Report of the Policy Working Group on
the United Nations and Terrorism, August 6, 2002
A Policy Working Group of the
United Nations on Terrorism constituted by the Secretary-General
Kofi Annan in October 2001 submitted its report on August 6, 2002.
The Group suggested, among others, a direct role for the world
body in counter-terrorism and priority areas for the purpose.
Following is the full text of the report:
6 August 2002
Identical letters dated 1 August
2002 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the General
Assembly and President of the Security Council
I have the honour to transmit to you
the report prepared by the Policy Working Group on the United Nations
and Terrorism, a group which I established in October 2001 to identify
the implications and broad policy dimensions of terrorism for the United
Nations and to formulate recommendations to me.
The Policy Working Group's report aims
to prioritize the Organization's activities regarding terrorism, and
includes a set of specific recommendations on how the United Nations
system might function more coherently and effectively in this very complex
field. I am currently considering the Group's recommendations.
I should be grateful if the present
letter and report could be circulated as a document of the General Assembly
and of the Security Council.
Kofi A. Annan
Report of the Policy Working Group
on the United Nations and Terrorism
The Policy Working Group considered
that the United Nations should concentrate its direct role in counter-terrorism
on the areas in which the Organization has a comparative advantage.
In general terms, the United Nations should uphold, bolster and reassert
the leading principles and purposes of the United Nations Charier, the
core of which are undermined and threatened by terrorism. The Organization's
activities should be part of a tripartite strategy supporting global
- Dissuade disaffected groups from embracing
- Deny groups or individuals the means to carry
out acts of terrorism;
- Sustain broad-based international cooperation
in the struggle against terrorism.
In efforts at dissuasion, the
Organisation has made and ought to continue to make its contribution
through norm setting, human rights and communications. The United Nations
has a primary role in preparing for the adoption and effective implementation
of legal instruments. It should institute a periodic review of the existing
treaty regime, and must underscore the linkages between instruments
of international criminal law and counter-terrorism conventions.
At the same time, the United Nations
must ensure that the protection of human rights is conceived as an essential
concern. Terrorism often thrives where human rights are violated, which
adds to the need to strengthen action to combat violations of human
rights. Terrorism itself should also be understood as an assault on
basic rights. In all cases, the fight against terrorism must be respectful
of international human rights obligations.
In its public pronouncements, the United
Nations should project a clear and principled message, underscoring
the unacceptability of terrorism, highlighting the Organization's role
in addressing and preventing it, and ensuring that the fight against
terrorism does not obscure the core work of the United Nations. These
messages must be targeted to key audiences - particularly to achieve
a greater impact in dissuading would-be supporters of terrorist acts.
The work of the Department of Public Information and the United Nations
information centres must be enhanced to this end.
The unique mandate of the Counter-Terrorism
Committee places it at the centre of United Nations activities to deny
opportunities for the commission of acts of terrorism. The United
Nations system as a whole must ensure its readiness to support the Committee's
efforts to achieve the implementation of measures to counter terrorism.
One specific area in which United Nations agencies can provide assistance
in this process is through the development of model legislation for
Member States' compliance with international instruments and pertinent
Given concerns that terrorists may seek
access to stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction or related technologies,
United Nations activities in the Field of disarmament must gain renewed
relevance. In addition to reinforcing its work in this arena and to
enhancing its capacity to assist the Counter-Terrorism Committee, when
needed, the Department of Disarmament Affairs should draw public attention
to the threat posed by the potential use of weapons of mass destruction
in terrorist acts.
Preventive action, especially measures
to strengthen the capacity of States, can help to create inhospitable
environments for terrorism. This may be achieved through effective post-conflict
peace-building and by ensuring that peacekeeping mandates arc sensitive
to issues related to terrorism.
In order to render international efforts
to counter terrorism effective, cooperation between the United
Nations and other international actors must be made more systematic,
ensuring an appropriate division of labour based on comparative advantage.
Specifically, the next high-level meeting between the United Nations
and regional organizations in 2003 should establish terrorism as an
agenda item, with the goal of developing an international action plan.
Similarly, the United Nations family
must ensure a higher degree of internal coordination and coherence.
This effort will require periodic reviews by the Executive Committee
on Peace and Security of United Nations work on terrorism and even the
strengthening of some offices, notably the Office for Drug Control and
Crime Prevention of the United Nations Secretariat. The United Nations
System Chief Executives Board for Coordination should review system-wide
activity in order to ensure that coordination is taking place.
