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        General Assembly
21 October 2002

Original: English

Fifty-seventh session
Official Records

Sixth Committee

Summary record of the 10th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Friday, 4 October 2002, at 10 a.m.

Chairman: Mr. Prandler ............................................... (Hungary)


Agenda item 160: Measures to eliminate international terrorism (continued )


The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.

Agenda item 160: Measures to eliminate international terrorism ( continued) (A/57/37, A/57/183 and Add.1, A/57/66, A/57/84-S/2002/645, A/57/88-S/2002/672, A/57/203, A/57/269-S/2002/854, A/57/273-S/2002/875 and A/57/341-S/2002/950)


53. Ms. Schonmann (Israel) said that the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 had reminded the world that terrorism posed a threat to all peace-loving peoples, had no respect for human values and transcended boundaries, nationalities, race and religion. It was a direct challenge to the most fundamental principles of nearly every faith and country. The attacks also showed that terrorism could exist only with the support and complicity of States.

54. Terrorism had its own perverse logic, which dictated that it must continually horrify and stupefy. The same level of violence that shocked the international community one day left it unmoved on the next and terrorists must always find new atrocities to outrage its sensibility. The war against terrorism was crucial, not just for Israel but for the world at large. It was a war for homes and families and indeed for civilization. There was no value, however sacred, that fundamentalist terrorism had not trampled underfoot.

55. But although terrorism was abhorrent, it was also vulnerable. Where the proponents of terrorism could not be attacked directly, their lifelines, particularly their financing and their State support, could be cut off. With regard to the former, it should be remembered that international terrorism was a business that could not operate without a steady flow of funds. The Security Council had recognized that fact when it called upon all States to prevent the financing of terrorists and terrorist organizations, including through organizations that claimed to have charitable, social or cultural goals. That was not always easy. Governments were loath to be seen taking steps against charitable organizations that ostensibly raised money for the poor and weak. It must be recognized, however, that terrorist fund-raising in the guise of charity was a doubly heinous crime. It marked not only death, but in so doing cynically abused those in genuine need of assistance. Israel was currently in the advanced stages of ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. During the previous year, it had revised its money-laundering legislation and had continued the outlawing of extremist organizations engaged in terrorist fund-raising under the guise of charitable activities. Those organizations continued to raise funds abroad, however, and Israel called upon all States to take similar action. States should consider all necessary ways in which, within the framework of their domestic legislation, they could remove the veil of charitable purposes, where such purposes were but a thin disguise for terrorist activity.

56. The second weakness of terrorism was that it could not operate in a vacuum and depended on sympathetic States for sponsorship and support. The international community should therefore make it very clear that sponsoring terrorism and permitting terrorist groups to act with impunity from within the borders of a State were not among the prerogatives of sovereignty. Indeed, sovereignty carried with it a responsibility not to acquiesce in the organization or preparation of terrorist acts within the territory of a State. In its resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1377 (2001), the Security Council had also reaffirmed the principle that no State should allow its territory to be used as a base for cross-border terrorist attacks.

57. It should therefore be abundantly clear that neutrality was not an option in the fight against terrorism. Many States still behaved, however, as if they could remain neutral in the war against terror, even as they granted sanctuary to terrorists and their supporters and permitted the free flow of terrorist funds and trafficking in the arms and equipment used in terrorist attacks. Such States were not neutral. They were accomplices to terror and must be made to pay the price. The international community must be willing to call terrorism by its name and place blame where it was due.

58. Terrorism was defined by what one did and not by why it was done. Moreover, there was no equivalence between those who engaged in terrorism and those who fought in self-defence. No principle of international law could ever justify the murder of innocent civilians and the admission of such a possibility merely invited terrorists to carry out their inhumane acts.

59. In contrast to the cowardice of the terrorists, who hid behind innocent children and families, the extraordinary courage of the States and peoples confronted with terrorism must be recognized. The international community should strengthen the hand of those States and their peoples and show them that they were not alone in the battle.

60. In response to the representative of the Syrian Arab Republic, who had lectured the Committee about terrorism the previous day, her delegation had hoped that the Syrian delegation would rise above the toxic rhetoric for which it had become known. As a State that actively harboured, supported, financed and encouraged terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, however, it would have been naïve to expect anything less from the Syrian Arab Republic. It was indeed surreal that a member of the Security Council should defy the Council’s resolutions, in particular those concerning terrorism, with impunity.


