20 January 2003
Security Council Urges More Action to Fight Terrorism
(Powell says war on terrorism must go on "as long as it takes") (1050)
By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent
United Nations -- The Security Council held a ministerial-level
meeting January 20 to emphasize the importance of the war on terror
and to call on all nations to take urgent action to combat the
Foreign ministers from 13 of the 15 nations who are members of the
council attended the half-day session, which was intended to increase
the pace of cooperation among nations and the monitoring of terrorists
activities. They unanimously adopted a declaration calling on nations
to take a number of steps to combat terrorism. The meeting was
initiated by France, which is presiding over the council during the
month of January.
The council also heard a report from British Ambassador Jeremy
Greenstock, the chairman of its Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) that
was formed as part of resolution 1373, which requires nations to
strengthen their laws and institutions and increase international
cooperation to fight terrorism. The resolution was adopted in the wake
of the September 11, 2001, attacks against the United States.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the war on terrorism
must be waged "at every level, with every tool of statecraft, for as
long as it takes."
Powell said that while the international community has made impressive
progress in the fight against terrorism, "the challenge before us is
to weave counterterrorism into the very fabric of our national
institutions and our international institutions."
The secretary praised Pakistani Foreign Minister Mian Khurshid Mahmud
Kasuri for his government's commitment to remain a key member of the
global coalition against terrorism and of efforts to hunt down
al-Qaeda and other terrorists.
"We must get every one of these terrorists and bring them to justice
or destroy them," he said.
Referring to comments on Iraq during the meeting, Powell said that the
council "must not shrink from our duties and our responsibilities"
when U.N. weapons' inspectors report to the council January 27 on the
efforts to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.
"We have much difficult work in the days ahead," Powell said, "but we
cannot shrink from the responsibilities of dealing with a regime that
has gone about development, acquiring, stocking of weapons of mass
destruction; that committed terrorist acts against its neighbors and
its own people; trampled human rights of its people and its
"So however difficult the road ahead may be ... we must not shrink
from the need to travel down that road. Hopefully there will be a
peaceful solution, but if Iraq does not come into full compliance we
must not shrink from the responsibility that we set before ourselves
when we adopted (Security Council resolution) 1441," he said.
"Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists or states that
support terrorists would represent a mortal danger to us all," he
said. "So we must make the United Nations even more effective. And we
must build even closer international cooperation to keep these weapons
out of the hands of terrorists."
CTC Chairman Greenstock said that for all the committee's progress in
monitoring and encouraging nations to take the necessary actions to
fight terrorism, "achieving real improvements in practice, on the
ground everywhere is taking too long."
Greenstock said that over the past 15 months the CTC received over 280
reports from 178 nations. The large number of reports shows that the
vast majority of governments have begun to respond to the challenge.
Thirteen nations have not submitted a report and two nations --
Liberia and Timor-Leste -- "have not yet even picked up the
telephone," he said.
Whatever their problems, the 15 nations must report by March 31 or
they will be not be in compliance with resolution 1373, Greenstock
Secretary General Kofi Annan said that the attendance of so many
foreign ministers shows "the steady determination of the international
community to address the scourge of terrorism" and is a sign of the
importance placed on dealing effectively with the global threat.
"The United Nations must play an increasing role in dissuading
would-be perpetrators of terror by setting effective international
norms and issuing a clear message on the unacceptability of acts of
violence targeting civilians," he said. "The United Nations must also
do whatever it can to deny terrorists the opportunity to commit their
The secretary general also warned nations, however, not to sacrifice
liberties and democracy or use the fight against terrorism to justify
"We are seeing an increasing use of what I call the 'T-word' --
terrorism -- to demonize political opponents, to throttle freedom of
speech and the press, and to de-legitimize legitimate political
grievances," he said. "... Similarly, states fighting forms of unrest
or insurgency are finding it tempting to abandon the slow, difficult,
but sometimes necessary processes of political negotiation for the
deceptively easy option of military action."
Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin of France presided over the
session. Other foreign ministers attending the session included Tang
Jiaxuan of China, Joschka Fischer of Germany, Jack Straw of the United
Kingdom, Igor Ivanov of Russia, Francois Louceny Fall of Guinea,
Francois Xavier Ngoubeyou of Cameroon, Jaoa Bernardo de Miranda of
Angola, Ana Palacio of Spain, Solomon Passy of Bulgaria, and Luis
Ernesto Derbez of Mexico.
The council adopted a declaration calling on nations to take a number
of steps to prevent and suppress all active and passive support of
terrorism. Nations should become a party to all international
conventions and protocols relating to terrorism; help each other to
the maximum extent possible to investigate, prosecute and punish
terrorist acts wherever they occur; and cooperation closely to fully
implement sanctions against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, especially
denying them access to financial resources.
The council said that nations must help each other bring to justice
those who finance, plan, support or commit terrorist acts or provide
safe havens to terrorists.
The council declared that "terrorism in all its forms and
manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to peace
and security" and said that "any acts of terrorism are criminal and
unjustified, regardless of their motivation."
Another meeting on terrorism is scheduled for March.
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
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