Terrorism Update
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Statement on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism
by the Representative of Sri Lanka to the Ad Hoc Committee

Mr. Chairman,
I wish to associate my delegation with the sentiments that have been expressed by others on your election to the Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism. We do appreciate the responsibilities that ate cast upon you and confident that you will discharge your responsibilities in a manner that is acceptable to all delegations. Felicitations of my delegation are also extended to other Members of the Bureau who were unanimously elected.

Sri Lanka attaches the highest importance to the work of the Ad Hoc Committee. My delegation has been closely involved with the work of this Committee since its inception. It is a matter of particular gratification for us to see the adoption by the UNGA of two important Conventions negotiated in this Committee, namely the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the International Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism, within a short span of three years. In this connection, we wish to place on record our sincere appreciation of the work undertaken by the previous Chairman, Ambassador Philippe Kirsche of Canada.

For Sri Lankans, international cooperative efforts to combat terrorism are not an academic issue. In recent times we have faced the unparalleled carnage of terror that has been unleashed on innocent men, women and children by a ruthless terrorist group operating within and outside Sri Lanka. This group operates with impunity in a number of foreign countries, behind the fašade of a plethora of political, religious, cultural and even humanitarian organizations, collecting funds ostensibly for legitimate purposes. But the reality is that, these funds are channeled for purchase of weapons, ammunition and high explosives to sustain their campaign of terror. Sri Lanka is not the only country faced with such a dilemma. There are many others. Only a concerted and collective effort by the international community could effectively combat the activities of such groups.

Focussing on the issue, the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Hon. Lakshman kadirgamar in his address to the recently concluded 54th Session of the United Nations General Assembly states that:

Among the new problems of unparalleled menace and danger that have emerged toward the close of the present century are heightened terrorist activities in many countries and ever proliferating criminal activities in the areas of narcotics, human trafficking and arms smuggling. I have on each occasion that I have come to this podium argued that terrorism must be tackled collectively if it is to be tackled effectively at all.

He further stated that:

Those who resort to terror in pursuit of their political objectives must never be permitted or encouraged to believe that unremitting terror will ultimately bring its reward in recognition and results. On the contrary, it is only the recognition that a campaign of terror will put its exponents beyond the pale of civilised discourse that will persuade terrorists to seek other ways of gaining a hearing.

This is the rationale for our support for all international efforts in promoting cooperation amongst States in combating the evil menace of international terrorism. We are particularly gratified by the recent adoption of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, which was opened for signature on 10 January 2000. In demonstration of its support, Sri Lanka signed the Convention on the very first day it was opened for signature. At present, Sri Lanka is in the process of preparing enabling legislation to pave the way for our ratification of the Convention. We wish to extend once again our appreciation to the Government of France for its timely initiative. It is our hope that the Convention will come into force as speedily as possible, beginning a new era of international cooperation.

Mr. Chairman,
Looking ahead, we have before us several responsibilities. Completion of the work on the draft International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, is one such task. The Ad Hoc Committee has devoted much time and effort on this Convention which is almost complete, with one outstanding issue to be finalised. We should, therefore, focus on this draft Convention once again and give it the necessary momentum to reach a finality. We do appreciate the fact that some delegations have certain concerns. However, we are confident that given the spirit of accommodation and compromise which we share in this forum, achieving of a consensus on this draft Convention will be possible. My delegation will continue to extend its cooperation to you in your efforts toward reaching such a consensus. I wish to thank the Coordinator of Australia for her contribution in this direction.

The Ad Hoc Committee has also been entrusted with the task of addressing the question of convening a high level conference under the auspices of the United Nations to formulate a joint organised response of the international community to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. This would require us to address in particular the outcome that we seek to achieve from this initiative. We believe that our overall objective should be to ensure that the proposed conference results in the working out of concrete practical measures of cooperation that will help the international community in making an effective and meaningful response for combating the phenomenon of terrorism which threatens the very fabric of our societies.

In the course of this year, we also have to deal with the proposal for the elaboration of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. This work will commence during the 55th Session of the General Assembly, within the framework of a Working Group of the Sixth Committee. We are thankful to the Government of India for its proposal and Sri Lanka looks forward to working together on the draft Convention during the forthcoming Session of the General Assembly.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I wish to assure you and the members of the Bureau that, as in the past, the delegation of Sri Lanka will actively participate in the work of the Ad Hoc Committee and the Working Group of the Sixth Committee.





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