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UN General Assembly Terror Session – UN News

UN General Assembly Terror Session Begins – UN News Reports

HEADLINES
- Annan says only an international campaign can rid the world of terrorism
- Terror attacks struck at UN and must spur action, Mayor Giuliani tells Assembly
- General Assembly opens weeklong debate on fighting international terrorism
- Chemical weapons treaty key to global efforts against terrorism, UN agency says
- World Bank warns that poverty will rise in wake of terrorist attacks on US
- UN expert urges more awareness of mercenary aspect of terrorism
- Top UN humanitarian official meets senior Pakistani, Taliban leaders on Afghanistan
- UN Population Fund launches emergency effort to save Afghan women


Annan says only an international campaign can rid the world of terrorism

1 October – Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged all countries of the world to join the international fight against terrorism, warning that without united, global action the effort would fail.

"Terrorism will be defeated if the international community summons the will to unite in a broad coalition, or it will not be defeated at all," the Secretary-General told the United Nations General Assembly as it opened a weeklong meeting on measures to combat international terrorism. "The United Nations is uniquely positioned to serve as the forum for this coalition, and for the development of those steps governments must now take - separately and together - to fight terrorism on a global scale."

The Secretary-General welcomed the Security Council's adoption late Friday of a broad resolution aimed at targeting terrorists and those who harbour, aid or support them. "I applaud the Council for acting so swiftly to enshrine in law the steps needed to carry this fight forward with new vigour and determination," he said, urging all States to support the effort.

Referring to the work of the General Assembly, Mr. Annan noted that it must give effect to the 12 UN treaties and protocols on international terrorism. He proposed that countries "make it their first order of business during the general debate to sign all the conventions on terrorism, and pledge to work for their ratification and implementation without delay." In addition, he urged States to forge agreement on a comprehensive convention against international terrorism.

Warning of other threats, the Secretary-General pointed out that a single attack involving a nuclear or biological weapon could kill millions. "While the world was unable to prevent the 11 September attacks, there is much we can do to help prevent future terrorist acts carried out with weapons of mass destruction," he emphasized, calling for redoubled efforts to implement key treaties relating to those arms, closer cooperation among international organizations dealing with them, and tighter national legislation covering the exports of goods and technologies used in their production.

While focusing his remarks on the fight against terrorism, Mr. Annan also called attention to the need to care for victims of that scourge, "whether they are the direct targets or other populations who will be affected by our common effort." In particular, he urged donors to support the recent UN humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan.

Seeking to draw lessons from the recent attacks, the Secretary-General said, "just as a concerted international response can make the work of terrorists much harder to accomplish, so should the unity born of this tragedy bring all nations together in defence of the most basic right - the right of all peoples to live in peace and security."


Terror attacks struck at UN and must spur action, Mayor Giuliani tells Assembly

1 October – Addressing the United Nations General Assembly before it opened its weeklong debate on measures to combat international terrorism, the Mayor of New York City, Rudolph Giuliani, today stressed that the recent terrorist attacks against the United States violated the UN's principles and must spur it to resolute action.

"This was not just an attack on the City of New York or on the United States of America; it was an attack on the very ideal of a free, inclusive and civil society," said Mayor Giuliani. "It was a direct assault on the founding principles of the United Nations itself," he added, pointing out that "this vicious attack places in jeopardy" the UN's whole purpose.

The Mayor said he had been heartened by the spontaneous response to the attacks demonstrated by the leaders and peoples of UN Member States. "Your support for New York and America, and your understanding of what needs to be done to remove the threat of terrorism gives us great, great hope that we will prevail," he said.

Mayor Giuliani said it was "tragic and perverse" that the US was under attack because of its ideals, while adding that "the best long-term deterrent to terrorism, obviously, is the spread of the principles of freedom and democracy and the rule of law and respect for human rights." Terrorists had no ideals, so their only response was to strike out at innocent civilians.

"The United Nations must hold accountable any country that supports or condones terrorism, otherwise you will fail in your primary mission of peacekeeper," he said, calling on the world body to ostracize any nation that supports terrorism, and isolate any nation that remains neutral in the fight against terrorism. "This is not a time for further study or vague directives," he said.