- The terrorist attacks on the United States of America
on 11 September 2001 caused the international community to focus on
the issue of terrorism with renewed intensity. Within the span of
a few weeks, the Security Council unanimously passed resolutions 1368
(2001) and 1373 (2001), the General Assembly adopted resolution 56/1
by consensus, and convened a special session. Each of those steps
served to underline the depth of shared international commitment to
an effective, sustained and multilateral response to the problem of
- The Policy Working Group on the United Nations and
Terrorism was established at the behest of the Secretary-General in
October 2001, within that context and to those ends. Its purpose has
been to identify the longer-term implications and broad policy dimensions
of terrorism for the United Nations and to formulate recommendations
on the steps that the United Nations system might take to address
- The Policy Working Group is chaired by Kieran Prendergast,
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, and is comprised of
the following members: Hans Corell, Under-Secretary-General for Legal
Affairs and The Legal Counsel; Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director
of the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention and Director-General
of the United Nations Office at Vienna; Nitin Desai, Under- Secretary-General
for Economic and Social Affairs; Jayantha Dhanapata, Under-Secretary-General
for Disarmament Affairs; Michael Doyle, Assistant Secretary-General
and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General; Ibrahima Fall, Assistant
Secretary-General for Political Affairs; Ibrahim Gambari, Under- Secretary-General
and Special Adviser of the Secretary-General for Special Assignments
in Africa; Edward Luck, Director, Center on International Organization
of the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University;
David Malone, President, International Peace Academy; Edward Mortimer,
Director of Communications, Executive Office of the Secretary-General;
Giandomenico Picco, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General
for the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations; Bertrand
Ramcharan, Deputy United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;
Michael Sheehan. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations;
Danilo Turk, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs; and
Brian Urquhart, former Under-Secretary-General. Mark Quarterman of
the Department of Political Affairs serves as the Secretary of the
- The Group determined that its report should place
the role of the United Nations in the struggle against terrorism in
context, prioritize the Organization's activities regarding the issue,
and contain a set of specific recommendations on how the United Nations
system might function more coherently and effectively in this very
- The Policy Working Group established subgroups to
address the following specific issues;
- International legal instruments and international
criminal justice issues;
- Human rights;
- Activities of the United Nations system;
- Weapons of mass destruction, other weapons and technology;
- Use of ideology (secular and religious) to justify
- Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Security Council;
- Media and communications;
- Non-United Nations multilateral initiatives.
The subgroups were composed of members
of the Policy Working Group, United Nations officials and outside
experts. The subgroups made every effort to include diverse perspectives
on the problem. Each subgroup prepared a detailed report. Their principal
purpose was to develop the background information and policy recommendations
that form the basis of the present report.
- The Policy Working Group established relationships
with groups both within and outside the United Nations system, including
the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the United Nations Office for Drug
Control and Crime Prevention, (he International Peace Academy and
the Center on International Organization at Columbia University. The
International Peace Academy drafted two background papers and organized
two meetings for the Group, at which academic experts provided background
information and conceptual ideas. The Center on International Organization
held four round-table discussions on various topics related to terrorism,
which were attended by academic experts, policy analysts, representatives
of Member States and United Nations staff. The Center also commissioned
eight papers on terrorism that were discussed during the round-table
meetings. Expertise of the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention
was channelled into the Group's deliberations through the participation
of its Executive Director as a member, and through the work of the
subgroups on international legal instruments and international criminal
justice issues and on activities of the United Nations system.
- In January 2002, the chair of the Group submitted
to the Secretary-General a programme for the preparation of the present
report. In March 2002, the chair submitted a note to the Secretary-General,
setting forth key recommendations for possible implementation pending
the completion of the final report. Efforts are under way to implement
many of those recommendations.
- The members of the Group realize that their work
will not end with the submission of the present report. If the Secretary-General
agrees to some or all of the attached recommendations, it will be
necessary to prepare an implementation plan with details on any additional
resources or modifications in mandates that are required. The Group
is ready to continue its efforts to sec this project through to its
- It is important to state what the Policy Working
Group did not attempt to do. Rather than taking a comprehensive approach,
the Group focused specifically on areas in which the United Nations
would have a comparative advantage and could make a fresh and tangible
contribution to the international anti- terrorism effort. The Group
has not attempted to devise a definition of terrorism, identify its
diverse roots or address specific instances of terrorist activity.
The Group does not believe that the United Nations is well placed
to play an active operational role in efforts to suppress terrorist
groups, to pre-empt specific terrorist strikes, or to develop dedicated
intelligence-gathering capacities. Rather, the Group has focused on
practical steps that the United Nations might take in the following
areas of activity; (a) dissuading disaffected groups from embracing
terrorism; (b) denying groups or individuals the means to carry out
such acts; and (c) sustaining broad-based international cooperation
in the struggle against terrorism on the basis of respect for human
rights and fundamental freedoms.
- Counter-terrorism activities are carried out through
bilateral and multilateral cooperation among national agencies devoted
to law enforcement, intelligence and security. By and large, such
measures do not require the Organization's involvement. On the other
hand, as the responses of a number of Member States to the Counter-Terrorism
Committee have indicated, there may well be places where the United
Nations system could assist in providing or organizing capacity-building
efforts related to taw enforcement, criminal justice and the implementation
of the provisions of Security Council resolution 1373 (2001).
- The Group is mindful of the multiple ways in which
terrorism challenges the core principles and mandate of the Organization,
as derived from the Charter of the United Nations. Terrorism is, and
is intended to be, an assault on the principles of law, order, human
rights and peaceful settlement of disputes on which the world body
was founded. However, despite its relatively wide use as a technique,
terrorism is not a single phenomenon, but must be understood in the
light of the context from which terrorist activities arise. It is
not a problem that primarily springs from any single ethnic or religious
group. Rather, terror has been used as a lactic in almost every corner
of the world, making no distinctions as to the wealth, gender or age
of its victims, who are largely civilians. To be sure, we have seen
in our time terrorism being used as a strategy.
- Most terrorist acts have been carried out by specific
groups with limited agendas, using small weapons, and within the boundaries
of individual States. Transnational networks of the type that perpetrated
the 11 September attacks are a relatively new phenomenon. Nevertheless,
the international implications and linkages of the more traditional
form of terrorism should not be overlooked. Over time, groups based
in one country may take on a transnational character, carrying out
attacks across one border, receiving funding from private parties
or a government across another, and procuring arms from multiple sources.
