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March 10, 2005
Moderator: Antonio Vitorino
Panellists: Anand Panyarachun, Amre Moussa, Gareth Evans, Satish Nambiar, Kenneth Roth.
Respondent: Robert Badinter, Enrique Iglesias, Javier Rupérez, João C. Baena Soares.
The session on the UN High-Level Panel Report heard from several of its members. There was a strong feeling that the political deadlock on the issue of terrorism, which hindered effective action at the international level, needed to be broken, and that the recommendations made in the UN report could provide a winning formula. This was particularly true for the panel’s proposed definition of terrorism, which –in the words of one panellist– met both political and moral imperatives. Most panellists agreed that the fight against terrorism had wider political, economic and social dimensions, and that all these needed to be tackled by the UN to retain its credibility as an effective arbiter of international peace, security and justice.
Complete audio of the conference
- UN High Level Panel Report
- Audio Archive (English) [1h. 26m., 20 MB, MP3]
Transcription / Transcripción
Note: […] Means not audible or missing content from the original tapes because of the recording
Nota: […] Significa no audible o que falta contenido en la cinta original debido a la grabación
The UN High Level Panel report is a very fortunate one because several members of the Panel are here […] since they are no longer members of the Panel, the Panel does not exist any longer, they will speak in their own personal capacity. I think if we could anticipate what the conclusions of this debate will be… we all agree that the UN should be at centre stage in dealing with terrorism. We all agree, I believe, that the fight against terrorism should stick to the rule of law, both nationally and internationally. But the Panel recommends us to develop our efforts towards a UN […] on terrorism and provides us with a definition of terrorism. We all agree that this is one of the most difficult issues and therefore I would invite the members of the Panel to reflect on the definition and on the added value of such a comprehensive convention in the UN framework.
And furthermore, what kind of confidence-building measures should be implemented in order to create momentum for the adoption of such a comprehensive convention? At the same time, can those confidence-building measures be taken without deep thought on the deep root causes of terrorism and the horizontal points that are involved in addressing the deep root causes of terrorism. And finally, are we striking the right balance between security and the protection of civil liberties? Isn’t there a danger in the fragmented approach to terrorism to undermine the values of the rule of law and the respect for fundamental rights that are common to us all. These are a few of the questions that I would like to raise in the introduction so that we can take on board some of your thoughts for the conclusions for the Madrid agenda. And thanking your presence here and thanking the members of the Panel, I think that for a Caucasian European, I think that the best (thing) is to give the floor to Anaud Panyarachun, who was the Chairman of the Panel and former Prime Minister of Thailand. Thank you.
Thank you very much, Chairman. On this table we have four of my former colleagues of the High-Level Panel and I’m sure that their such good contributions to my statement would […] It’s not my intention to give a generalised (view) of what we have discussed on the question of terrorism and I think, as a preliminary, perhaps I should also advance to you an observation that we have kept to our discussion of the Panel that when we talk about threats to international peace and security, we always avoid the interconnectedness of all these. Our Panel’s mandate was to access the threat and evaluate the challenges and then to make recommendations for changes, and I was honoured to have served as Chairman of that Panel created by Kofi Annan. Myself and fifteen other colleagues from all over the world accessed the future security threat and made recommendations for reform of collective security. Our job was to officially complete and present our report. Our report’s named “A More Secure World”. Our report leaves no doubt that we live in a world of new and evolving threats that could not have been anticipated when the UN was founded in 1945. Threats like nuclear terrorism and state collapse […] poverty, disease and civil war. While we did not go very deep on the question of the root causes of terrorism, we had very wide and general discussion about these issues and we emphasised the interconnectedness. We also found that in spite of the emerging threat perceptions across regions […] in which security threats are interconnected in an unprecedented way, never before were the threats of the rich and the poor, of the more or less powerful so linked. In today’s world, a threat to one is a threat to all.
Just take the threat of terrorism. Throughout the last year in our meetings with government, our civil society representatives from the developing world, we have repeatedly heard the view that has a perception shared by many, that terrorism is only a threat to the Western world. But if you look at it from a practical point of view, you’ll find that the many victims of the terrorist attacks in Bali, Indonesia, Casablanca, Karachi, Bombay, Jerusalem, Nairobi can tell you firsthand. But it doesn’t end here. World Bank estimates tell us that around ten million additional people were thrown into poverty as a result of 9/11 because of the long economic downturn that followed. Just imagine what would happen, what the consequence would be should terrorists detonate a nuclear weapon anywhere in the industrial world. There is no doubt that this would endanger the livelihoods of millions in any part of the world.
