Item 166: Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism
(New York, October 2 2001)
Statement by Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso, Permanent Representative of Colombia
The events of 11 September have once more demonstrated that terrorism, with its trail of desolation and death, is one of the greatest challenges facing our Organization. It is a challenge that requires from us an urgent, vigorous and effective response.
The fight against international terrorism is a responsibility of all of us. In Colombia, one of the manifestations of terrorism is supported by another criminal activity that also has global repercussions: the activity related to the illicit drug world problem. Experience has taught us that the international community's fight against the global problem of drugs, a fight in which the principle of shared responsibility has been accepted, is a critical element in the fight against terrorism. Similarly, success in the fight against terrorism will depend on the extent to which we also implement the principle of shared responsibility in this field. The entire international community must pledge itself to the prevention, punishment and elimination of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. In this fight, each State should be assigned a task commensurate with its circumstances and capacity to undertake it.
The acts, methods and practices of terrorists are criminal acts that are unjustifiable and contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. They are a threat to the peaceful and civilized co-existence of our peoples, to the stability of our institutions and to global peace and security.
But there is a troubling reality that undermines our effectiveness, and that is the inability of our Organization to take sustained, consistent and effective action against international terrorism. We have to develop methods and instruments that would enable us, through joint and concerted action at the global, regional and national levels, to prevent, combat and defeat international terrorism. To this end, we must take simultaneous action on a number of different fronts.
Colombia considers fundamental the institutional strengthening of the United Nations in the fight against international terrorism. The scale of this threat to peace and security requires our Organization to establish a particular responsibility through an office, a program, a fund or an agency of the highest level and with appropriate funding to coordinate efforts aimed at preventing, combating and eradicating international terrorism.
It is true that at each of its sessions the General Assembly has adopted a resolution on measures to eliminate international terrorism, in which it vigorously condemns all terrorist acts, methods and practices, deems them unjustifiable regardless of their political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic or religious considerations, and calls upon States to adopt measures and to cooperate in the fight against international terrorism. But we also know that in the last few years there has been no consensus on this resolution and that the General Assembly has had to adopt it by voting. We must take advantage of the mood created by this tragedy to give impetus to our efforts, adopt more flexible positions and seek the unity that is critical for progress to be achieved in the fight against this scourge of the twenty-first century.
We must overcome the differences of opinion that for many years have prevented us from reaching consensus on a common definition of international terrorism and on the persons to whom conventions on terrorism should apply. Colombia is of the view that international terrorism differs from other serious crimes because its aim is to sow terror among the population and to destabilize or force a government or an international organization to take or refrain from taking some action. I repeat, for us terrorism is defined by its objective and we therefore condemn any terrorist act, irrespective of its authors, their motivations, methods, practices or the place where the act is committed. We must once and for all isolate terrorism from its political context in order to be able to combat it for what it is, namely, a grave crime against the lives of innocent persons. The time has come to express with a single voice our rejection of terrorist acts and of those who abet and sponsor them, and to enunciate a policy of zero tolerance of international terrorism.
Colombia supports without reservations the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on International Terrorism and pledge to participate constructively in the coming meeting of the Working Group of the Sixth Committee in which negotiations are taking place on the draft of a comprehensive convention on terrorism submitted by India, with a view to its adoption during the current session of the Assembly. We also hope that States can reconcile their differences on the draft Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, whose adoption is now all the more urgent and necessary.
The attacks this past 11 September not only sowed death and destruction in the city that is host to our Organization, but have also created a new economic reality. The multilateral banks must act in a concerted and coordinated way to contain the economic damage caused by terrorist acts, particularly in the developing countries.
On the other hand, it is indispensable to deprive international terrorism of its sources of funding. It has been demonstrated that international terrorism uses similar financial networks with the traffic of illicit drugs and the illegal trade in arms. In accordance with the principle of shared responsibility, Colombia calls for a firm fight against the money laundering that feeds these grave problems of humanity.
Colombian laws have established high standards that allow us to show today a successful experience in judicial action against the organized crime financing sources, an experience that we can apply in the fight against international terrorism. Furthermore, we have achieved strong cooperation with other national entities in the United States and South American and European countries. We have comply with all the recommendations of the International Financial Action Task Force to eliminate money laundering, and we are ready to cooperate and give technical assistance if necessary.
Colombia, as a member of the Security Council, voted in favor of Resolution 1373 that imposes on all countries an obligation to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorists acts and to cooperate towards that goal. Similarly, we have assumed the responsibility that is now ours to serve as Chairman of the Committee on Sanctions on Afghanistan, through which the only active sanctions regime in force in the United Nations aimed specifically at fighting international terrorism has been imposed on the Taliban. Our experience enables us to state that much more remains to be done to enhance the effectiveness of sanctions. The monitoring mechanism approved last July represents an important step forward in this regard.
In recent days, our country has supported the convening of the consultative meeting of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, a basic mechanism of collective defence for the countries of the Americas. The meeting established that terrorist attacks against the United States of America are attacks against all States in the hemisphere and that they will be met by all States using mechanisms of reciprocal assistance. Colombia also participated actively in the consultative meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of American States, at which, at the initiative of Colombia among other countries, it was decided to negotiate an Inter-American Convention against Terrorism and to strengthen the Inter-American Committee on Terrorism with a view to intensifying the struggle against this crime through the adoption of urgent measures to enhance inter-American cooperation in this area.
Allow me to finish this speech reiterating my country's firm commitment with the fight against international terrorism and insisting in the necessity of an urgent, vigorous and effective response from the United Nations to face this real threat to international peace and security.
Thank you very much.