Terrorism in a single country can readily become a threat to regional
peace and security owing to spill-over effects, such as cross-border
violence and the creation of refugee populations, it is therefore
difficult to draw sharp distinctions between domestic and international
- Without attempting a comprehensive definition of
terrorism, it would be useful to delineate some broad characteristics
of the phenomenon. Terrorism is, in most cases, essentially a political
act. It is meant to inflict dramatic and deadly injury on civilians
and to create an atmosphere of fear, generally for a political or
ideological (whether secular or religious) purpose. Terrorism is a
criminal act, but it is more than mere criminality. To overcome the
problem of terrorism it is necessary to understand its political nature
as well as its basic criminality and psychology. The United Nations
needs to address both sides of this equation.
- While terrorist acts are usually perpetrated by subnational
or transnational groups, terror has also been adopted by rulers at
various times as an instrument of control. The rubric of counter-terrorism
can be used to justify acts in support of political agendas, such
as the consolidation of political power, elimination of political
opponents, inhibition of legitimate dissent and/or suppression of
resistance to military occupation. Labelling opponents or adversaries
as terrorists offers a time-tested technique to de-legitimize and
demonize them. The United rations should beware of offering, or be
perceived to be offering, a blanket or automatic endorsement of all
measures taken in the name of counter-terrorism.
- The phenomenon of terrorism is complex. This does
not, however, imply that it is impossible to adopt moral clarity regarding
attacks on civilians. Terrorism deserves universal condemnation, and
the struggle against terrorism requires intellectual and moral clarity
and a carefully differentiated implementation plan.
- Just as terrorists seek to undermine the core principles
and purposes of the United Nations, so it is through a determined
effort to bolster and reassert these guiding principles and purposes
that the world body can best contribute to the struggle against terrorism.
The lack of hope for justice provides breeding grounds for terrorism.
Where United Nations efforts to reduce lawlessness and despair in
the world succeed, terrorism will find no nourishment. The Group therefore
suggests that it is in the realm of norms, human rights, Justice and
communications that the comparative advantages of the United Nations
will be most apparent and that it will make the greatest difference.
Through its conventions, resolutions, statements and actions, the
Organization can help to dissuade disaffected groups from choosing
the terrorist path and those who aid, abet or excuse terrorist acts
from maintaining those ties or sympathies. The universal character,
global reach and international legitimacy of the United Nations constitute
important assets upon which it can draw in this effort. The Secretary-General's
credibility in so many different quarters may equally be of great
use in specific cases.
- Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) is at the
same time a comprehensive and a specific statement of the international
community's desire to deny terrorists the tools of their trade — finance,
secrecy, arms and shelter — but it certainly was not the first. Through
the years, a number of conventions, agencies and programmes — United
Nations and non-United Nations have sought to curb the access of terrorists
to the means of carrying out their violent attacks. This is no easy
task, and it demands the sustained and specific cooperation of a variety
of national, regional and global agencies and arrangements. The Group
envisions the United Nations system playing an important role in the
effort by building on its substantial work on disarmament and curbing
weapons of mass destruction, on implementing the provisions of Council
resolution 1373 (2001), and on narrowing the space available to terrorists
through post-conflict peace-building and related preventive measures.
- The Group understands that these two tasks - dissuasion
and denial — demand a response that is both multi-layered and coherent,
that unfolds within a multilateral framework yet allows each participating
organisation, State and agency to contribute what it does best. The
United Nations has a key place in this effort, but it needs to work
out a sensible division of labour with the many other players. Given
that this is the first attempt at a United Nations system-wide strategy
for dealing with terrorism, careful attention must be paid to the
institutional, bureaucratic and financial questions, the answers to
which can help to ensure an integrated response to this unprecedented
challenge. More fundamentally, the Organization is uniquely situated
to provide the political cohesion and principled purpose required
to sustain broad-based international cooperation to oppose terrorism.
- In pursuing this tripartite strategy of dissuasion,
denial and cooperation to counter terrorism, the United Nations cannot
and must not retreat from the other pressing issues on its wide agenda.
In this regard, the Group was mindful of the address by the Secretary
General during the general debate at the fifty-sixth session of the
General Assembly, in which he stated that the problems, such as poverty,
HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation, that faced the global community
before 11 September 2001 remained just as urgent afterwards. The Group
further recognized that many of the Organization's existing programmes
could help to reduce the appeal of terrorism and the pool of human,
material and financial resources that sustain it. As a result, the
Group decided to recommend neither substantial modifications to the
Organization's agenda, nor organizational changes within the United
Nations system or the diversion of major resources to the struggle
against terrorism. The Group, in its review of the activities of the
United Nations system, recognized that the Organization's terrorism-related
efforts would be more effective if better coordinated, supported by
modestly enhanced resources, and shaped by a more sharply defined
strategy and priorities.
- The present report begins by focusing on international
legal instruments, human rights and behavioural norm setting - which
can be powerful instruments for dissuasion. The second section addresses
three key tools for denial: the United Nations efforts at disarmament
and curbing weapons of mass destruction; implementation of the provisions
of resolution 1373 (2001) and the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee;
and the contributions that United Nations peace-building and conflict-prevention
efforts can make to narrowing the space in which terrorists operate.
The third section considers ways of sustaining cooperation among the
Member States, of working with non-United Nations multilateral initiatives,
and of fostering greater coherence within the United Nations system.
The report concludes with a concise, prioritized list of recommendations
for future United Nations efforts to counter terrorism.
A. International legal instruments
- The Policy Working Group believes that the setting
of international norms through the continuing promotion and adoption
of international legal instruments, the protection of human rights
and the dissemination of a clear principled message should remain
a central priority of United Nations efforts on this issue.
- International efforts in the past decade have resulted
in the adoption of international instruments and other measures at
the international and regional levels that create a legal framework
to combat international terrorism. These include 19 international
and regional instruments (see appendix), as well as resolutions of
the General Assembly and the Security Council. The international community,
led by the Security Council, has unequivocally determined that international
terrorism represents a threat to international peace and security.
