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Address of the Prime Minister of India to The 53rd UN General Assembly

In the millenium summit of the United Nations held between September 5-8, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, spoke about the scrouge of terrorism affecting various countries. He also focussed on the problems faced by India due to terrorism. We reproduce extracts of his address. For the full text of the address click here.

Mr. President,

May I congratulate you on your election to the Presidency of the 53rd UN General Assembly? We wish you well in our shared endeavors in the United Nations and offer you our full cooperation. We would like to thank your predecessor for his engagement and contribution and to compliment him for the work throughout the last year.


It will be a great day when democracy becomes the universal norm, and when the UN reflects this democracy in its institutions and functioning. However, open democratic societies have one scourge to contend with - terrorism. The challenge before countries like mine and other democracies is to maintain our openness, safeguard individual rights, and, at the same time, give no quarter to terrorists. Several speakers before me have recounted the terrible toll, worldwide, that terrorists have exacted, taking advantage of he trust that characterizes open societies. I recall that the G-7 Summit almost two decades back had identified terrorism as one of the most serious threats to civilised societies. Events since then including the blowing up of Air India Kanishka, the Pan Am Airlines over Lockerbie, to the recent bombings in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam - have only established the correctness of that judgment.

Mr. President, terrorism is one threat that affects us all equally. Terrorism takes a daily toll across the world. It is the most vicious among international crimes, the, most pervasive, pernicious and ruthless threat to the lives of men and women in open societies, and to international peace and security. In India, we have had to cope with terrorism, aided and abetted by a neighboring country, for nearly two decades. We have borne this with patience, but none should doubt the strength of our resolve to crush this challenge, its tentacles have spread across the world, Today, it has linkages with illicit trade in drugs, arms and money laundering. In short, terrorism has gone global and it can only be defeated by organized international action.

Let us make up our minds once and for all - terrorism is a crime against humanity. Unilateral steps can hardly stand scrutiny in an open society, let alone in the eyes of the international community. It should be the primary task of all open and plural societies to develop collective means for tackling this menace. At the summit meeting in Durban, the Non-Aligned Movement has called for an international conference in 1999 to develop such a collective response. We urge that the 1999 conference launch the process of negotiations for an international convention to provide for collective action against States and organizations which initiate or aid and abet terrorism.


Thank you, Mr. President.





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