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Measures to eliminate international terrorism: Statement by India's
Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Following is the statement by Kamalesh Sharma, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, in the Sixth Committee (Legal) on November 16, 1999

Mr. Chairman,

India attaches the highest importance to the present agenda item relating to ‘Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism’ and has been consistently raising this issue at the United Nations and other international forums for the last several years.

Mr. Chairman, as the External Affairs Minister of my country had emphasised in the General Assembly, terrorism is the great global menace of our age, it is the very anti-thesis of all that the United Nations represents and stands for, and violates the basic precepts of democracy and civilized living. It also constitutes a grave threat to international peace and security, particularly when terrorists are armed, financed and backed by Governments or their agencies, and benefit from the protection of State power. It brings in its wake other attendant global ills such as narco-trafficking, crime and money-laundering which threaten a healthy social and political evolution of the global society. For well over a decade, my country has been subjected to a sustained campaign of cross-border terrorism, sponsored from across our borders, which has taken the lives of thousands of our citizens, and ruined those of countless others. We have sent a detailed response to the Secretary General’s request for information on the implementation of the Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism; this has been included in his Report on this agenda item contained in document A/54/301.

India is a party to all the multilateral conventions on international terrorism. In addition to the information contained in the Secretary General’s Report, India has ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, 1997 on 22nd September ‘99. India has also acceded to the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation, and its Protocol on Fixed Platforms, and to the International Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection.

Mr. Chairman, during the general debate this year, the need for international cooperation to combat, limit and eliminate terrorism was emphasised by several Heads of State and Foreign Ministers, who referred to it as the scourge of mankind. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the five permanent members of the Security Council, in their statement of 23 September ‘99, also recognised the threat posed by terrorism to the lives and well-being of ordinary peoples worldwide and to the peace and security of all States, and called on all States to strengthen international cooperation, under United Nations aegis, to fight terrorism in all its forms, including denial of safe havens and to prevent and suppress in their territories the preparation and financing of any acts of terrorism.

The Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism, adopted by General Assembly resolution 49/60 in 1994, was the first significant step taken by the United Nations in the fight against terrorism. It was the first comprehensive standard-setting instrument at the international level which unequivocally condemned terrorism and declared that all States must recognise that acts of terrorism are simply criminal and cannot be justified under any circumstances and for whatever consideration. It obliged States to refrain from organising, instigating, assisting or participating in terrorist acts in the territory of other States, and acquiescing in or encouraging, within their territory, activities directed towards the commission of such acts. States must ensure that their territories are not used for terrorist installations or training camps or for the preparation or organisation of terrorist acts intended to be committed against other States or their citizens.

The Declaration made clear that no considerations of political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature can justify an act of terrorism. Unfortunately, the Declaration is flouted by some States which continue to sponsor, finance and provide arms to terrorists. It is necessary to implement the Declaration sincerely and to operationalise the standards it has set effectively.

The General Assembly, at its 51st session, decided to establish an Ad hoc Committee on terrorism, with the mandate to elaborate, first, a Convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings, then a Convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism and, finally, a comprehensive legal framework on international terrorism. We supported this approach as representing a package whose ultimate aim was to ensure a comprehensive convention against international terrorism. We also supported the proposal made by France at the 53rd session on a draft convention for suppression of terrorist financing, on the understanding that the next item to be taken up by the Ad hoc Committee would be India’s proposal for a comprehensive international convention.

Mr. Chairman, the first step in this sequence was completed with the adoption of the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings by the General Assembly on 15 December 97.

As the second step, last year the Ad hoc Committee and the Working Group of the Sixth Committee reached agreement on most of the provisions of the draft Convention against Nuclear Terrorism on the basis of a draft text proposed by the Russian Federation. We strongly favour the adoption of the Convention and urge early resolution of the outstanding issues in a spirit of accommodation and in the overall interest of realizing the ultimate goal of elimination of terrorism.

On the third step, the French text for a Convention for Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, the Ad hoc Committee on Terrorism made significant progress in its meetings in March, and the Working Group of the Sixth Committee finalized the text last month. We wanted the Convention to be wider in scope and to contain more direct provisions to prevent and suppress, at the very earliest stage, financing of all acts of preparations to commit terrorist acts. However, we welcome the Convention as another step forward and support the recommendation of the Working Group that the Sixth Committee approve the draft and submit it to the General Assembly for adoption.

Clearly, Mr. Chairman, what remains is to complete the package, or take the final step. And, indeed, this is what our leaders clearly want. Almost all recent meetings of major groupings of States, whether at the level of Heads of State or Government, or of Foreign Ministers, have not only identified the phenomenon of terrorism as the primary global menace, they have also either committed themselves to, or called for, the strengthening of the international legal framework to counter and contain it. For instance, as a selective listing:

  • The XII Nonaligned Summit, held in Durban last year, "called for the urgent conclusion and the effective implementation of a comprehensive international convention for combating terrorism" (A/53/667). The Ministerial Meeting of the Nonaligned, held in New York in September this year, reiterated this call (A/54/469).

  • The Heads of State and Government of the member States of the Organisation of African Unity, meeting in July this year, adopted the Algiers Declaration which called for effective and efficient international cooperation to combat terrorism "through a speedy conclusion of a Global International Convention for the Prevention and Control of Terrorism in all its forms and the convening of an International Summit Conference under the auspices of the UN to consider this phenomenon and the means to combat it" (A/54/424).

  • The first Summit of the Heads of State and Government of Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Union, held in Rio de Janeiro in June this year, adopted a set of "Priorities for Action", among which they committed themselves to "intensify international cooperation to combat terrorism, based on the principles established in the framework of the United Nations Organisation", and "to advance in the signing and ratification of the conventions and protocols of the UN and to strengthen the international legal framework on the subject, supporting the elaboration of instruments to fight terrorism" (A/54/448).

  • The Foreign Ministers of the Commonwealth of Independent States, meeting in Yalta in October this year, issued a statement which called for "compliance with international conventions against terrorism and the continuation of work to strengthen the international legal system for combating terrorism" (A/54/519).

Strengthened by this global consensus, Mr. Chairman, and in accordance with the step by step approach towards drawing up a comprehensive framework of legal instruments to combat international terrorism, we must now proceed to the third step of Resolution 51/210, namely, the elaboration of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. This General Assembly must give a mandate for negotiations to begin. India has already submitted a draft text, circulated as document A/C.6/51/6. At the last General Assembly session in 1998, a revised draft had been circulated informally to delegations for their views. We look forward to working with all delegations and will present a revised text, taking their views into account, which we hope would be able to form a basis for reaching consensus.






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