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

Fifty-fifth General Assembly
Sixth Committee
36th Meeting (PM)
22 November 2000


Syria and Lebanon, Abstaining, Say Resolution Should Have Drawn
Distinction between Terrorism and Actions of Liberation Movements

The General Assembly would strongly condemn persistent worldwide acts of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of the objective, and would call for joint international action to eliminate them, according to a draft resolution approved by the Sixth Committee (Legal) this afternoon, as the Committee concluded its current session.

The text, on measures to eliminate international terrorism, was approved by a recorded vote of 131 in favour to none against with 2 abstentions (Lebanon and Syria) (For details see Annex). By its terms, the Assembly would urge States not to finance, encourage, provide training for, or otherwise support terrorist activities.

States would be urged to become party to the various anti-terrorism conventions and protocols, including recent ones on suppression of terrorist bombings and on financing of terrorism, and to enact legislation to ensure the trial of offenders.

The General Assembly would have its Ad Hoc Committee on terrorism, which was established in 1996, meet from 12 to 23 February next year and also, within the framework of a working group of the Sixth Committee, from 15 to 26 October to continue work on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. The Ad Hoc Committee would consider those issues related to the draft international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism that had delayed its elaboration. Another topic on the agenda of the Ad Hoc Committee is the proposed convening of a United Nations sponsored conference to formulate an organized response to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

In explaining their abstentions, the representatives of Syria and Lebanon said the text should have drawn a distinction between terrorists acts and actions of liberation movements. Also speaking in explanation of vote were the representatives of Syria, Cuba, Pakistan and Iran.

Speaking in right of reply were the representatives of United States, Cuba, Israel, Syria and Lebanon.


Committee Work Programme

The Sixth Committee (Legal) met this afternoon to take action on the last remaining draft resolution on its agenda relating to "measures to eliminate international terrorism" (document A/C.6/55/L.17). The text was circulated among members last Friday, 17 November. (For further details of the draft, see Press Release GA/L/3174 of 21 November.)

Introduction of Draft

ANDRAS VAMOS-GOLDMAN (Canada) introduced four amendments to the draft resolution.

The first was to delete the word “relevant” in the second preambular paragraph of the draft text for it to read: “Recalling all General Assembly resolutions and Security Council resolutions on measures to eliminate terrorism.”

In the second amendment, the following would be added at the end of the seventh preambular paragraph of the text (which deals with strengthening cooperation between States and international agencies): “in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and relevant international conventions”.

The phrase “and other initiatives” would be added at the end of the tenth preambular paragraph (which notes recent declarations by the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries).

Finally, in operative paragraph 3 (which calls on States for further measures against terrorism), there would be added the words: ”the Charter of the United Nations and the relevant provisions of international law”.

Action on draft

The representative of Syria, speaking in explanation before the vote, reaffirmed his country’s condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. However, he said, it was necessary to distinguish between terrorism -- which was a crime -- and the legitimate struggle against foreign occupation, whose legitimacy was recognized under the United Nations Charter and international law. Syria had cooperated in a constructive spirit up until the last moments of the negotiations, in order to have sensible amendments included to strike the proper balance in the draft. The draft submitted had not taken Syria’s main concerns into account, namely, the distinction between acts of resistance to foreign occupation and acts of terrorism. Syria had therefore requested a vote on the draft and would abstain. He regretted that it had not been possible to reach a consensus.


The Committee then approved the draft, as orally amended, by a vote of 131 in favour, to none against, with 2 abstentions (Lebanon and Syria). (for details of vote see Annex)

The representative of Lebanon, said his abstention was based on Lebanon’s position that there should be a distinction between criminal terrorist acts and acts of people fighting against foreign occupation and for self-determination. It was the inalienable right of peoples to restore their independence and sovereignty. The draft resolution had not reflected that viewpoint. The text would have adverse effects.

He said Lebanon strongly condemned all acts of terrorism, including organized violence such as murder, the taking of hostages and aircraft hijacking, and his delegation was willing to cooperate towards the achievement of the objective of fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

He said Israeli occupation and actions against Palestinian civilians remained one of the worst forms of terrorism and must be condemned. There had also been Israeli massacres of Lebanese civilians. He insisted that a clear definition of terrorism was required, and that the criteria for that purpose must be established.


Rights of Reply


AARON JACOB (Israel) said that in light of the accusations launched against his country, he felt compelled to respond. He spoke of the Monday bombing of a school bus carrying 30 children and today’s detonation of a car bomb beside a local bus in the heart of Israel. He said the response of Syria and Lebanon to those tragic events was to somehow present those acts as justifiable, if they were perpetrated in the name of national liberation. Such acts were blatant and gross violations of international law and United Nations resolutions. It was disingenuous in the extreme to portray the situation as attacks against defenceless Palestinian children. Israeli soldiers had been responding to 1,300 recorded armed attacks. He renewed his country’s call for a categorical rejection to any resort to violence and for the resumption of dialogue. He said the representative of Lebanon should remember that in accordance with the Security Council resolution, Israel had withdrawn fully from Lebanon, and yet Lebanon had not fulfilled its obligations under that same Council resolution.

GHASSAN OBEID (Syria) said Israel should respect and heed international law and international humanitarian law. Israel did not respect international legality. It must withdraw from the territories it occupied. Israeli attacks had resulted in the deaths of 250 Palestinian martyrs. An investigative team had been dispatched to the region by the Secretary-General. He said the international media had daily shown pictures of Israeli attacks on children cuddled in the arms of their parents, including a little boy who had been shot dead in the arms of his father. He observed that a German doctor, who was not a terrorist, had also been killed recently.

HOUSSAM ASAAD DIAB (Lebanon) said the Israeli representative had chosen to forget that his country occupied Arab lands, contrary to the United Nations Charter, international law and international humanitarian law. Resistance to occupation was not terrorism as described by the Israeli delegate. He spoke of an Israeli attack on a United Nations outpost in which Lebanese civilians who had sought refuge there had been casualties.

Mr. JACOB (Israel) said the fact that Syria and Lebanon were the only countries to vote against the text spoke volumes about their position. He expressed appreciation to the Chairman of the Sixth Committee for the achievements of the session which could be built upon. He said the success showed the spirit of professionalism that prevailed during the session.

Mr. OBEID (Syria) pointed out that his delegation had abstained in the vote. He said no international terrorism compared with Israel’s. He noted that the Economic and Social Council had this morning condemned the violations of human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel.

Mr. DIAB (Lebanon) said it was regrettable that the representative of Israel had not understood their abstention in the vote, which did not mean that they were opposed to it. Their abstention was a reflection of their regret that the text did not distinguish between terrorist acts and actions against foreign occupation. The text “opened doors to wrong interpretations by occupying forces”. That distinction must be drawn, he said.


Vote on Measures Against Terrorism

The draft resolution on measures to eliminate international terrorism (document A/C.6/55/L.17), as orally amended, was approved by a recorded vote of 131 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions:

In favour: Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia.

Against: None.

Abstain: Lebanon, Syria.

Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Chad, Congo, Croatia, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Federated States of Micronesia, Gabon, Gambia, Grenada, Guinea, Jamaica, Kiribati, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nauru, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Suriname, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe.

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For information media - not an official record