International action pursued within the framework of the international
legal instruments represents the most effective and legitimate response
to that threat.
- The effectiveness of any international legal regime
depends on its implementation and support by States. The United Nations
system should intensify efforts to raise awareness of the relevant
instruments relating to international terrorism and transnational
organized crime. The existing international legal instruments relating
to terrorism do not create an integrated system, however, and gaps
remain, in addition, the pace of their ratification remains too slow.
- Disarmament is a particularly important area for
legal norm setting. Additional mechanisms are needed to ensure compliance
with obligations and responsibilities and to enhance transparency.
- International terrorism and transnational organised
crime are often closely interrelated and connected, for example, through
the trafficking of drugs and arms, and money-laundering. Therefore,
a comprehensive programme to counter international terrorism will
be more effective if it is coordinated with the struggle against transnational
organized crime. As the United Nations Convention against Transnational
Organized Crimea enters into force, the
United Nations Office at Vienna (where the secretariat of the Convention
is located) wilt have an important role to play in further exploring
the links and in promoting such coordination.
B. Human rights
- The protection and promotion of human rights under
the rule of law is essential in the prevention of terrorism. First,
terrorism often thrives in environments in which human rights are
violated. Terrorists may exploit human rights violations to gain support
for their cause. Second, it must be understood clearly that terrorism
itself is a violation of human rights. Terrorist acts that take life
violate the right to life set forth in article 6 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.b
Third, it must also be understood that international taw requires
observance of basic human rights standards in the struggle against
terrorism. The struggle against international terrorism will be further
enhanced if the most serious crimes committed by terrorists are tried
before the International Criminal Court and prosecuted under its Statute
(provided that the relevant national court cannot or will not prosecute).
Since the Statute covers the category of crimes against humanity,
which includes murder and extermination committed as part of a widespread
or systematic attack on any civilian population, certain terrorist
acts might therefore be tried under the Statute.
- The struggle against terrorism should be carried
out in keeping with international human rights obligations. The Secretary-General,
the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other international
leaders have highlighted this point. In addressing the Security Council
on 18 January 2002, the Secretary-General stated:
"While we certainly need vigilance
to prevent acts of terrorism, and firmness in condemning and punishing
them, it will be self-defeating if we sacrifice other key priorities
— such as human rights — in the process."
- The various international instruments on human rights
include clear limitations on the actions that States may take within
the context of the fight against terrorism, Slates should be made
aware of the responsibilities placed upon them by the various human
rights instruments and reminded that key provisions of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights cannot be derogated from.
C. Behavioural norm setting
- The United Nations also has an important role to
play in convincing communities that terrorist methods are unacceptable.
However, the United Nations Secretariat traditionally communicates
with Governments, and has tended to be more effective in reaching
the elite than aggrieved communities within Member States. These objectives
require both a clear, consistent message and innovative engagement
with the media and Member States.
- Three overarching goals should lead United Nations
public communication efforts in this arena: first, to reach those
who are not convinced that terrorism is unacceptable, and to persuade
them that there is no valid cause for which it can be used; second,
to highlight the Organization's role in addressing and preventing
it; and third, to prevent the core work of the United Nations from
being obscured by the Organization's response to terrorism.
A. Counter-Terrorism Committee
- The Counter-Terrorism Committee, a committee of the
whole of the Security Council established pursuant to resolution 1373
(2001), is unique, both in the breadth of its mandate and in the innovative
work. It has been compared to the various sanctions committees created
by the Security Council because, like those committees, it monitors
the implementation by States of Council resolutions. However, the
character and scope of the Committee's mandate and working methods
represent an important innovation and open new possibilities for inter-State
- In its unanimous adoption of resolution 1373 (2001)
on 28 September 2001, the Security Council for the first time imposed
measures not against a Stale, its leaders, nationals or commodities,
but against acts of terrorism throughout the world and the terrorists
themselves. It is one of the most expansive resolutions in the history
of the Council, with a focus on ensuring that any person who participates
in the financing, planning, preparation or perpetration of terrorist
acts, or who supports terrorist acts, is brought to justice, and that
such acts are established as serious criminal offences in domestic
law and regulation with punishments that duly reflect their seriousness.
The Council called upon States to submit to the Counter Terrorism
Committee reports on their implementation of the resolution. The Committee
has established subcommittees to review those reports, with the assistance
of experts in relevant fields, and it conducts each review in partnership
with the State that submitted the report. That partnership may lead
the Committee, United Nations agencies and/or certain other States
to provide a substantial degree of technical assistance and cooperation
to facilitate the implementation of resolution 1373 (2001).
- The Counter-Terrorism Committee should be at the
centre of United Nations activities related to terrorism, with the
United Nations system as a whole providing it with the necessary assistance.
In order to allow the Committee to make use of the various resources
available in the United Nations system and to create a veritable network
on terrorism issues, it may become necessary to consider strengthening
the support that the Committee receives from the Secretariat.
B. Weapons of mass destruction, other weapons
and weapons technology
- There is no reliable assessment of the quantity and
quality of weapons, dual-use and related materials, devices and technologies
in the possession of groups and individuals associated with terrorism.
It is clear, however, that as long as stockpiles of any kinds of weapons-related
materials, devices or technologies exist, terrorists may seek to obtain
- Historical experience indicates that, in most cases,
terrorists are more likely to continue to use conventional techniques
that are technically undemanding and not dangerous for them to handle.
