Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Letter To All Member States Of The United Nations

URGENT ACTION Re: General Assembly Meeting

Dear friends,

We would like to inform you of a matter of extreme importance and urgency. As many of you know by now, the Security Council of the United Nations quickly adopted a resolution no. 1373 (2001) which requires all states to take sweeping measures to 'combat' terrorism and opens the door to the use of force as one means of doing so. The text of this resolution can be found at

While passing resolutions aimed at maintaining or restoring international peace and security is the primary responsibility of the Security Council, it is a responsibility that must be discharged with utmost care and diligence ensuring that such actions do not pose a further threat to the international community.

While some aspects of the current Security Council resolution are commendable and will go a long way in dealing with terrorism, there are other aspects which have the potential to cause further threats to international peace.

One alarming aspect of the resolution is that terrorism is not defined for purposes of the resolution which mandates sweeping measures to combat terrorism. On the issue of the lack of a consensus about what terrorism is, Britain's UN Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock simply said: ``for most of the time, if something looks like a terrorist and makes a noise like a terrorist, it's a terrorist - and we now know what to do about it in terms of what we set out in this resolution.''

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Another matter of concern is the manner in which this resolution was passed. Since the September 11, 2001 attack on the WTC and the Pentagon, the United Nations has heightened security around its building. NGO access to the building is restricted. As such there was no presence of civil society to know what was going on and intervene in the process. Some who had information on the impending resolution understood the resolution would be passed on Monday Oct.1, 2001.

However, the resolution was hurriedly passed on Friday evening. Clearly, the US wanted the full support and backing of the United Nations to any actions or use of force against any states they claim to be responsible for the September 11, 2001.

A high-level debate on terrorism is scheduled IN the General Assembly on Monday and Tuesday October 1-2, 2001. In light of this rushed resolution by the Security Council, it is now even more important that states hear from people from their respective countries of the danger some of the language of the Security Council poses to international peace and security and of its potential interpretation to seriously curtail civil, political and human rights of asylum seekers, refugees and other members of minority groups internationally.

We reproduce below a statement that we plan to send by email and/or fax to member states of the United Nations by evening of September 30, 2001. We ask you to either sign on to this letter or draft your own with a few points as bottom line i.e. danger of Security Council sanction of use of force to combat terrorism, urge primacy of rule of law and resolution of international issues through justice and courts of law. We ask that you send the letter to your government mission at the United Nations and to all fifteen members of the Security Council.

The contact information of the members of the Security Council is reproduced below. You will find the email address of your government missions at New York and Geneva at

We further ask that you send this urgent action alert to networks in your own countries to generate as many individuals and organizations to send emails to your respective missions.

Through these actions we hope to get governments to qualify the Security Council resolution so as not to interpret the resolution as a sanction for any states to use force unilaterally to combat terrorism.


-------------- Letter to all member states of the United Nations

While some aspects of Security Council resolution 1373 (2001), which was hurriedly debated and passed on September 28, 2001, are necessary and appropriate to address terrorist acts, certain aspects of the resolution give cause for concern.

First among those concerns is that the resolution details sweeping measures to combat terrorism without defining what terrorism is. In light of the differing opinions among the international community as to what constitutes terrorism, we are extremely concerned that the open-endedness of the resolution is vulnerable to abuse. Further, we are concerned that parts of the resolution could be used to justify:

· Independent actions by states, acting singly or in concert but outside the direction and command of the United Nations, against alleged perpetrators of terrorism and/or states allegedly supporting such acts (Preamble para 5 and para 3 ( c ));

· Serious curtailment of civil, political and human rights of citizens and persons, in particular, refugees, immigrants and other individuals presumed to have such status or be from targeted minority groups (para 3 (f & g)).