The good news is that the United Nations and our collective security institutions have shown that they can work. The United Nations have proved, at times, effective in preventing and ending civil war, in limiting proliferation of nuclear weapons and in acting positively against terrorism. We all know that there is no reason for complacency. The UN has experienced tragic failures in the past and there are new threats which require the UN to attack. We have no choice but to harmonise to reform the United Nations so that we can respond more effectively to the full range of threats that confront all of us today.
Our High-Level report puts forward to 101 specific recommendations so that we can address all threats to international peace and security more effectively, through civil and eternal and international wars over socio-economic security threats, to weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and transnational organised crime. I won’t use too much time here on elaborating all the recommendations the report makes, so let me focus on the recommendations the report makes on the threat of terrorism.
The Panel report recognises the important steps the United Nations has undertaken against terrorism. For instance, it was under the roof of the United Nations that twelve anti-terrorism conventions were negotiated and adopted. They provide an important legal framework in the fight against this scourge. The Security Council too have […] to confront terrorism, to enforce action and has imposed sanctions on state sponsors of terrorism and on international terrorist groups, and it has imposed mandatory counter terrorist obligations on all states and established a counter terrorist committee to monitor implementation. Yet, in our view, the United Nations has not done all that it can or all it should. We felt that United Nations has not made full use of its known setting potential. Most importantly, we found that the inability of the General Assembly to agree on a definition of terrorism that would form the basis of an anti-terrorism convention undermines the moral authority of the United Nations.
The Panel felt that now it was time that the General Assembly stepped up to the plate and found an agreement on the definition of terrorism. Indeed it is among the panel’s significant achievements if we could agree on such a definition, in spite of the fact that I, and my fellow panel members, who are from very different backgrounds representing all parts of the world, we were able to move beyond the old counter arguments over state terrorism and […] We found that use of force by states is officially regulated through existing treaties, such as the Geneva Convention, and we strongly agree that the right to resist occupation […] legitimate in every scene does not include the right to target and attack civilians or non-combatants. Indeed a definition put forward by our Panel made clear that there is no cause under the sun that could justify the deliberate killing of civilians.
Finally, the High-Level Panel urge the Security General to put forward a comprehensive strategy against terrorism based on the principle message that the killing of civilians is unjustifiable irrespective of circumstances. The Security General has announced he intended to present this strategy to us here this afternoon and I applaud the Security General for his leadership on this issue. Thank you.
Thank you so much. Now I give the floor to Gareth Evans from the International Crisis Group.
May I supplement the Chairman’s general introduction by focusing very specifically on the four main recommendations made by the High-Level panel and explaining the interrelations between them as they affected terrorism.
The first was to have a comprehensive strategy on a global reach and international level. One that addresses, within the framework, of course, with respect for the law and human rights, not just the policing, intelligence and military dimensions of this which also preoccupy policy makers so far, but also the issue of causes and facilitators of terrorism and political grievances including occupation by outsiders and oppression by insiders, and the poverty and the unemployment which are so often contributors to the human despair and sense of hopelessness, which are fertile breeding ground or recruiting ground for terrorists. So the object, initially, was to recommend all of this be put within a single comprehensive framework strategy and as Chairman Anand has said, we made particular recommendation to the Security General that he played a leadership role in this respect, and we’ll hear the first ‘shots fired’ in that context in his speech this afternoon.
The second recommendation was that we need better counter terrorism instruments than we have available at the moment. There’s no great controversy about what’s actually required here and, in fact, the elements are just about all there already in the twelve UN anti-terrorism conventions that have already been concluded, in the OECD recommendations on money laundering, on the various specific UN Security Council resolutions 1373 [?] 1566, and so on, that were passed after 9/11 and are designed to fill various gaps in the enforcement repertoire, in existence already with the Counter Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council and, of course, in the availability of sanctions against states or individuals that support terrorism.
The basic problem is not so much the existence of all these rules in a very scattered form, but compliance and implementation. There are far too many states that are outside the present contentions still, there are far too many states that are within the conventions but haven’t yet adopted the necessary mechanisms to make them realistic and workable on the ground. The Counter Terrorism Committee has only limited resources and capacity to really effectively monitor compliance with all these various rules around the place, and its mandate in terms of support and capacity, extends only to technical systems, not to provision of significant financial resources. Moreover, the UN Security Council has been rather reluctant to deploy sanctions as a weapon in all the various occasions where this option has arisen.
