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Goff Speech To Waikato Uni Colloquim On Terrorism

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Speech Notes

New Zealand And Humanity After The World Trade Centre Suicide Bombings


The world changed on September 11, 2001. We will probably never erase from our minds the dramatic images of the planes crashing into the World Trade Centre and the collapse of the twin towers. Nor can we forget the shock and disbelief we felt as we witnessed those events.

Terrorist attacks are not new. They have plagued many countries over the past few decades. What is new is the scale, the audacity, the coordinated efficiency and the utter indifference to the loss of human lives that marked the attacks on New York and Washington.

The message is chillingly clear. The world faces a new generation of terrorist attacks for which there is no bottom line. Those who care nothing about their own lives are also capable of much worse. Perhaps the next target will be a nuclear power plant. The effect of a fuel-laden aircraft crash in such an instance would be catastrophic, with deaths in the tens of thousands and an area rendered uninhabitable for decades.

The interest of the terrorists in crop-dusting planes and the latest anthrax attack indicates that biological and chemical terrorism is now also on the agenda.

Access by terrorists to biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction or enriched uranium to make crude nuclear weapons portend equally catastrophic consequences.

What might once have been characterised as a Hollywood fiction, has suddenly become a real and immediate possibility.

It is too soon yet to know what the full economic implications of the terrorist attack will be, other than the tens of billions of dollars cost incurred in the destruction of the planes and buildings, and the interruption of economic activity in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

The attacks took place when the major economies were moving into recession. Fear of future terrorist action and concerns that conflict could be prolonged are all likely to delay economic recovery.

Heightened international standards on border control and regulation may also impose significant costs. Together with creating fear of travel, this may have a negative impact on tourism growth, offset in our case by the possible advantages of New Zealand being seen as a safe destination.

The anthrax attack is a further example of how a terrorist activity can potentially disrupt part of the economy.

Malicious spreading of animal diseases such as foot and mouth and BSE by a terrorist group would also clearly have major implications, particularly in our own case.

It is no exaggeration to say that terrorism today has become the greatest threat to the world’s peace, prosperity and security.

New urgency now has to be given to creating an effective response to counter terrorism, and the international community has responded with unprecedented unity.

Resolution 1373 passed unanimously by the United Nations Security Council last month creates a binding obligation on member states to implement a series of measures deemed critical to the defeat of terrorist groups.

Resolution 1373 obliges countries to criminalise activities relating to the funding of terrorist acts. It calls for measures to freeze funds and assets of those involved in terrorism. And it requires states to prohibit fund-raising on behalf of, and the provision of financial and related services to, terrorists.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee is currently considering the Terrorism (Bombing and Financing) Bill I introduced in April, which will allow us to implement the UN Conventions for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and Financing of Terrorism.

The Bill as drafted criminalises the collection or provision of funds for use in any of the acts of terrorism that are defined in other anti-terrorist treaties.

It also provides for extra-territorial criminal jurisdiction over bombing and financing offences where the offender is in New Zealand or there is a New Zealand link to the crime.

This Bill is now being amended to implement those aspects of Resolution 1373 relevant to financing of terrorism.

I am discussing with the Select Committee changes to the Bill including a broader definition of terrorism, provisions which would allow for the immediate freezing of financial assets of persons designated as terrorists, and measures to outlaw recruitment into and participation in terrorist organisations.

The provision to freeze assets is a strong one. It needs to allow immediate action so funds cannot be transferred out of accounts. It will also however need safeguards so that a ministerial decision to do this is not arbitrary and can be subject to judicial review.

Closing off financing and support for terrorism right across the international community is seen as one of the most critical components in the campaign to defeat terrorism. New Zealand will carry out is responsibilities in full in this area.

With the passage of this legislation it will have implemented eight out of ten of the UN conventions against terrorism.

We will likely also implement the other two conventions though they are less relevant to New Zealand’s circumstances. We will also move to implement as soon as possible a new Comprehensive Terrorism Convention currently in draft form before the Sixth Committee of the United Nations. This is designed to close any gaps in the international legal framework against terrorism.

Other actions already planned will involve the implementation of the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the Protocols on the Illegal Smuggling of Migrants and Trafficking in Persons.

Given the link between drug smuggling, international organised crime and international terrorism, this will allow further effective action against sources of funding of terrorist activities.

It will also allow us to combat the other evils which it targets.

New Zealand already participates actively in the Financial Action Task Force which works to stop avenues for money laundering.

It is likely that the Task Force’s framework will be extended explicitly to capture terrorist financing. The work which New Zealand does regionally in the Pacific in this will be important.

New Zealand will participate fully in sharing intelligence to detect and prevent terrorist actions. Aviation security, border control and management of migrant security risk are all being subject to close scrutiny to ensure their effectiveness.