A critical question -- for which history will hold the United Nations accountable and judge the efficacy of its mission--is whether the world community will endorse the use of force rather than the processes of justice and the rule of law. The world community is poised to usher into being, for the first time in history, an International Criminal Court. The ultimate goal of such Court is to try the perpetrators of crimes against humanity and other international crimes. The approval of the Rome Treaty and the speed with which states are ratifying that treaty attests to the importance of substituting justice for force as a primary means to ensure peace and security.

History has demonstrated that to meet violence with violence rather than the rule of law perpetuates the cycle of violence. By contrast, the hope of this new millennium is that justice can substitute for violence and thus break that deadly cycle. To those who committed the September 11 attack, the authorization of a violent response is precisely the victory they seek. By contrast, those who condemn this barbarous act must defy those expectations and stand for justice, and through justice, the restoration of peace and respect for the rule of law.

As an organization that represents the rights and needs of women, we must insist upon the fact that the most numerous victims of war are the women and children. They represent the overwhelming majority of those amassed now at the borders of Afghanistan; it is the women and children who are the majority of the civilian population murdered, raped and otherwise brutalized in time of war.

The response to such threats as represented by September 11 must give primacy to the rule of law and be vested in an international body such as the United Nations and not in individual nations or collectivities of nations. We therefore call on the members of the General Assembly to set precedents in the interpretation of the Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) and pass a declaration qualifying the interpretation of the Security Council resolution as follows:

· it does not sanction the use of force and repressive measures to combat terrorism

· it primarily seeks justice in international and domestic courts for acts of international terrorism

· it calls upon states to be guided by principles and processes of international law in their pursuit of justice, including the detailing of charges, the issuance of international warrants and requests for extradition, the arrest of the accused and the provision of due process

· it lays emphasis on states becoming parties to, implementing and using the international conventions on prevention and combating of terrorism . emphasizes the need to ensure that all actions taken to identify, prevent and punish terrorism are consistent with the protection of political and civil rights, including the prevention of discrimination and protection of minorities.

While passing resolutions aimed at maintaining or restoring international peace and security is the primary responsibility of the Security Council, it is a responsibility that must be discharged with utmost care and diligence ensuring that such actions do not pose a further threat to the international community.

The United Nations was founded to save succeeding generations from the 'scourge of war.' In carrying out its responsibilities to maintain or restore international peace and security at this moment in time, the Security Council must find the appropriate balance between measures which will truly address this heinous form of violence and those which will exacerbate and perpetuate the breach of international peace and security.

The General Assembly at crucial moments in the history of the United Nations has take important steps in the absence of Security Council action or clarify counsel action. We urge all member states to take the above into consideration during the debates on terrorism taking place Monday and Tuesday, October 1-2. At this critical moment, it is necessary that the General Assembly carefully reflect on its own important role in the maintenance of international peace and security.


-International Women's Human Rights Law Clinic, New York -Women's Caucus for Gender Justice, New York

# # #

Contact Information for Security Counsel Members (email addresses listed when available)

Singapore tel:212-826-0840/0841 fax: 212-826-2964

Tunisia - tel: 212-751-7503/7534 fax: 212-751-0569

Ukraine - -tel 212-759-7003 fax:212-355-9455

United Kingdom - tel: 212-745-9200 fax: 212-745-9316

United States - tel:212-415-4000 fax: 212-415-4443

Bangladesh- tel: 212-867-3434/212-972-1267 fax: 212-972-4038

China- tel: 212-655-6100 fax:212-634-7626

Colombia- tel: 212-335-7776 fax: 212-371-2813

France- m tel: 212-308-5700 fax: 212-421-6889

Ireland-tel: 212-421-6934 fax: 212-752-4726

Jamaica-tel:212-935-7509 fax: 212-935-7607

Mali-tel: 212-737-4150/794-1311 fax: 212-472-3778

Mauritius-tel: 212-949-0190/0191 fax: 212-697-3829

Norway-tel: 212-421-0280/0281 fax: 212-688-0554

Russian Federation-tel: 212-861-4900/4901 fax: 212-628-0252/517-7427

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.