Question of Palestine home
14 November 2000
Summary record of the 28th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 14 November 2000, at 10 a.m.
Mr. Politi ....................................................................(Italy)
Mr. Vázquez (Vice-Chairman)
Mr. Politi (Chairman)
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 (
Agenda item 156: Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives (
The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
Agenda item 164: Measures to eliminate international terrorism
) (A/55/37, A/55/179 and Add.1; A/C.6/55/L.2)
39. There was no doubt that the international community required a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. A convention of that type could achieve its objective, however, only if it contained a clear definition of terrorism and made an unequivocal distinction between acts of terrorism and the struggle of peoples for freedom and self-determination. He supported the proposal put forward by Malaysia on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference since the draft submitted by India did not meet those requirements. A convention which omitted such considerations would have grave consequences: it would not apply to some acts of terrorism, while, on the other hand, it would apply to other acts which should not be considered acts of terrorism.
40. He wondered whether it would be logical and fair, for example, for such a convention not to apply to the crimes perpetrated by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories. In addition, Iraq had been and continued to be the victim of terrorist acts committed by two permanent members of the Security Council. Since the most recent large-scale military attack, launched against the country in October 1991, those States, without the Council’s authorization, had imposed no-fly zones in the north and south of the country. Furthermore, their daily air attacks, another example of State terrorism, had caused hundreds of casualties among the civilian population and considerable property damage. The United States of America had promulgated a so-called Act on the liberation of Iraq, by virtue of which millions of dollars were being used to fund terrorist groups for the purpose of overthrowing the Iraqi Government by force. A report published in
The New York Times
a few days after the adoption of Security Council resolution 1269 (1999), which condemned all acts of terrorism, had referred to the military training being provided to Iraqi mercenary groups by the Central Intelligence Agency, which proved that the United States was aiding and abetting international terrorism: such practices were aimed at destroying the infrastructure of another State and sowing terror among its population. The terrorist acts perpetrated by States caused many more casualties than those committed by individuals. He stressed the responsibility of States which provided arms, resources and support to terrorists in order to achieve their own political objectives.
(Saudi Arabia) emphasized that his Government supported the efforts of the international community to combat the scourge of terrorism. Saudi Arabia had been the first country to sign the Convention of the Organization of the Islamic Conference on Combating International Terrorism, adopted in 1999, and had participated in numerous conferences on the issue, collaborated in the formulation of strategies to combat terrorism and organized specialized training seminars on the matter.
49. With regard to the draft convention proposed by India, his delegation believed that it could not be considered comprehensive because it did not contain an exhaustive definition of the term “terrorism”, nor did it establish a distinction between international terrorism and the legitimate struggle of peoples against oppression in defence of their right to self-determination, or include among terrorist acts attacks by armed forces against the civilian population, such as those by the Israeli army. In the absence of such elements, the convention would only be a repetition of previous texts. With regard to the proposal submitted by Malaysia on behalf of the members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (A/C.6/55/WG.1/CRP.30), he regretted that there had been insufficient time to examine it and hoped that it would be possible to do so in the near future. Lastly, he expressed support for Iran’s proposal concerning the draft comprehensive convention, which had the merit of filling in the gaps left by previous conventions and agreements. His delegation also commended Australia’s efforts on the subject of nuclear terrorism and reiterated its support for the proposal formulated by the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries to include the acts of military forces within the draft convention’s scope of application.
(Lebanon) reaffirmed his Government’s position that the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism offered the possibility of resolving issues that had not been considered in previous conventions. That position was based on two guiding principles: first, that terrorism was a grave evil that threatened democratic societies and should be combated as an element of organized crime; Lebanon was opposed to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Secondly, the concept of terrorism should be defined and should be differentiated from acts relating to the liberation struggle or resistance to occupying forces. Thus, a distinction should be drawn between violence against civilians, as a political, racist and religious objective, and military acts against armed forces of occupation, based on peoples’ legitimate right to fight for their freedom, independence and dignity.
62. Lebanon’s position was governed by international law, which protected its rights, dignity and sovereignty. Lebanon did not possess nuclear arms or weapons of mass destruction, but only its people’s faith in their land and in their right to defend their country and its sovereignty, which had allowed it to resist Israeli occupation for 22 years and, finally, to liberate the country and put an end to the occupation. In the absence of an international legal framework to protect it, Lebanon had paid a very high price for that resistance, because the occupying forces had made no distinction between civilians and soldiers and had perpetrated repeated killings. A telling example was the 1996 Israeli raid on the United Nations, which was the very symbol of peace, in the town of Qana. It was painful for Lebanon to listen to jurists saying that they were tired of the argument regarding the distinction between the legitimate right of peoples to self-determination and the acts of genocide and bombings of the occupying Power. That was tantamount to saying that the principles of international law and human rights were separable, justified in one context and not in another. The events of Qana, a town of sacred and religious significance, demonstrated that not even that symbol of peace was inviolable, and it was therefore difficult to understand why it was not possible to include wording in the draft convention that would protect civilians from the terrorism of an occupying Power. Lebanon insisted on its right to continue making that distinction. On that basis, his delegation supported the draft comprehensive convention against international terrorism and reiterated its support for all international measures to combat terrorism and strengthen international cooperation to that end.
63. His delegation also wished to insist on the need to deal with the causes of terrorism and not restrict the debate to expressing condemnations and imposing sanctions. In that respect, it referred to the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (A/55/502), of 20 October 2000, and, in particular, to paragraph 15, in which reference was made to the need for prevention strategies to address the root causes of violent conflict and the environments that promoted it.
64. His delegation condemned the savagery of Israeli terrorism and emphasized that, to be stable and sustainable, the solutions to the conflict should be based on the decisions and resolutions of international law and on the essential principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. In that respect, his delegation reiterated its support for the international community’s efforts to develop a legal framework to put an end to international terrorism and protect international peace and security. He underlined the importance, however, of including certain provisions in the draft, in particular the proposal contained in document A/C.6/55/WG.1/CRP.37 that special reference should be made in the preamble to the convention to General Assembly resolution 46/51 of 9 December 1991, to the Declaration on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations and to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. Nevertheless, his delegation’s position would be similar to the one it took when General Assembly resolution 54/110 was adopted.
The meeting rose at 12.35 p.m.