Of course, the latter point does not apply to individuals and groups
that are willing to risk or give their lives when carrying out terrorist
attacks. In the light of the 11 September attacks on the United States,
it has become tragically clear that the calculated use of civilian
technologies, such as commercial airplanes as weapons against civilian
targets, is a possible terrorist technique. Since 11 September, there
is a greater probability of imitation and inventiveness in the planning
and execution of terrorist attacks.
- The Director-General of the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) has stated that he considers the theft of a nuclear
weapon and terrorists possessing the means and competence to manufacture
and detonate a nuclear explosive relatively unlikely. The deliberate
exposure to nuclear material leading to harmful effects on people,
property and environment is a more plausible option. A "dirty bomb"
scenario, in which radioactive material is dispersed by a conventional
explosive, can be included as part of this option. Numerous difficulties
remain, however, in defining the nuclear terrorist threat, given the
hundreds of confirmed cases of nuclear smuggling (some involving small
amounts of weapon-usable materials), as well as significant uncertainties
about the status of such materials in States that are known to possess
nuclear weapons. While the wcaponization and use of large quantities
of chemical and biological agents is regarded as unlikely because
of the sophisticated scientific and technological requirements for
their production, the recent anthrax scare in the aftermath of 11
September has shown that small-scale operations using these agents
could cause societal disruption and have economic consequences, in
addition to the human cost and psychological effects.
- Terrorists continue to make extensive use of small
arms, light weapons and explosives for a variety of terrorist acts.
Small arms and light weapons are relatively inexpensive, extremely
durable and easy to carry and conceal. As previously stated, networks
and strong operational links among terrorists, drug traffickers and
arms brokers make it easier to transfer this category of weapons across
borders. Diversions from governmental depots and illicit production
arc major sources of the illicit trade in these weapons. The Programme
of Actionc adopted in 200i by the United
Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons
in All Its Aspects observed that such trafficking fuels organized
crime and terrorism The Programme of Action urges States and appropriate
international or regional organizations to provide assistance to combat
the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons linked to drug trafficking,
transnational organized crime and terrorism. The Protocol against
the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts
and Components and Ammunition,d which
supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized
Crime, offers an instrument against illicit trafficking which involves
organized criminal groups as defined by its parent Convention.
C. Prevention and resolution of armed conflicts
- Terrorism is often related to armed conflict. While
the prevention and resolution of armed conflict should not primarily
be conceived of as anti-terrorist activities, they can assist such
activities by narrowing the space in which terrorists operate, The
United Nations has a long history of working to prevent and resolve
armed conflict. In his report on the prevention of armed conflict
(A/55/985-S/2001/574 and Corr.l), submitted in 2001 to the General
Assembly and the Security Council, the Secretary-General placed the
prevention of armed conflict firmly within the Charter-mandated scope
of the Organization's activities. The Secretary-General set forth
a plan for enhancing the capacity of the United Nations to assist
States in preventing conflict and engaging in peace-building activities
in post-conflict societies that involved two types of strategies —
operational prevention and structural prevention. Operational prevention
refers to immediate measures taken in the context of imminent or actual
crisis, and structural prevention comprises longer-term measures to
remove the causes of conflict.
- Operational prevention is relevant because
any measures that alleviate crises and prevent armed conflicts from
developing or expanding could lower the likelihood that terrorist
acts related to such conflicts would occur. While there is not necessarily
a direct cause and effective relationship between armed conflict and
terrorism, containing a crisis, and showing evidence of progress towards
resolving the issues underlying it, may lessen support among aggrieved
communities for the terrorist groups that purport to represent them.
- In paragraph 99 of the above-mentioned report, (he
Secretary-General provided the following definition of developmental
assistance aimed at structural prevention: "It can ... facilitate
the creation of opportunities and the political, economic and social
spaces within which indigenous actors can identify, develop and use
the resources necessary to build a peaceful, equitable and just society".
If such efforts assist societies to resolve conflict peacefully within
the rule of law, grievances that might have been expressed through
terrorist acts are more likely to be addressed through political,
legal and social means. In addition, effective structural prevention
measures would strengthen the capacities of Slates to avoid the type
of protracted armed conflict that weakened Afghanistan and enabled
the rise within its territory of transnational terrorist networks.
- The Policy Working Group believes that preventive
action, especially measures to strengthen the capacity of States,
can help to create inhospitable environments for terrorism. Anti-terrorist
concerns should not drive preventive activities. However, in particular
conflicts in which terrorism has been prevalent, the United Nations
system should, in its development of preventive and peace-building
programmes, be mindful of including measures, such as those set forth
in the recommendations contained in section V below, that reduce the
space for terrorist activities and increase the capability of Stales
to address terrorist threats.
A. Non-United Nations multilateral initiatives
- Over the past two decades, multilateral institutions
and regional organizations have launched a variety of counter-terrorist
initiatives which have gained momentum with the growing threat of
international terrorism in the wake of the II September attacks.
- Many regional organizations have adopted conventions
that deal explicitly with the issue of terrorism, thus complementing
on a regional level the 12 international conventions on terrorism.
Most of them establish common extradition procedures, slate the aim
of cooperation and call for the exchange of information. The European
Union has taken a leading role in the field of police and judicial
cooperation, not least because of its high degree of integration.
Measures include: a common arrest warrant; a common list of terrorist
organizations; routine exchange of information between member States
and the European Police Office (Europol); the establishment of Eurojust
(a coordination body composed of magistrates, prosecutors and police
officers); joint investigative teams of police and magistrates across
national boundaries; and an effort to establish a common definition
of terrorist activities for criminal justice purposes. On a more global
scale, Interpol does important work, on which regional organizations
could build. With 179 member States, Interpol collects, stores, analyses
and disseminates intelligence about suspected individuals and groups
and their activities.
