As Sixth Committee Begins Seventy-Seventh Session, Speakers Call for Clear Definition of Terrorism, Draft Convention on Global Menace to Be Concluded

As the Sixth Committee (Legal) met to approve its work programme for the seventy-seventh session and began its consideration of the Secretary-General report on measures to eliminate international terrorism, delegates called for a draft comprehensive convention to be concluded and the resolving of outstanding issues regarding the definition of terrorism.
The Secretary-General’s report “Measures to eliminate international terrorism” (document A/77/185) contains information on measures taken both on national and international levels, based on the submissions from Government and international organizations.
The representative of Iran, speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized that all States must combat terrorism, including by prosecuting or extraditing the perpetrators of terrorist acts. However, he noted that terrorism should not be equated with the legitimate struggle of peoples under colonial or alien domination and foreign occupation. The brutalization of peoples remaining under foreign occupation should continue to be denounced as the gravest form of terrorism, he stressed.
Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s representative, speaking for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), called for resolving the outstanding issues on the draft convention on terrorism, including the legal definition of terrorism, particularly on the distinction between terrorism and the struggle for the rights of self-determination. Emphasizing that terrorism cannot be associated with any religion, race, faith, culture, ethnicity or society, she said that politicized attempts to link Islam with terrorism served only the interest and aspirations of terrorists and promoted xenophobia.
The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as an observer, expressed regret over the growing polarization of the multilateral fora on this issue. The European Union Directive on combating terrorism included a clear definition of terrorist offences that that allowed for harmonized criminalization, he said.
Nigeria’s representative, speaking for the African Group, also called for the conclusion of the draft convention. Urging Member States to cooperate to achieve consensus on that draft, he also voiced support for a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations to be convened towards formulating an international response to terrorism in all its forms.
The representative of Brazil underscored that his country incorporated the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism into its domestic legislation along with a national law on the topic, which contains a definition of terrorism. Defining in precise terms what terrorism means, including its objective and subjective elements, was mandatory in light of the essential role the principle of legality played in criminal law.
The representative of Nepal called attention to the drivers and the root causes of terrorism, such as poverty, social inequality, political exclusion, dispossession and lack of good governance. Addressing those issues was crucial. Promotion of dialogue, tolerance and understanding among civilizations, cultures, and religions was also important for tackling terrorism. Universal fraternity, religious tolerance, peaceful co-existence, and the principle of non-violence were integral to Nepali culture and embedded in their Constitution.
Echoing that stance, the representative of Bahrain noted that her country countered terrorism by promoting a culture of tolerance and dialogue between faiths and cultures. Its comprehensive approach in addressing extremism and terrorism emphasized that no development should be achieved without peace.
Canada’s delegate, also speaking for Australia and New Zealand – founding members of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum – highlighted a gender-sensitive component, noting that the countries recently finalized the Gender and Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Policy Toolkit. This would aid in the goals of the Gender and Identities Factors Platform of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism.
The delegate of Norway, speaking also for Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden said: “Although the threat from terrorism is global, effective and sustainable solutions can often be found at the local level.” She emphasized the importance of listening to the voices of young people, as they were key to preventing radicalization.
Similarly, the representative of Peru stressed the need to reach young people to prevent the use of social media for recruitment, which is crucial to combat financing for terrorism. In addition, her country has been promoting a social inclusion agenda for the benefit of the most vulnerable, advocating for preventive counter-terrorism activities.
The representative of Honduras, touching upon the role of women in combatting terrorism, said that at a time when unilateralism seemed to be gaining ground at the international level, Member States must change this trend and take the role of women into account in accordance with resolution 1325 (2000) of the Security Council.
Homing in on that point, the delegate of Bangladesh stated that terrorism had a disproportionate impact on women who were often forced to act as recruiters and subjected to sexual violence in captivity by terrorist groups. In this regard, Bangladesh adopted the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, which recognized women’s particular role in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism.
In that regard, the delegate of Mexico emphasized the need of incorporating the impact of notions of masculinity within terrorism and radicalization strategies. He underlined that terrorism could be tackled through development, employment, education, improved living conditions, guarantee of human rights and gender equality.
Prior to the debate, Pedro Comissário Afonso (Mozambique), Chair for the seventy-seventh session, highlighted the unique role of the Sixth Committee and the significance of international law for the achievement of the goals of the United Nations. Reminding delegates that the General Assembly has always relied on the diligent work and expertise of the Sixth Committee, he called for a spirit of cooperation and mutual understanding. Noting that the Committee has been allotted 31 agenda items for this session, he also introduced the members of the new Bureau: Vice-Chairs Tzvety Romanska (Bulgaria); Edgar Daniel Leal Matta (Guatemala) and Anna Pála Sverrisdóttir (Iceland) and Rapporteur Sarah Zahirah Ruhama (Malaysia.
In addition, the Committee also established working groups for “Measures to eliminate international terrorism”; “Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission”; “Measures to eliminate international terrorism”; “The scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction”; and “Responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts” and elected chairpersons therein.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Cambodia (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Singapore, Jordan, Democratic Republic of Korea, Iran, United States, Israel, Malaysia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Viet Nam, Guatemala, Pakistan, Paraguay, Senegal, Mongolia, Cameroon, Cuba, Tajikistan, Russian Federation, Argentina, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, Maldives, India, Iraq, Sudan, Brunei Darussalam, Georgia, South Africa, Ghana, Syria and Yemen.

Source: United Nation

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