Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

31 March 2003

Ad Hoc Committee on Assembly
 Resolution 51/210
Seventh Session                                      
27th Meeting (AM)                                           


The General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Measures to Eliminate Terrorism opened its seventh session this morning with speakers outlining opposing views regarding several key provisions of an international comprehensive convention on terrorism, one of two draft treaties currently being elaborated by that body.

Established by the Assembly in 1996, the Ad Hoc Committee has the task of harmonizing international legal structures against terrorism.  So far, it has successfully negotiated two treaties:  the 1997 International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing, and the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. 

The Committee is also mandated to continue consideration of the outstanding issues on a convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, as well as to keep on its agenda the issue of convening a high-level United Nations conference to formulate an organized international response to terrorism.




MOHAMMED HAJ IBRAHIM (Syria) condemned terrorism in all its forms and called for cooperation among all States to take the necessary measures to prevent and combat it.  The war against international terrorism must take into consideration the principles of international law and must be waged in the context of international legality.  Daily crimes committed by Israel against Arab peoples in the occupied territories and the Golan Heights were terrorist crimes.  Israeli practices of State terrorism against the Palestinian people were illegal acts carried out under the pretext of self-defence.  The situation in Iraq was also increasing the number of terrorist activities.  What was now taking place outside of the Security Council represented an explicit violation of the Charter and international law and was destabilizing trust in international relationships. 

The Committee’s action, as well as that of the working group, represented a major step in waging the combat against terrorism, he said.  The draft comprehensive convention must fill the gaps not yet addressed in other conventions, namely a clear definition of terrorism, which distinguished between terrorism and a legitimate struggle of peoples against foreign occupation.  No exceptions must be made for acts taken by armed forces if they were not legitimate and under the United Nations Charter and international law.  On the issue of nuclear terrorism, Syria was ready to cooperate so that dangerous phenomenon could be eliminated.


TAL BECKER (Israel) said that he was compelled to respond to baseless allegations by Syria.  Israel supported the drafts submitted by India and the Russian Federation and the work invested in drafting effective law-enforcement instruments to combat terrorism.  Many recent acts of terrorism, including those involving suicide bombings, had been instigated by their glorification as martyrdom.  He objected to inserting politically motivated language in the draft conventions, making a difference between “good” and “bad” terrorism.  There had never been a terrorist group that did not try to justify its actions by some noble cause.  Nothing justified terrorism, and the text being elaborated in the Committee should not do so, either. 

The remarks he was responding to had come from a regime that had responsibility for many terrorist actions, he added.  In one of the most recent terrorist acts against his country, it had been the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which was based in Damascus, that claimed responsibility.  That highlighted the danger of adopting the language seeking to justify terror, instead of preventing it.  Considerable compromise had already been made in the negotiations on the general convention, and he rejected any further attempts to undermine the text.  Self-determination did not justify killing innocents in its name.  In the efforts to create a law-enforcement instrument, there should be no acceptance of those seeking to justify terrorist acts.


Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, Syria’s representative said the Committee had witnessed attempts to create confusion, saying that political issues should not be involved in the work of the Committee.  Some wanted to restrict the application of legal principles, including the Charter of the United Nations, when that suited their ends.  The representative of the Israeli occupying forces had tried to picture Israel as an innocent party, subjected to terror, while the State of Israel had been conducting organized terrorism.  

As the political history of that State demonstrated, several of its Prime Ministers had been involved in massacres.  The country’s present Prime Minister, for example, was wanted for the massacres committed at the time when he had been the Minister of Defence.  The cycle of Israel’s terror did not make any exceptions.  Recently, Israel had killed a young American activist who had come to the Middle East in the name of peace.  Using the newest technology, Israel had killed over 2,000 Palestinian civilians in the last two years.  After that, Israel then asked that the discussions in the Committee not be politicized.
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