- Secretariats of some regional organizations have
established specialized units, task forces or designated posts that
focus on terrorism. Such steps establish clear delineations of responsibility,
especially for facilitating inter-organizational cooperation, and
provide clear points of contact.
- Certain organizations have taken action to curb the
financing of terrorism. The Financial Action Task Force on Money-laundering,
an intergovernmental organization created by the Group of Seven industrialized
countries but now comprising 28 member States, plays a leading role
in setting standards and effecting the necessary changes in national
legislation on terrorist financing. On 31 October 2001, the Task Force
issued eight special recommendations on terrorist laundering which
commit member States to a wide range of legislative and regulatory
action. The United Nations has been involved in this area through
the activities undertaken within the framework of the Global Programme
against Money-laundering, implemented by the Office for Drug Control
and Crime Prevention which works in close coordination with the Task
- Various multilateral groups provide technical assistance
to Stales to help them to develop or enhance a variety of legal, financial
and other actions to counter terrorism. Finally, many organizations
have put enhanced emphasis on the importance of interregional political
and religious dialogue. The European Union and the Organization of
the Islamic Conference have launched a cross-cultural dialogue at
the level of foreign ministers.
- The potential role of the United Nations in working
with regional multilateral efforts fits within the Organization's
roles of norm selling, coordination. cooperation and capacity-building.
The norm-setting role has been described elsewhere in the present
report. In supporting coordination and cooperation, the United Nations
should be guided by the following principles: First, the current ad
hoc interaction between the United Nations and regional organizations
should be made more systematic. Second, coordination mechanisms already
in place should be used to avoid duplication of effort and waste of
resources. Third, where possible, the United Nations should help regional
organizations involved in counter-terrorism to develop a division
of labour based on comparative advantage. Fourth, a better flow of
information among regional organizations and the United Nations should
B. Coordination and coherence in the United Nations
- Since the terrorist attacks of 11 September, virtually
all component parts of the United Nations system have taken steps
to incorporate activities to counter terrorism within their respective
areas of work. Many of these entities have enhanced their mandates
to develop counter-terrorism measures and to provide a constitutional
basis for action.
- The resulting overlaps and duplications in the efforts
of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes are natural responses
to an emergency and in most circumstances they provide useful opportunities
for learning, as variations in programmes allow for the identification
of best practice. Much more serious, however, are significant gaps
in the overall repertoire of responses, and gaps between the individual
mandates of organizations and the resources available to meet them.
- There is an enormous gap between mandates and resources.
The Terrorism Prevention Branch of the Centre for International Crime
Prevention of the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention has
two Professional posts and the Centre itself, whose technical assistance
and capacity-building tasks were expanded to include terrorism, has
- The Policy Working Group believes that there is a
need for a senior-level group within the United Nations system to
meet periodically to assess the system's activities on terrorism,
and recommend steps to ensure its effectiveness and coherence, The
Department of Political Affairs, as the focal point of the United
Nations system, on terrorism, could monitor the issue on a regular
basis from a political perspective, ensure that the system is represented
at international meetings as appropriate, and act as convenor of the
proposed senior-level group which, in order to make maximum use of
existing structures, should be the Executive Committee on Peace and
- The recommendations below are grouped in accordance
with the main tasks identified above. In each category, the recommendations
have been presented in descending order of priority.
International legal instruments
The importance of signing, ratifying
and effectively implementing the 12 United Nations counter-terrorism
conventions and, in particular, the International Convention for the
Suppression of the financing of Terrorisme
of 1999, should be stressed to Member States. Both the Secretary-General
and senior officials can convey this message in bilateral meetings and
other forums. The basic premise of this message should be that counter-terrorism
must be firmly grounded in international law.
The periodic review of the status of
ratification and the action taken by States to implement the existing
treaty regime on anti-terrorism should continue to be carried out every
year by the Office of Legal Affairs, and, if requested by the General
Assembly, analytical reviews of that regime should also be carried out,
In order to supplement anti-terrorist
actions, an appeal should be made for the expeditious signature, ratification
and entry into force of the United Nations Convention against Transnational
Organized Crime,a and its three protocolsf.
All relevant parts of the United Nations
system should emphasize that key human rights must always be protected
and may never be derogated from. The independence of the judiciary and
the existence of legal remedies are essential elements for the protection
of fundamental human rights in all situations involving counter-terrorism
The Department of Public Information
should be requested, in consultation with the Office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights, to publish a digest of the core
Jurisprudence of international and regional human rights bodies on the
protection of human rights in the struggle against terrorism. Governments
and human rights organizations could find such a compilation of direct
use in the development of counter-terrorism policies.
The United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights should convene a consultation of international, regional
and subregional organizations and non-governmental organizations on
the protection of human rights in the struggle against terrorism. Smaller,
regional gatherings should also be considered. The Office of the High
Commissioner should also make maximum use of its field presences and
its regional experts, as well as the findings of the human rights treaty
bodies and special rapporteurs.
Non-legal norm setting
The United Nations system, under the
leadership of the Secretary-General, should deliver a consistent, clear,
principled message when addressing the issue of terrorism, as follows:
- The targeting of unarmed civilians is wrong in all
- Governments must ensure that there are avenues to
enable citizens to express concerns and grievances;
- Military force should be used only in strict adherence
with the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.