Mr. Giuliani challenged those who said that there were reasons for terrorism to "come with me to the thousands of funerals we're having in New York City - thousands - and explain those insane, maniacal reasons to the children who will grow up without fathers and mothers and to the parents who have had their children ripped from them for no reason at all." Instead, he said, UN Member States should "allow me to say at those funerals that your nations stand with America in making a solemn promise and pledge that we will achieve unconditional victory over terrorism and terrorists."

In his remarks welcoming Mr. Giuliani to the General Assembly, Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised the Mayor's efforts in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, saying that "we have drawn strength from your leadership, your resilience, your commitment to the tolerance and diversity that have made New York such a magnet and such an outstanding world capital."

The Secretary-General emphasized that the UN was united with New York in both its grief and its resolve to help those who have suffered, pointing out that UN staff had raised more than $100,000 for the relief effort while UN tour guides were volunteering for the American Red Cross.

Above all, Mr. Annan said, the UN was united with New York in its determination to root out terrorism. "If there is one message I took away from the tour of 'ground zero' you provided two weeks ago, it is that the world must come together to defeat this menace," he said.


General Assembly opens weeklong debate on fighting international terrorism

1 October – As the United Nations General Assembly today opened its weeklong debate on measures to combat international terrorism, countries from across the globe strongly condemned the menace while pledging to take specific and resolute steps to eradicate it from the world.

Numerous participants in today's debate advocated adherence to existing UN anti-terrorism treaties as well as the elaboration of new legal instruments to fight the menace. There was also broad support among the more than 20 speakers for the recently adopted Security Council resolution which lays out wide-ranging strategies to combat international terrorism. In addition, several participants put forward new proposals for galvanizing worldwide action in this effort.

Opening the debate the General Assembly President Han Seung-soo of the Republic of Korea said the fight against terrorism transcended cultural and religious differences. "We must never forget that terrorism is not a weapon yielded by one civilization against another, but rather an instrument of destruction through which small bands of criminals seek to undermine civilization itself," he said.

United States Ambassador John D. Negroponte said the struggle against terrorism would be lengthy and its progress would be erratic. "Already we see heartening results through effective law enforcement around the world, but this war won't be over until we shatter the global terrorists' ability to share information, techniques, personnel, money, and weapons," he said. "And as we dismantle the terrorists' ability to leverage their resources by cross-border subterfuge, we must also shut down their activities in each and every Member State." He added that the US did not feel alone in this effort. "In this great house of nations, we have many friends."

Speaking on behalf of the European Union (EU), Jean de Ruyt of Belgium said the EU would step up action against terrorism through a coordinated and interdisciplinary approach. Stopping the flow of funds for terrorism was a decisive aspect of the European policy, he said, pledging the EU's full support for all measures to combat any financing of terrorist activities.

For his part, South African Ambassador Dumisani S. Kumalo said his country would cooperate with all efforts to apprehend those responsible for the 11 September attacks and bring them to justice. "To the extent that the current investigations into these acts of terror may require concrete intelligence information that South Africa may have at its disposal, our security agencies will continue to co-operate with their US counterparts," he said.

Costa Rican Ambassador Bernd Niehaus stressed that the fight against terrorism must not oppress religious or ethnic minorities. "The war against terrorism does not justify the use of totalitarian methods nor it legitimizes the existence of dictatorial regimes," he said. "On the contrary, the fight against this scourge must follow closely principles of human rights."

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Ambassador of Egypt, said using Islam to justify crimes against innocent people was "a cause for deep sorrow." He also reiterated a proposal by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to convene an international conference on terrorism, emphasizing that this would be a great contribution to combating the scourge and calling on the Assembly to adopt a resolution setting in motion preparations for the event.

Mongolia's representative, Jargalsaikhany Enkhsaikhan stressed that his country's participation in international conventions against terrorism was based on its firm belief that international terrorism affected all and that all States, including those not directly affected, could make a difference. Terrorists could pursue their aims in or through small and weaker States, seeing in them the 'weak link' in opposing or fighting terrorism, he noted.

The discussion of terrorism, moved up from a later date because of the urgency of the issue, was convened at a time when the Assembly should have been holding its annual high-level debate. That debate, which annually attracts national leaders from around the world, was postponed because it would have been a drain on the New York City's security services at a time when they were already stretched while coping with the aftermath of the terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center.

