Question of Palestine home
13 November 2000
Summary record of the 27th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Monday, 13 November 2000, at 10 a.m.
Agenda item 164: Measures to eliminate international terrorism
Agenda item 155: Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts
The meeting was called to order at 10.20 a.m.
Agenda item 164: Measures to eliminate international terrorism
(A/55/37 and 179 and Add.1; A/C.6/55/L.2)
(France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, the associated countries of Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, and, in addition, Norway, said that the European Union unreservedly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, whatever cause might be invoked in justification and whoever the perpetrators. The increase in terrorist acts such as aircraft hijackings and hostage-taking was a matter of particular concern. In order to combat international terrorism, the international community must arm itself with effective cooperation instruments which both respected human rights and addressed the political and human issues that constituted the factors of instability on which terrorist groups fed.
7. All European Union member States were parties to the 1977 European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, which had laid the groundwork for European cooperation in that area, while the Council Act of 27 September 1996 drawing up a protocol to the European Convention on Extradition was also a useful tool. The desire for European harmonization was reflected in the introduction into the domestic law of member States of strict regulations governing the handling of explosives. Efforts had been stepped up to prevent and reduce the threat of transnational terrorism by exchanges of information, which since July 1999 had been handled by the European Police Office (Europol). Cooperation with other States had also intensified, particularly with associated States of the European Union. Close contacts were maintained with the United States and the Russian Federation. It was hoped to increase dialogue with the Mediterranean coastal States and a programme of assistance to the Palestinian Authority had been set up.
(United Arab Emirates) said that terrorism was largely motivated by extremism or was a violent reaction to situations of oppression, frustration and despair. It was unrelated to geographical location, culture or religious belief and he therefore urged transparency and objectivity in addressing the subject. His country had taken various measures to combat all aspects of terrorism and had strengthened cooperation with neighbouring States and with regional and international organizations with a view to strengthening monitoring activities and exchanging information so as to combat crime and terrorism. It had also ratified a number of the international instruments relating to terrorism.
21. He was deeply concerned by the biased media campaigns which linked Arabs and Islam with international terrorism and called on the international community to make a distinction between terrorism and the national struggle of peoples under colonial domination and foreign occupation for restoration of their legitimate rights. He was equally concerned by the terrorist practices and systematic killing and violence inflicted on the Palestinian people by the Israeli occupation forces and heavily armed extremist settlers. He urged the United Nations to provide protection for the Palestinian people and, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions, to prevail on Israel to end its aggression against the Palestinian people, their homes and their property, and to cooperate in an independent legal inquiry that would ensure prosecution of the Israeli officials responsible for causing that human tragedy. He affirmed his country’s support for all international and regional efforts to combat the roots of terrorism, including those aimed at elaborating a comprehensive convention on international terrorism and at convening a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations to formulate a joint organized response of the international community to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
(Qatar) reiterated his country’s condemnation of all forms of terrorism, which conflicted with the teachings of Islam and other religions. His delegation had participated in the discussions on the elaboration of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, which should address the questions overlooked in the existing conventions, primarily that of the definition of terrorism. Many States were looking forward to a distinction which separated terrorism from the right of peoples to self-determination and the legitimate struggle of peoples under foreign occupation, particularly where national liberation movements were concerned. The preamble should contain a reference to the Declaration on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations, and to international humanitarian law and human rights.
42. The gruesome images depicted in the media during recent weeks of the massacres and terrorist crimes committed against defenceless Palestinians by the Israeli military machine provided concrete proof that armed forces should not be excluded from the scope of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism. Their exclusion under the proposed article 18, paragraph 2, of the draft convention was tantamount to permitting such terrorist crimes against innocent civilians to be perpetrated with impunity, in disregard of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. As his delegation had already stated, the international community could not simply censure attacks on innocent women, children and elderly people without taking practical measures to secure the rights of the Palestinian people and their protection from the Israeli occupiers. One week earlier, Qatar had decided to demonstrate its solidarity with the Palestinian people in their harsh ordeal by closing the Israeli trade office in Doha as a result of Israel’s decision to suspend the peace process and replace dialogue with force and violence.
43. The text of the draft comprehensive convention nevertheless provided a sound basis for the development of a convention that filled the gaps in the existing conventions on terrorism. He supported the convening of a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations to formulate a joint organized response of the international community to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
(Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that in the course of the debate certain delegations had sought to use the Committee as a forum for launching political and unsubstantiated accusations against his country. The work of the Committee was too important for it to be used to serve narrow political agendas. The Committee would fulfil its solemn responsibility in the fight against terrorism only if it proceeded in a spirit of consensus. He urged all delegations to conduct the debate in that spirit and to avoid partisan and offensive language.
48. If the representatives of those delegations which had spoken against his country were genuinely concerned about the scourge of terrorism in the Middle East, they would be talking about the importance of a return to the peace process. They would condemn all acts of terror, including the car bomb in the crowded Mahaneh Yehuda market which had claimed the lives of two Israeli civilians, the brutal mob lynching of two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah, and the desecration of various Jewish holy sites. Their commitment to the fight against terrorism would compel them to call on the Palestinian leadership to reincarcerate the convicted Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists released from Palestinian jails. They would call for security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, in accordance with the agreements reached thus far. Their silence in that regard revealed more than it concealed about the real motives behind the current stalemate.
The meeting rose at 5.30 p.m.