So that leads on naturally to the two remaining big recommendations that the Panel made. Recommendation category three was assisting states effectively in confronting terrorism and the need here, as I’ve just said, it seems to be much more than just the provision of technical assistance, is actually resources that are required and, at the moment, because of the limitation on the mandate and the capacity of the intergovernmental system itself at the UN level, that assistance has to be provided by states. That’s fine and that’s where most of it is going to come, but it could certainly be supplemented, the Panel argue, by an expanded mandate in this respect for the Counter Terrorism Committee and the executive director underneath in and, in particular, we argued for the creation of a capacity-building trust fund under that directorate in order to effectively mobilise resources of this kind.
The remaining recommendation, and the capstone I suppose of everything we’ve been saying, was for a new comprehensive convention containing a clear definition of terrorism. The panel made it really quite clear, I think, that the need here was again, not so much a legal one, because most of the necessary prohibitions and obligations are already set out in those twelve conventions and various other treaties and agreements and UN Security Council Resolutions. The need is rather a political and a moral one: to create a new momentum for commitment, a new momentum for compliance, a new momentum for general policy energy in this area by creating a new source of international moral authority for the struggle against terrorism.
The Panel put it very succinctly when we said that the international community, through the United Nations, already has a clear narrative, has a clear normative framework when it comes to governing the state use of force. What it does not have, at the moment, is any such clear narrative, any such clear normative framework for the non-state use of force, and it needs one so that the United Nations can really exercise moral authority and normative leadership, so that it can state clearly and unequivocally that terrorism is never an acceptable tactic, even for the most defensible causes. So the key to making this all work in creating a new momentum, creating a new source of international moral authority is, of course, getting the definition right because this is what has held up the conclusion of any such treaty so far, despite years and years of negotiations.
The text of the Universal Treaty, pulling together all these elements that are scattered around, is pretty much complete. Where it’s been stuck is on this question of definition. So that’s the issue, as Anand said, that the Head of the Panel took head on. We did, I think, reach a consensus on all this, albeit a rather hard one, to make a major contribution to breaking that log jam.
There are three familiar problems standing in the way of getting agreement of a definition. There are those that argue, first of all, that any definition should include explicit reference to the state use of force against civilians, it ought not to be just based on the issue of non-state activism. There are those, secondly, who argue that any definition should somehow make provision for freedom fighters, this resisting occupation, and acknowledge the legitimacy of that kind of action which is governed by that kind of motive. And, thirdly, there are those that come at the issue from the other end and say that any such definition of terrorism should in fact be broader and so as to include violence, not just against civilians and non-combatants, but against certain classes of uniformed personnel and officials.
Now with those three currents running you’ve got the makings, obviously, of a stalemate of the kind that we’ve seen. What we tried to do on the Panel, and I think what we succeeded in doing, is cutting through that and coming up with a definition which basically gets to the point. It does contain a number of perambulate provisions setting the context, provisions which make clear the state use of force against civilians is already regulated by the Geneva Conventions, and a whole body of international law, but that’s explicitly acknowledged and recognised as part of the statement of the definition itself. The statement also acknowledges that all existing definitions, scattered round existing conventions, some of which do have a minor ambit and do extend to certain classes of uniformed and official personnel. It acknowledges the continuing applicability of those definitions to the extent that they are broad in that way. But, crucially, it also identifies the bottom line, and the bottom line is this: that whatever else might constitute terrorism, terrorism is any act intended to cause death of bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants for the purpose of either intimating a population or compelling a government or a government institution to do or not to do something.
The language in which all of this is expressed is not necessarily the most elegant drafting language, but I personally, and I hope the rest of the Panel members will join me in this, we suggest and strongly recommend that it be embraced just as it is. If we have […] the preparatory documents for this conference and we come up and say that simply this new language proposed by the Panel should be a starting point for a new round of negotiations on this, we are condemning ourselves to total inertia of inactivity for another […] years. God knows how many years. What we have to do in this context is move forward and I believe this conference can give a major boost to moving forward in all the ways I’ve suggested, but, in particular, by endorsing that definition as it now stands. Thank you.
Now I give the floor to Amre Moussa, the Secretary General of the League of Arab States.
Thank you very much. The title of this session is to discuss the report of the UN High-Level Panel. It ought to go beyond discussing the issue of terrorism to some kind of major issues that would include, of course, terrorism. Terrorism comes under the headline of collective security and challenge of prevention. This collective security talks about seven or eight challenges to the security of mankind. It talks about poverty […] it talks about conflict with states, it talks about nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, it talks about terrorism and transnational organised crime. I think that this chapter is the backbone of the report, how to meet security, and we cannot meet security only by combating terrorism, but by combating poverty and dealing with the issue of interstate conflict and also the major question of weapons of mass destruction and their proliferation.
