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U.S. Pushes To Strengthen U.N. Terrorism Statement

U.S. Moves To Strengthen U.N. Terrorism Statement

United States suggests changes to 60th anniversary summit document

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations – Emphasizing the importance of fighting terrorism, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton is urging the inclusion of stronger anti-terror language among the U.S. recommended changes to the document being prepared for the United Nations' 60th Anniversary Summit.

In a letter to ambassadors of the other 191 U.N. member states, Bolton said, "a clear, strong declaration on terrorism will bolster our common efforts to preserve peace and security. A statement that will contribute to the timely adoption of the proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism would represent a significant achievement in the U.N.'s global effort to counter terrorism."

More than 170 heads of state are expected to attend the summit September 14-16, and a final document is being prepared under the leadership of U.N. President Jean Ping of Gabon. It focuses on all issues before the world organization from poverty to peacekeeping, human rights, and reform of the U.N. bureaucracy. (For additional information, see The United Nations at 60.)

During the three-day summit, the Security Council is also planning a session highlighting terrorism. President Bush is expected to join the heads of state of the other 14 members of the Security Council in a public meeting on the issue.

Since President Ping introduced the draft Outcome Document for the upcoming United Nations’ 60th Anniversary Summit, the United States has been suggesting changes to some of the proposals in the document, as have other nations. The United States wants the U.N. General Assembly to adopt a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, which has been under negotiation for close to 10 years.

As Ambassador Bolton wrote to his General Assembly colleagues, “A statement that will contribute to the timely adoption of the proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism would represent a significant achievement in the U.N.’s global effort to counter terrorism.”

The revisions recommended by the United States focus on the eight paragraphs in the 40-page final document that deal with terrorism. The revisions involve subtle but critical changes to the wording which, according to Bolton, will not pre-judge the upcoming work of the General Assembly in finalizing the treaty or decisions on Secretary-General Kofi Annan's counterterrorism strategies for the United Nations.

The draft declaration condemns terrorism "in all its forms and manifestations, as it constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security."

The United States wants the declaration also to affirm that "the targeting and deliberate killing by terrorists of civilians and non-combatants cannot be justified or legitimized by any cause or grievance" and that "any such action intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants, when the purpose of such an act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population or to compel a government or an international organization to carry out or to abstain from any act cannot be justified on any grounds and constitutes an act of terrorism."

The United States endorses language supporting the efforts of individual nations "to assist victims of terrorism to provide them and their families with support to cope with their loss and their grief."

The declaration also has the world leaders support the early entry into force of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, which opens for signature in September, and urges nations that have not done so to accede to the 12 other international conventions and protocols against terrorism without further delay.

Bolton, who became the chief U.S. envoy to the United Nations August 1, has moved quickly to reinforce U.S. suggested changes to the draft. The United States has been discussing suggested changes to the draft for many months.

"We have been in consultation on this issue for months on the proposed changes to the text," Bolton told journalists August 25. "Our hope is to have a strong consensus document for the high-level event."

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