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PM's Address at CEO APEC Summit in Chile

Rt Hon Helen Clark Prime Minister - Address at CEO APEC Summit

Santiago, Chile - Keeping the world safe: perspectives on global terrorism and regional responses

It is a great pleasure to be with you today, and an honour to share the platform with Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi of Malaysia, who, besides his high national responsibilities, plays key international roles as Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement and as Chair of the Organisation of Islamic Conference.

This morning’s topic is terrorism: that “global scourge with global effects” as Kofi Annan has called it. In its manifestations of the past three years, terrorism has brought death, disability, and trauma to many innocent people going about their ordinary business. It has created a climate of fear among communities worldwide, from those of the United States and Spain, to those of Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere.

Dealing with the threat of terrorism is placing significant costs on governments and whole economies. As well, it threatens the openness of our societies.

Of course, terrorism is not a new phenomenon – its threads have run through human history. Its most recent phase, however, is not merely local in its reach, as many of the terrorist movements and strategies of the last century were; now terrorism is global.

The attacks in September 2001 constituted an unforgettable trauma for the United States, and sent shock waves far beyond its shores.

Terrorists in this new era can and do use the very tools of global cohesion and prosperity – the internet, mobile phones, and the capacity to transfer resources rapidly – to attack and intimidate. The possibility that they might gain access to or be capable of developing weapons of mass destruction remains a cause of deep anxiety.

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Global Action

Post September 11, governments have had to improve their defences against international terrorism. While countries like New Zealand may not themselves be prime targets for terrorists’ attention, we are determined not to be a weak link in the chain. We do not want attacks on the citizens, interests, and assets of other states occurring on our patch.

Over the past three years the international community has swiftly put in place a comprehensive counter-terrorism framework. None the less, there is more to do to ensure the sustainability of the new measures; to complete, as well as ensure implementation of, the new legal framework; and to deepen our analysis of the root causes of what has happened and address them.

There is now a suite of twelve international anti-terrorism conventions. There are far-reaching new requirements against terrorists and terrorist financing which have been adopted by the Security Council.

Arrangements are in place for regular reporting on compliance with them to the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee. The Financial Action Task Force, and its related regional bodies, now monitor standards against terrorism financing, in addition to the earlier mandate against money laundering.

Many countries have, like New Zealand, changed their domestic laws to ensure compliance with their new international counter-terrorism obligations, and will continue to update them where necessary.

Like us, they have introduced a range of measures to implement the new international trade and transport security requirements, such as the International Ship and Port Security Code, and will ensure that they meet the forthcoming International Civil Aviation Organisation baggage screening requirements. We are all working to ensure that our border security and supply chain regimes are rigorous and meet exacting standards.

One should also not overlook the military action sanctioned by the Security Council against the Taleban and Al Qaeda. New Zealand, like others, has played its part in the effort to ensure that Afghanistan cannot again be a centre for terrorist operations.

Over the past three years we have deployed ground, naval, and air personnel and assets to that end. We continue to contribute to the restoration of stability in Afghanistan via our Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan, as well as through the provision of development assistance, and through training to the Afghanistan National Army.

There have been some important successes in Afghanistan, and the recent elections can certainly be counted as such.

There is still a long way to go, but the building blocks for stability, reconstruction, and development are in place. It is critical that the international community stays the course and honours the commitments made to the rebuilding of Afghanistan.

Compliance Costs

As I mentioned, there is a considerable financial cost to effective counter-terrorism measures. Business is well aware of that, although I believe also accepting of the need to secure trade.

But compliance has particular implications for the world’s micro states, in regions like the South Pacific. Most Pacific Island Forum countries are not members of APEC, but they do lie at the geographical centre of the Asia Pacific. In my role over the year to August as chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, I became acutely aware of the resource issues which the counter-terrorism agenda raises for the small Pacific states.

Pacific Island countries have for the most part very small populations and economies. Thus, their resources – technical, financial and human – are scarce. Even before the need came to be part of the new counter-terrorism agenda, these countries were stretched in dealing with their pressing economic, social, health, and environmental needs. The counter-terrorism requirements of the international community have for them a particularly high cost, given their many other pressing priorities.