Chemical weapons treaty key to global efforts against terrorism, UN agency says

1 October – The United Nations Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has urged countries to redouble their efforts to ensure the universality of the UN treaty against chemical weapons.

In a statement issued last Friday, OPCW's Executive Council unequivocally condemned the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States and expressed its condolences to the victims, their families, as well as to the US Government.

The 41-nation Council said it was convinced that the comprehensive implementation of the Convention would contribute to the reduction of the threat of chemical terrorism, thus assisting global efforts to combat all forms of terrorism. It appealed to all States to implement the treaty so that, in the words of OPCW's Director-General Jose M. Bustani, "no safe haven could harbour terrorists contemplating the use of chemical weapons."

The Council also urged States to comply with their obligations under the treaty, including the destruction of chemical weapons, and the prevention of the diversion and illegal use of chemicals and chemical technologies.

"The Council urges the States Parties to develop further means and measures to provide legislative support and assistance to States Parties in the enacting of enforceable, national legal provisions for the effective implementation of the Convention, which prohibits any natural or legal persons anywhere on their territory from undertaking any activity prohibited under the Convention," the statement said.


World Bank warns that poverty will rise in wake of terrorist attacks on US

1 October – The recent terrorist attacks against the United States will hurt economic growth in developing countries, condemning as many as 10 million more people to live in poverty next year while hampering the fight against childhood diseases and malnutrition, the World Bank said today.

In a preliminary economic assessment of the 11 September attacks, the Bank estimated that developing country growth would fall from 5.5 percent in 2000 to 2.9 percent in 2001 as a result of slowdowns in the US, Japan and Europe. An additional 20,000 - 40,000 children under five years of age could die from the economic consequences of the attack as poverty worsens.

"We have seen the human toll the recent attacks wrought in the US, with citizens from some 80 nations perishing in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania," said World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn. "We estimate that tens of thousands more children will die worldwide and some 10 million more people are likely to be living below the poverty line of $1 a day because of the terrorist attacks."

Already, there are signs that higher costs and reduced economic activity are putting a damper on global trade, according to the World Bank. Insurance and security costs and delays at customs clearance are among the main factors pushing up the costs of trade. Tourism has been hit exceptionally hard. The Bank estimated that 65 per cent of holiday trips booked for the Caribbean have been cancelled and warned that the Middle East is also likely to suffer a sharp decline in tourism revenues.

World Bank Chief Economist Nicholas Stern stressed that all countries must be vigilant to ensure a global rebound. He called for swift and bold policy responses because of the heightened level of risk to the global economy. "Maintaining world trade is more important than ever, especially in the face of an economic slowdown which is often accompanied by pressures for increased protectionism," he said.

The Bank pledged to "do its part," noting that its managers and staff - many of whom are stationed in developing countries - have been in contact with high-level officials to assure them of the Bank's continued commitment to deliver on previously agreed programmes, and to offer help in minimizing adverse impacts from the heightened uncertainty, risk, and volatility in the current global economic environment.


UN expert urges more awareness of mercenary aspect of terrorism

1 October – The involvement of mercenaries in terrorist acts should be reflected in United Nations analysis, follow-up and resolutions on terrorism, as well as in national legislation, according to a report to the General Assembly released today at UN Headquarters in New York.

In his report UN Special Rapporteur Enrique Bernales Ballesteros said his mandate should be broadened to allow him to not only study mercenary activities as a means of impeding the right of peoples to self-determination, but to also take into account other situations in which mercenaries are involved - including illicit arms trafficking, terrorism, organized crime - and the use of mercenaries by private security companies to intervene in countries' internal affairs.

On the issue of illicit arms trafficking, the Rapporteur said mercenaries, through their experience, were able to enhance the frequency and volume of illicit weapons deals. He advocated the development of legal instruments to facilitate prosecution of that crime and the mobilization of the political will of States to suppress the illicit traffic effectively.

The report also warns that more and more mercenaries are being hired by private security companies operating in the international market for deployment in armed conflicts, illicit trafficking and human rights violations. The Rapporteur said this situation underlined the need for regulation, prevention, control and oversight of such companies, and that regulatory mechanisms must be set up through national legislation, in coordination with, and with the support of, the UN.