Such use of force must be exercised in accordance with the international
laws of war. The targeting of civilians and the disproportionate use
of force beyond legitimate military objectives violate international
- Security cannot be achieved by sacrificing human
The Department of Public Information
should initiate a review of how the United Nations can reach local populations
that support terrorist aims, in a form that is designed to be "heard"
by those communities. Country teams should be used to the greatest extent
possible to determine the best means of conveying messages to target
Review and enhance the outreach of the
United Nations information centres to civil society, including the growing
number of institutes and think-tanks in Arabic-speaking countries.
The activities of the United Nations
related to the fight against terrorism should be promoted through, inter
- Public information regarding the work of the Counter-Terrorism
Committee, including the dissemination of positive examples of its
work such as the assistance provided by the Committee and donors,
and advances in regional cooperation;
- Dissemination of the work of United Nations agencies
on the broad range of problems that relate to terrorism, including
giving greater prominence to the work undertaken by the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and other organizations
of the United Nations system in respect of educational initiatives,
such as curricula reform, that aim to increase understanding, encourage
tolerance and respect for human dignity, while reducing mutual mistrust
between communities in conflict. Elements of the United Nations system
which address the issue of education should meet to determine how
best to mount a coherent worldwide programme to assist countries in
which the educational systems need support or that are under the control
of groups advocating terror;
- Promotion of the role of international law in combating
Continue emphasizing the importance
to the fight against terrorism of existing United Nations work in the
areas of human rights, democratic capacity-building, and social and
Ensure better internal communication
within the United Nations system, so as to allow all departments, agencies
and programmes to be well informed of the activities under way in this
field of activity.
It should be ensured that expertise
developed in the various United Nations system offices is made available
to the Counter-Terrorism Committee. The Committee should be consulted
about ways to enhance and make more sustainable the available Secretariat
support for its work. Consideration should be given to convening a meeting
of relevant United Nations actors and the Counter-Terrorism Committee
in order to promote greater dialogue with the United Nations system.
The symposium on the theme "Combating international terrorism: the contribution
of the United Nations", held at Vienna on 3 and 4 June 2002, has provided
a first phase for such a process.
To assist Member States and regional
bodies in the implementation of Security Council resolution 1373 (2001),
the Centre for International Crime Prevention of the Office for Drug
Control and Crime Prevention could develop model legislation and provide
advice to ensure that existing taws designed to fight domestic terrorism
are amended in order to ensure their effectiveness against terrorism.
Since the Centre is currently considering how best to organize itself
to carry out these tasks, the Group does not have a specific recommendation
on how this should be done, other than to note that additional resources
may be required.
States should be encouraged to view
the implementation of Council resolution 1373 (2001) and. by extension,
the mechanism of targeted sanctions, as an instrument of democratic
governance and statecraft that would help States more effectively to
control their borders, regulate trade and control the activities of
illicit traffickers, terrorists, organized crime and other non-State
Together with the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights, a dialogue should be maintained with
the Counter-Terrorism Committee on the importance of ensuring respect
for human rights during the implementation of legislation, policies
and practices to combat terrorism,
A network involving the United Nations
system and the Bretton Woods institutions should be created to help
Member States (in particular those needing greater assistance) to implement
the recommendations of the Counter-Terrorism Committee.
Consideration should be given to the
establishment of a mechanism under the Department for Disarmament Affairs
that would produce a biennial public report on the potential use of
weapons of mass destruction in terrorist acts. This mechanism would
make use of existing United Nations resources and specialized databases,
as well as information received from Member States, and could serve
as a barometer of terrorist danger, Furthermore, this mechanism could
be available to assist the Committee, either directly, by providing
analysis and advice, or indirectly, by recommending appropriate cooperation
between the Security Council (or the Committee) and the relevant operational
agencies, such as the International Atomic energy Agency or the Organization
for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The aforementioned report could
be linked to the periodic review of legislation referred to in recommendation
2 above and, if deemed appropriate, submitted to the General Assembly
so as to draw the attention of the membership to this important issue.
The development of the technical capabilities
of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Health Organization to
provide assistance to States in the event of the threat or use of weapons
of mass destruction, other weapons and technologies should be encouraged.
Arrangements through which specialized
agencies or related organizations can provide assistance and advice
to States on how to develop and maintain adequate civil defence capability
against the use of weapons of mass destruction, other weapons or technologies
should be facilitated.
Relevant United Nations offices should
be tasked with producing proposals to reinforce ethical norms, and the
creation of codes of conduct for scientists, through international and
national scientific societies and institutions that teach sciences or
engineering skills related to weapons technologies, should be encouraged.
Such codes of conduct would aim to prevent the involvement of defence
scientists or technical experts in terrorist activities and restrict
public access to knowledge and expertise on the development, production,
stockpiling and use of weapons of mass destruction or related technologies.
The importance of effective post-conflict
peace building should be emphasized, not only to avert the resurgence
of violent conflict, but also to prevent the development of situations
of lawlessness in which terrorist groups may thrive. The United Nations
Development Programme and the Department of Political Affairs, and together
with the Centre for International Crime Prevention of the Office for
Drug Control and Crime Prevention, could set up a database of best practice
in these fields, which could be developed and disseminated in order
to help Member States in their fight against terrorism.
Measures should be taken to ensure that
the mandates of peacekeeping operations are sensitive to terrorism-related
issues, providing, for instance, that civilian police officers received
appropriate training on measures to identify and counter terrorist groups.
The Office for Drug Control and Crime
Prevention and the Department for Disarmament Affairs should study the
links between terrorism and organized crime, including drug trafficking,
money-laundering, illicit trafficking of arms and corruption, which
provide an environment that enables terrorist operations to expand.