While the direct threat of terrorism for Pacific Island countries is not high, there is a risk, as the Bali bombings tragically showed, even to remote and peaceful places. Pacific Island leaders have accepted that they have no choice but to commit themselves to the global effort to combat terrorism and to implement the internationally agreed anti-terrorism measures. International security regimes must ensure the safety of all the links in the chain, as people, goods and money move around the world.

These are not abstract concerns for the Pacific. Its states must be as alert as any to the problems of money laundering, threats to the integrity of passport systems, and the consequences for trade and tourism were they not to have adequate security at their borders.

Much can be done to help small states develop the capability they need for counter-terrorism. A Pacific Roundtable on Counter-Terrorism was held in New Zealand earlier this year to take stock of the region’s progress on implementing anti-terrorism measures and to assess capacity-building requirements. New Zealand and Australia, as close neighbours and Forum members, have been very willing to assist. We have helped with the drafting of model legislation to give effect to the new international requirements, and through technical assistance with the new transport security measures.

Regional bodies, as well as the regional branches of international agencies, are also working with them. The Pacific Island Forum Secretariat plays a vital co-ordinating role.

Despite the difficulties, I know that my Pacific Island colleagues want to meet their obligations and play their part in the international counter-terrorism effort. That is not without importance to this gathering, given the significance that terrorism has for business and its international operations. You will recognise the importance of avoiding having a gap in counter-terrorism measures and precautions in an area which geographically is at the heart of the APEC region, and in which many APEC economies are increasing their contacts.

Terrorism, as APEC leaders said last year in Bangkok, is a threat to APEC’s vision of free, open, and prosperous economies. We need to ensure that the measures we put in place to counter it do preserve, to the maximum possible extent, the values of freedom and openness, and do not unduly constrain our economic growth.

It is important that we operate – as Kofi Annan has emphasised – within the framework of the rule of law, and that the various counter-measures we put in place are as non-disruptive as possible and do not add unnecessary regulatory burdens or costs onto business.

Regional Responses

Now that APEC Leaders have put terrorism on their agenda, APEC economies need to deliver on that commitment. We have made some progress through the Counter-Terrorism Task Force (CTTF).

Initiatives like the Regional Movements Alert List (RMAL) suggest that it may be possible at the same time to make it harder for terrorists to move around the APEC region, yet easier for bona fide travellers. I hope New Zealand will be able to participate in the RMAL pilot.

While moving to counter terrorism, it’s also important to explore and address the root causes of its current phase. It’s not in the interests of our planet to have a proportion of the Muslim world deeply alienated from the West. And if the gap between rich and poor provides a context for terrorism, then fresh development, trade, and investment initiatives could help. If the intractable Israel-Palestine dispute provides a context, then moves to a peace settlement there would help too.

It may indeed be an unusually propitious time to push forward on a Middle East settlement. After the death of Yassir Arafat, the Palestinian people will elect a new leader. The change will create a new dynamic and an opportunity for new peace initiatives. We must all hope that the principal players seize this opportunity to make progress.

It is worth supporting efforts to promote dialogue between religious leaders of standing in our societies. Religion is the banner under which Al Qaeda and other terrorist groupings have chosen to wage their campaigns. My government supports the initiative being taken by Indonesia and Australia to have a sub-regional interfaith dialogue in Yogyakarta in December.

Its aim is to foster greater understanding and co-operation between religions represented in the participants’ countries, and to focus on practical ways of fostering inter-community relations. A multi-faith delegation from New Zealand will participate.

This dialogue of community leaders from fourteen countries should assist us not only to see more clearly what is happening across the fault lines which exist within and between societies, but also to understand better what can be done to bridge them. Perhaps the Yogyakarta meeting could be the forerunner for a wider exercise, which could include the whole of the APEC region. APEC, as the widest regional body, could be its natural sponsor.


The issues around terrorism are not simple.

Despite the tensions which have been generated over the invasion of Iraq, the international community continues to collaborate well on implementing the global counter-terrorism framework. Within APEC we should aim to implement measures which are based on the rule of law and which improve our security, while not creating unnecessary fiscal costs.

Economic development has the potential to lift not only the living standards of the people of our region, but also their hopes and aspirations. With that will come an even stronger commitment to stability and security, and to the trade and economic benefits of APEC. That will reinforce the nascent, yet growing, sense of community in the Asia Pacific, and help starve terrorism of the oxygen it needs to thrive.

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