spanish Prime Minister reinforced the political support that Foreign Ministers had given last January to the international coalition against terrorism and reaffirmed the central role the United Nations played in fighting it. Spain, he added, had long experience in combating terrorism and had never succumbed to it.
The world's common security, he continued, would not be assured unless all worked together in a determined fight against the authors of terrorist acts. Established links between terrorism and transnational organized crime called for vigilance and a global response. That response must employ national strategies, increased international cooperation for the exchange of information, and concerted action. Strong international law was needed to combat the scourge, using accepted norms and quickly adopting the general convention against terrorism, as well as the convention against acts of nuclear terrorism. Noting that technological gaps between nations benefited terrorist groups, it was vital that an international assistance programme was put in place for those States in need.
GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) said the painful struggle against terrorism carried out by Spain within its own borders had given that country the greatest legitimacy to provide leadership to the Counter-Terrorism Committee. The worldwide terrorist threat had no specific target, but crossed borders with a hateful message against all civilization and attacked the very nature of humankind.
Welcoming the practical suggestions of Prime Minister Aznar, he said coordinated action by the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 was the basis for success of United Nations efforts. Those Committees must be increasingly linked and coordinated. Over the past month, the level of cooperation had been further improved, avoiding duplication of work. Both Committees must involve the entire membership of the United Nations in efforts to block funds for terrorist activities, to prevent the transit of terrorists and to prevent the flow of weapons to them.
He thanked States for adopting new legislation with guidelines from the Counter-Terrorism Committee. The work of both Committees as well as the cooperation of all members of the international community were proof of the central role of the Organization in combating terrorism, he said.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), speaking in his national capacity, said that, for more than 20 years, Pakistan, like Spain, had been a principal victim of terrorism. It condemned terrorism in all its forms, including State terrorism. Since September 2001, it had been at the forefront of the campaign against terrorism and had made many sacrifices in that struggle. The Security Council had a central role to play in that campaign, and he supported strengthening that role.
All of the Prime Minister's recommendations deserved careful consideration. Nevertheless, the principal role of the Counter-Terrorism Committee was to help States to combat terrorism.
That campaign, he said, should also take into account the need to address the underlying causes of terrorism to prevent the emergence of terrorists. In that regard, economic and political justice was essential. It was also necessary to ensure that counter- terrorism measures did not mutate into measures used to cloak or justify human rights violations, and that the right of self-determination, where recognized by the international community, was not de-legitimized through association with terrorists. The promotion of tolerance and mutual understanding was also essential to defeating the hate and anger on which terrorism thrived.
He said his country had proposed a declaration on mutual tolerance and understanding among civilizations, which he hoped the General Assembly would soon adopt. He recalled that the Secretary-General had stated on 11 September 2001 that if the world could show it would persevere in creating a more benevolent international community across all lines of religion and race, then terrorism would have failed. Spain was well-qualified to guarantee that effort. It was in Spain where religions came together to create the flowering of freedom and tolerance, to which everyone must continue to aspire.
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