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20 July 2005

United States Urges Completion of Terrorism Convention

U.N. Security Council reviews counterterrorism efforts

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The United Nations can do more to fight terrorism, especially by completing negotiations on the long-stalled terrorism convention, the United States told the U.N. Security Council July 20.

Nicholas Rostow, general counsel to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said that even with major efforts to strengthen international cooperation in fighting terrorism under way, several major tasks remain, including making counterterrorism a top priority and outlawing terrorism through an international treaty.

The terrorism convention in question would outlaw terrorism in all circumstances.

"Everyone in this room knows that making counterterrorism the top priority is an unpleasant necessity," Rostow said.  "But they know it is a necessity."

Rostow acknowledged some resistance to the terrorism convention, and said that nations have to decide if they are going "to take seriously" the call to put an end to terrorism.

"Are they going to 'drain the swamp' in which terrorists swim by arresting and prosecuting anyone who commits a terrorist act or supports it?" he asked.  "Or are they going to weaken the counter-terrorist front because of some real or imagined potential to create a policy inconsistent with regard to other national priorities?"

Informal talks on the terrorism convention are scheduled to resume the week of July 25.  Proponents hope that the final text of the convention will be ready when the United Nations commemorates its 60th anniversary and the U.N. General Assembly begins in mid-September.  Many nations are also pressing for strong language in the anniversary declaration condemning terrorism.

The talks, Rostow said, "provide all U.N. members with an opportunity once and for all to turn their collective back on terrorism."

RECENT BOMBINGS UNDERSCORE ISSUE’S URGENCY

United Kingdom Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said that recent events in London, Turkey and across the Middle East "must only serve to strengthen our resolve and intensify our counterterrorism efforts.  Substantial progress has been made over recent years, but we cannot let up."

The council concluded its daylong session by adopting a presidential statement reaffirming that "terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to peace and security and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomever committed."

The Security Council met to review the work of its three counterterrorism committees.  The so-called counterterrorism committee, set up under Resolution 1373 in 2001, is working with U.N. member states to help them put counterterrorism laws and law enforcement operations into effect and provide technical assistance to those lacking the capacity to do so.

The al-Qaida and Taliban committee, established under Resolution 1267 in 1999, requires U.N. member states to freeze the assets and ban the travel of al-Qaida and Taliban members placed on a U.N. watch list.  The committee's work has led to the freezing or seizure of more than $100 million that might have been available to members of the two terrorist groups.

In 2004, Resolution 1540 established the third Security Council committee, which is working with U.N. member states to enact laws and set up operations to stop the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

Romanian Ambassador Mihnea Motoc, chairman of the 1540 committee, said that the three committees are "laying down the broad outline of a universal shield against terrorism."

"Recent events remind us that terrorism is alive and no one is shielded from its ugly specter," Motoc said.  "Now more than ever we have to make sure that it is denied access to WMD's (weapons of mass destruction) or related materials."

"The fact that terrorists seem to interact increasingly among themselves is a solid, additional reason for us to increasingly join our forces and pool together resources that supporters of freedom and safety for everyone are able to muster," he said.

Rostow's statement can be found on the Web site of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.