New Zealand is also intensifying its actions in multilateral forums to promote ratification by all counties of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions to reduce risk of access to such weapons by terrorists. New emphasis also needs to be given to prevent proliferation of nuclear materials for the same reason.

New measures are also needed to help bring terrorists to justice, which is why New Zealand has strongly endorsed the establishment of an International Criminal Court.

As well as suppression of terrorism, we need to tackle the causes which breed sympathy and support for terrorist actions.

There is now a new imperative to resolve the Middle East conflict, which demands flexibility and good will on both sides. A continuing hard line and disproportionate response by Israeli Prime Minister Sharon puts at risk the United States’ strategy to build and maintain a broad coalition of nations against terrorism.

The United States has worked hard to include Islamic and Arabic countries within the coalition against terrorism. There is no truth to terrorist allegations that the attack on them and the Taliban is anti-Islam.

Indeed it is worth remembering that the recent military actions by NATO and the US in both Bosnia and Kosovo was in defence of Moslem people under attack from groups who were nominally Christian.

However the mounting casualties of Palestinian people, disproportionate to the numbers of Israeli victims of violence, continues to undermine the strategy of inclusion.

The Mitchell Commission report offers a useful start to get the peace process moving again. The United States has the ability to put pressure on Israel to engage in this process and to make the concessions necessary.

Likewise, Arab countries would need to support Yasser Arafat to enable him to be flexible in reaching an agreement.

Regrettably, force is also a necessary component of the response to terrorists and those who deliberately harbour them.

Repeated resolutions by the United Nations against the Taliban providing refuge to terrorists and their training camps over the last three years have been ignored.

Given the fanaticism of the terrorists and their location in areas beyond the rule of law the use of force will be necessary in the short term to defeat terrorism. The purpose of force is not retaliation or revenge. Rather it is justified by the need to end the serious ongoing threat terrorists pose to the safety and security of others.

That force must be targeted and not used indiscriminately against civilian populations.

Last but not least, greater attention has to be paid to the needs of the Afghan people, four million of whom have been made refugees over recent years by war, drought-induced famine and the repressive Taliban government.

The restrictions imposed by the Taliban on humanitarian activity, including the detention of aid workers, and the threat of military attack have forced the UN and other aid agencies in Afghanistan to withdrawn their international staff.

The ongoing civil war and drought mean that around 6 million people are in desperate need of aid inside Afghanistan.

This number is likely to increase in present circumstances with a risk of deaths from starvation far in excess of any likely casualties from war.

Even before the current crisis, Unicef reported that one in every two children was malnourished and that one in four die before the age of five from preventable causes.

In the refugee camps, the figure is one in every three.

Added to this human cost are the other casualties of the Taliban regime – the weekly executions at the soccer stadium in Kabul, people crushed or stoned to death for homosexuality or adultery, girls and women denied access to education or work and the destruction of cultural heritage and technology for being non-Islamic.

The removal of the Taliban government would be a service to humanity but the longer this takes, the greater the cost in human lives.

Where possible, emergency relief is needed now.

The United States has set aside hundreds of millions of dollars in food and aid relief with smaller contributions coming from other countries including New Zealand.

The difficulty in the current circumstances is the effective delivery of that aid.

A major United Nations effort will be needed to work with the Afghan people to create an effective and democratic form of government to replace the Taliban regime and restore peace and human rights to the people of that country.

But the task will not be easy. It is at present not certain that the Taliban will be quickly removed. If the coalition is successful in bringing about the removal of the Taliban regime, the risk of further civil war and the balkanisation of the country is high. Clan, tribal, ethnic, linguistic, religious and regional divisions will complicate the task of building a national government.

It is important, however, that it is the Afghans themselves who do this. The history of Afghanistan suggests that no solution imposed from outside is likely to succeed and that the Afghans never unite so well as against foreigners.

A transitional government will need to be established which is broad-based and inclusive. It is not clear either whether the traditional practices like convening a loya jirga will be effective in the present climate after such a long period of civil war. Nor is it clear that former king Muhammed Zahir Shah is the figure around which any transitional government could coalesce.

The United Nations may be an acceptable facilitator but it will need to tread carefully in offering to assist the process. It could all too easily be seen as the outsider against whom the Afghans would unite – only to descend once more into civil war once the UN had withdrawn. For the UN to provide the transitional government, as it did in East Timor, may not for that reason be possible. Neither is a peace-keeping force a practical proposition as long as the country is still at war. Even when there was a peace to keep, its composition would need to take into account the Afghans’ sensitivities. But the United Nations may be able to play an arms-length facilitation role in bringing representatives of the various factions together to work out the way ahead.

Intervention by the international community will be difficult. However, given the danger of simply allowing matters to take their course and allowing another armed group to fill any vacuum left by the fall of the Taliban, it is essential that the UN plays a role in this regard.


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