Non-United Nations multilateral initiatives
Terrorism should be on the agenda for
the next high-level meeting of the Secretary-General with regional organizations,
scheduled to be held in 2003.
The above-mentioned meeting could develop
an international action plan in which the United Nations would:
- Encourage closer cooperation among regional organizations
and promote the establishment of an informal network of contacts;
- Call upon international financial institutions and
other donors to increase the resources and technical assistance they
provide to developing countries to combat the financing of terrorism;
- Cooperate with regional organizations in identifying
best practice in the field of counter-terrorism and promote its adoption.
The Department of Political Affairs,
as the focal point of the United Nations system on terrorism, should
maintain contact with regional and international organizations in order
to ensure that the United Nations is consistently represented at an
appropriate level at international meetings on the subject.
Action should be taken to ensure that
existing meetings for interaction with regional organizations include
cooperation in the fight against terrorism as a priority issue in their
Measures should be taken to assign a
clearer responsibility and to allocate the needed capacity for more
effective liaison with Interpol and other police-related activities,
in order to ensure that information flows through the United Nations
Coordination and coherence within
the United Nations system
In order to clarify responsibilities,
the Department of Political Affairs should be identified as the focal
point of the United Nations system for political and strategic issues
related to counter terrorism, while the Centre for International Crime
Prevention of the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention should
take the lead in assisting Member States in implementing the relevant
conventions and resolutions. The Office of Legal Affairs should continue
to assist Member Slates in the elaboration i:r conventions against terrorism.
Improve coordination to avoid overlaps
and gaps in counter-terrorism activities should be improved by:
- Making counter-terrorism a regular (annual) item
on the agendas of the High-level Committee on Programmes and of the
United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination with
the aim of enhancing coordination among agencies, funds and programmes;
- Tasking ECPS, chaired by the Department of Political
Affairs as the focal point of the United Nations system on terrorism,
to meet on the subject every two months in order to achieve greater
coordination in the action taken by the United Nations to counter
Assembly resolution 55/25, annex I.
Assembly resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.
c See Report
of the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms
and Light Weapons in All its Aspects, New York. 9-20 July 2001 (A/CONF.
Assembly resolution 55/255, annex.
Assembly resolution 54/109, annex.
Assembly resolution 55/25, annexes II and III, and resolution 55/255,
These are the 19 global or regional
treaties directly pertaining to the subject of international terrorism:
- International Civil Aviation Organization, Convention
on Offences and Certain Other Ads Committed on Board Aircraft. Signed
at Tokyo on 14 September 1963. Entered into force on 4 December 1969.
- ________, Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful
Seizure of Aircraft. Signed at The Hague on 16 December 1970. Entered
into force on 14 October 1971.
- ________, Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful
Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation. Signed at Montreal, Canada,
on 23 September 1971. Entered into force on 26 January 1973.
- United Nations, Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including
Diplomatic Agents. Adopted by the General Assembly in resolution 3166
(XXVIII) of 14 December 1973. Entered into force on 20 February 1977
(United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1035, p. 167).
- ________, International Convention against the Taking
of Hostages. Adopted by the General Assembly in resolution 34/146
of 17 December 1979. Entered into force on 3 June 1983 (United Nations,
Treaty Series, vol. 1316, p. 205).
- International Atomic Energy Agency, Convention on
the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. Signed at Vienna and
in New York on 3 March 1980. Adopted at Vienna on 26 October 1979.
Entered into force on 8 February 1987.
- International Civil Aviation Organization, Protocol
for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving
International Civil Aviation, supplementary to the Convention for
the Suppression ul Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation,
done at Montreal on 23 September 1971. Signed at Montreal. Canada,
on 24 February 1988. Entered into force on 6 August 1989.
- International Maritime Organisation, Convention for
the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation.
Adopted in Rome on 10 March 1988. Entered into force on 1 March 1992.
- ________, Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful
Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental
Shelf. Adopted in Rome on 10 March 1988. Entered into force on 1 March
- International Civil Aviation Organization, Convention
on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection.
Done at Montreal, Canada, on 1 March 1991. Entered into force on 21
- United Nations, International Convention for the
Suppression of Terrorist Bombings. Adopted by the General Assembly
in resolution 52/164 of 15 December 1997. Entered into force on 23
- ________, International Convention on the Suppression
of Financing of Terrorism. Adopted by the General Assembly in resolution
54/109 of 9 December 1999. Entered into force on 10 April 2002.
- League of Arab States, Arab Convention on the Suppression
of Terrorism. Signed at Cairo on 22 April 1998. Entered into force
on 7 May 1999.
- Organization of the Islamic Conference, Convention
on Combating International Terrorism. Adopted at Ouagadougou on 1
July 1999, Not yet in force.
- Council of Europe, European Convention on the Suppression
of Terrorism. Opened for signature at Strasbourg, France, on 27 January
1977. Entered into force on 4 August 1978.
- Organization of American States, Convention to Prevent
and Punish the Acts of Terrorism Taking the Form of Crimes against
Persons and Related Extortion that arc of International Significance.
Signed at Washington, D.C., on 2 February 1971. Entered into force
on 16 October 1973.
- African Union (formerly Organization of African Unity),
Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism. Adopted at
Algiers on 14 July 1999. Not yet in force.
- South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation,
Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism. Signed at Kathmandu
on 4 November 1987. Entered into force on 22 August 1988.
- Commonwealth of Independent States, Treaty on Cooperation
among the States Members of the Commonwealth of Independent States
in Combating Terrorism. Adopted at Minsk on 4 June 1999. Entered into
force in accordance with its article 22.