|Terrorism Agenda Addresses Victims and Strategy; Work Towards Definition to Continue in October|
|Monday, 15 September 2008|
New York – UN Member States met 9th September for the first-ever Symposium on Supporting the Victims of Terrorism. Last week they held a review of the UN’s Global Counter Terrorism Strategy. Both events raised questions concerning the definition of terrorism, which is still being negotiated in the General Assembly (GA).Efforts to draft a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) have been on the agenda of the General Assembly since 1996, with the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee (AHC) “to address means of further developing a comprehensive legal framework of conventions dealing with international terrorism” (Resolution 51/210). Since then, the AHC and the General Assembly’s (GA) Working Group on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism – part of the GA’s Sixth (Legal) Committee – have worked on separate but related aspects of draft negotiations for the CCIT.
On 6 March 2008, the AHC recommended that the Working Group continue negotiations in the 63rd Session “with a view to finalizing the draft.” (Click here to the read the AHC report.) To this end, the Working Group will meet on Thursday, 9 October and Thursday, 16 October to resume drafting the CCIT.
No legal definition of terrorism currently exists under UN conventions and laws. Despite the inclusion of draft definition language in the AHC’s 2002 report, real differences remain as to the exact nature and scope of terrorism. Member States have so far been unable to offer their full support for any of the proposals resulting from consultations. Consultations currently are focused on the scope of the suggested definition – that is, the acts and actors to include and exclude from that definition. Among the most problematic issues: whether the definition should include State-sponsored acts and/or military activities, and how to handle acts within an armed struggle against foreign occupation, aggression or colonialism (which some consider as exercising the right of self-determination).
Impact on Symposium on Supporting Victims
The Symposium on Supporting the Victims of Terrorism was a day-long event convened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It was attended by terrorism experts, Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and 18 victims of terrorism. Preparations for the symposium had raised questions about the criteria by which victims would be defined – and therefore whom would be invited – in the absence of an official UN definition of terrorism. The spokesperson for the Secretary-General, Michèle Montas, fielded repeated inquiries from journalists about this, eventually arranging for press briefings with Secretary-General Ban and with Robert Orr, Chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy Implementation Task Force. During Orr’s briefing on 8 September, he noted that one of the reasons for an international event in support of victims of terrorism was “the gridlock over questions of definition.” He said that the criteria for selection had been based on the broadest elements of consensus among Member States –- agreed international legal instruments –-to “keep politics as far out of this as possible”. Orr noted the existing “solid legal basis on which the Organization and the wider international community could proceed: 16 international legal instruments –- 13 conventions and three protocols –- that identified ‘acts of terrorism’, including terrorist bombing, kidnapping, hijacking and financing of terrorism.” None of the documents included here mention State terrorism, but he noted that the Observer Mission of Palestine had been invited to participate in the Symposium, along with all other Member States and observers. The Symposium did not include victims of State terror, and at Secretary-General Ban’s briefing on 9 September he noted that under existing legal instruments, such victims were not considered victims of terrorism. However, they were discussed at the UN under other categories.
Impact on UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy
In a process distinct from the CCIT negotiations, Member States met last week (Friday, 5 September) to review the 2006 Global Counter Terrorism Strategy (GCTS) and the 2008 Report of the Secretary-General on implementing the GCTS.General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim noted that the continued lack of success in articulating a legal definition of terrorism (in the CCIT negotiations) should not reflect negatively on the consensus reached on the GCTS. Mr. Orr similarly argued that the failure to reach a legal definition was not detrimental to the GCTS, and that the 13 other international conventions that define terrorist acts provide “a strong body of international law that governs a large part of this.”In a press conference on 5 September, Mr. Orr explained that States had temporarily put aside the questions of definition when they adopted the GTCS, partly because of the hope that the strategy itself could provide momentum for an agreement on the definition under the CCIT. Such an agreement, in turn, would help to fight terrorism, Orr said.Next StepsThe Secretary-General’s spokesperson will deliver a background briefing prior to the commencement of the work of the Sixth Committee’s Working Group (before 9 October), to discuss the current stage of CCIT negotiations.
Draft Report of the AHC on Draft CCIT (29 February 2008)
Resolution 60/288: UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (20 September 2006)
Report of the AHC on Draft CCIT (includes latest working draft text) (1 February 2002)
Resolution 51/210: Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism (17 December 1996)
(Courtesy : reformtheun.org )
|Last Updated ( Monday, 09 March 2009 )|
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