On Africa, the Special Rapporteur recommended that the Assembly reaffirm its full support for the self-determination and human rights of the African peoples and condemn the mercenary activities that undermine such rights. The Assembly was also urged to alert diamond exchanges, associations of diamond merchants, States in which diamond-mining companies operate, and all others involved in the illicit trade in diamonds, to the evidence of unscrupulous business practices in the diamond trade and their role in Africa's armed conflicts. "It is well known that mercenaries are involved in the illicit activities carried out by such firms," the report states.

Mr. Ballesteros also recommended that the General Assembly urge Member States to ratify or accede to the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, which is one ratification or accession short of entering into force. "The entry into force of the Convention would facilitate the banning of such activities and create an international climate more favourable to self-determination and defence of human rights," the Rapporteur said.

Top UN humanitarian official meets senior Pakistani, Taliban leaders on Afghanistan

1 October – The top United Nations humanitarian official met with senior Pakistani and Taliban officials today, reassuring both of the world body's commitment to help with the impending humanitarian crisis in and around Afghanistan.

Speaking at a press briefing in Islamabad, Emergency Relief Coordinator Kenzo Oshima told reporters that he had given Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf a letter from Secretary-General Kofi Annan urging his Government to "welcome those unfortunate Afghan civilians who would be seeking safety" in Pakistan. The letter also assured the President of the UN's commitment to work in close cooperation with the Government.

Mr. Oshima, who was in the region at the request of the Secretary-General, also met earlier in the day with the Taliban Ambassador in Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, and reaffirmed the UN's commitment to help all Afghan civilians in need within the country. Mr. Oshima said that he insisted on guarantees by the Taliban authorities on the safety and security of humanitarian workers, the full restoration of communications and facilities, and the safe movement of relief goods within areas under Taliban control.

Meanwhile, thousands of Afghans waiting at the Pakistan border have reportedly left the area, either retreating further into Afghanistan and returning home or possibly seeking alternative routes out of the country, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today in a humanitarian update released in Geneva.

Between 10,000 and 20,000 Afghans had been waiting at the Charman border crossing near the Quetta region in Pakistan. UNHCR speculated that many, particularly those from Kandahar, may have left for other parts of Afghanistan or returned home. Others may be seeking alternate routes into Pakistan, possibly through lesser-used border crossings.

Despite the official closure of the border, thousands of Afghans have managed to cross into Pakistan in recent days. Those who did told UNHCR they had left for a variety of reasons, including fear of possible military action and fear of military conscription in Afghanistan, as well as the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country due to the civil war and serious drought.

The movements into Pakistan have prompted UNHCR to order additional relief supplies for the country. On Monday, four UN agencies met with 15 non-governmental organizations to coordinate humanitarian tasks in the region. Meanwhile, UNHCR's first relief flight into Iran was expected to arrive tomorrow, carrying the initial shipment of tents.

Over the weekend, a UN World Food Programme (WFP) convoy carried 200 tonnes of food into Kabul, the first shipment since deteriorating security conditions and lack of commercial transport forced the agency to halt deliveries on 12 September.

UN Population Fund launches emergency effort to save Afghan women

1 October – The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) announced today that it has started sending relief supplies to Iran and emergency funds to agency field offices in the region as part of its largest-ever humanitarian operation - a $4.5 million bid to stem the grave health crisis now facing Afghan women.

UNFPA is working to reduce the risks caused by lack of shelter, food and medical care facing thousands of pregnant women who are among the displaced Afghan civilians now massed along the country's borders.

To provide Afghan women with lifesaving reproductive health care services, the Fund is working to pre-position emergency relief supplies in the countries bordering Afghanistan. These are intended both for the large anticipated influx of refugees and for distribution inside Afghanistan, if possible.

"Without swift action on the part of donors and relief agencies, a terribly high number of Afghan women and girls are likely to die from easily treatable pregnancy complications," said UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid. "UNFPA's highest priority is to ensure that women have access to a safe delivery environment and are protected against sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy and violence."

The Fund's initial effort aims to include supplies to facilitate obstetrical care and protect essential hygiene, support for border area hospitals receiving referrals with pregnancy and childbirth complications, and counselling for victims of trauma. Longer-term assistance after the emergency phase will include training for local health-care providers and basic health education for women and young people.


ENDS

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