71. Mr. Diab (Lebanon), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that Israel was cynically exploiting the tragedy of 11 September to pursue its policy of occupying Palestinian territory under the guise of combating terrorism. It continued to deny Palestinians the right to self-determination, in defiance of international law and United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolution 425 (1978). It also continued its expansionist policies and the development and stockpiling of chemical, bacteriological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction, while blocking every effort to reach a just and lasting settlement of the problem in the Middle East. The Israeli occupation posed a threat to the territorial integrity of Lebanon and Hezbollah was exercising its right under the Charter of the United Nations to defend itself against foreign occupation.

72. Mr. Haj Ibrahim (Syrian Arab Republic), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that before the establishment of the State of Israel, terrorism had been virtually unknown to the international community. In the early days, a group of Jewish terrorists had attacked Palestinians who had been on the land for generations in an effort to force them to leave the country, committing massacres in the process. Those terrorists had not hesitated to attack the Administering Power; they had bombed the King David Hotel, murdered United Nations mediator Count Bernadotte and terrorized the international community and the United Nations. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s hands were drenched in the blood of those who had died at Sabra and Shatila, and innocent children had been killed in the Qana massacre in defiance of the United Nations and of international opinion.

73. The United Nations operated on the basis of international law and was engaged in its progressive development. It must therefore acknowledge that the systematic murder of Palestinians constituted extrajudicial execution; dozens of women and children had died as a result of Israeli attacks on populated areas. Many delegations had stressed that the right of peoples to self-determination and resistance to foreign occupation was a fundamental tenet of the United Nations. Foreign occupation was one of the worst manifestations of terrorism, and resistance to occupation was a means of combating such terrorism.

74. All the Security Council members had noted the constructive role played by his delegation in the efforts to combat terrorism and to ensure compliance with Council resolutions, particularly resolution 1373 (2001). Israel, for its part, had violated 29 such resolutions and had no intention of complying with the recently adopted resolution 1435 (2002); Israeli tanks and soldiers currently encircled Ramallah and other Palestinian cities. The representative of Lebanon had already countered the Israeli delegation’s remarks regarding Hezbollah, whose function was to remove the occupiers from Lebanese territory. Israel had expelled the Palestinians residing in Syria from their homes and forced them to leave the country; his Government was providing them with support, refuge and the right to plead their cause until they could return, as called for in the relevant United Nations resolutions.


76. Mr. Hmoud (Jordan), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the right of peoples to self-defence did not apply to acts of aggression committed by an occupier against the population of the occupied territory. The occupying party was obliged to respect the principles of international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and the First Additional Protocol thereto, and to refrain from acts of collective punishment, target killings and transfer of the occupied population to points outside the occupied territory or of its own population to that territory.


78. Ms. Schonmann (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the representative of Lebanon, who had spoken of the need for international legitimacy, should heed his own rhetoric. The Lebanese Government should fulfil its commitment to restore security to southern Lebanon and prevent terrorist groups such as Hezbollah from launching missiles across the border and from abducting and murdering Israeli soldiers and civilians. Lebanon allowed terrorists to build an infrastructure on its soil and failed to comply with Security Council resolutions. In particular, resolution 1373 (2001) required States to refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts and to prevent the movement of terrorist groups by effective border controls; Lebanon had also refused to freeze Hezbollah’s assets or to shut down the terrorist organizations operating in Beirut.

79. Mr. Samy (Egypt), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that he associated himself with the statement made by the representative of Jordan.


81. Mr. Diab (Lebanon), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that Hezbollah was a political party which participated in the economic and social life of his country and was represented in Parliament; it was also involved in the legitimate resistance to Israeli occupation on the other side of the Lebanese border. The representative of Israel had spoken of respect for Security Council resolutions but had said nothing of her own Government’s 20-year failure to comply with Security Council resolution 425 (1978). Lebanon fully observed the relevant United Nations resolutions; it condemned terrorism but supported the right of peoples to resist occupation. Israel spoke of respect for Security Council resolutions, yet its military aircraft routinely violated Lebanese airspace and, by flying over water, circumvented the direct surveillance of international forces.


The meeting rose at 1 p.m.

This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record.

Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.

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