Having said that, of course the issue of terrorism is basic under the present international circumstances. All of us on the Panel gave a lot of importance to this point, terrorism, and as my two colleagues have underlined, the issue of the causes of terrorism, the poverty, desperation and other issues that will generate frustration, anger, agitation, it should be that way, it should be born in mind when we discuss the issue of terrorism. The point on a further convention to deal with terrorism was discussed and what is the added value for a new convention. You should know, as it has been said before, that we have already twelve conventions dealing with terrorism and combating terrorism; do we need a thirteenth one? Yes, I believe we need one. Why? The general issue, that’s actually the issue of terrorism, causes, how to combat it, how to preserve international law, how to respect the human rights of people.
Any definition… –fine, the General Assembly of the United Nations should bear this responsibility and I’m always comfortable when the General Assembly is involved because it represents everybody and through that, the points of view coming from […] But I also suggest that an international conference under the auspices of the United Nations would be good in order to discuss, to debate and then adopt that convention. But I wonder how much time do we need, because in such a convention we’ll have to address why terrorism has threatened international life to that extent. The reasons […] will have to be discussed and they have to call on all countries concerned to engage in combating poverty and helping people in the third world and the least developed nations to move ahead, to move on. We have to talk about democracy and we have to talk about human rights, about respect of law and order. Is any new convention going to cover all those points? Or it will help them in the preamble part of one or two of the bits and then either into security matters and how to combat it in airports, planes, etc. So it is not simply a new convention, an added convention, in order to have an added value, has to be with the causes, has to be with international law, with basic human rights and with the procedures that should be […] by all in order to face terrorism and terrorists.
Linked to terrorism is the question of transnational organised crime. Also linked to it, and mentioned by Gareth now, is the question about the non-state […] when it comes to the use of weapons of mass destruction. This is an extreme case of terrorism. So my point is to explain to you that agreeing to help a thirteenth convention dealing with terrorism is not a simple passage, except if we move around the traditional lines to have a convention that brings together what has been stipulated in the previous conventions and if this is our task, I believe that we don’t need […] And if […] means to have a comprehensive view and to be brave enough to talk about issues that […] when it comes to terrorism. Would this be possible? I think so. Thank you.
Thank you so much for your contribution. Now I will call Satish Nambiar from the United Service Institution of India.
Thank you Mr Chairman. Ladies and Gentleman, I will just focus on two specific points that the Panel has made, one being […] and the other being the aspect of the use of force. […] I think it will be useful, particularly in a forum like this, to separate two forms of terrorism as we see it today, and of course, which has been dealt with in the sense of persecution of terrorists and prosecution of groups which profess or have an ideology, whatever it is, in terms of occupation or succession, independence, whatever it is. And here the stress has been in arriving at a definition […]
I think in the context of the frame of this summit and the discussion we’ve had, the other form, I believe, that we need to focus on is what is really […] global terrorism which I think is basically being prosecuted by a group or groups of people who challenge the social and democratic values that most of hold pretty dear. It’s a philosophy, in fact, that […] more or less, and the reason why there is a need to focus on this is that it is, unfortunately, led by people who are well educated and, in fact, are from affluent sections of society. It’s not the underprivileged who are leading those movements, but they obviously draw their foot soldiers from the underprivileged sections of society. And that’s where I think this counter terrorist strategy that has been recommended by the Panel is put in place or deliberated upon.
There will be a need to recognise some essential parameters, and the first one is that it will take a long time to deal with this phenomenon. And secondly, of course, there is a point that had been made by my other colleagues, the need to make investment in addressing the depravation and poverty in many parts of the world which provide the resources in terms of food shortages for this movement, education and the respectful tradition, customs and culture in many societies. And here I would like to make this point as a former military man myself, that this cannot be won by military means alone, though of course there is a need to apply force and military means when required. Even when it is required, I think it cannot be raised as a war but more with a degree of restraint so that innocent civilians are not caught up in the process. Therefore it requires a […] philosophy […] and this leads me onto the second point which I think the Panel has made, not directly relevant here, but the use of force.
In fact, when we were deliberating within the Panel, many of us during the deliberations felt that, as the draft […] this obsessive focus on the use of force in many of the recommendations we were trying to evolve. And we did try our best to dilute that element of it. But frankly, after the report has come out, on the few occasions that one has had to interact with people in many sections of society, at least in my part of the world, it’s apparent that there’s still this worry of this use of force, mechanism that more powerful in the world, will use this excuse to intervene, or whatever, on the pretence of killing terrorism. I think that is something that, as the international community, we need to focus on so that the worries that exist in the developing world are […] to the extent possible. Thank you, Mr Chairman.
Thank you so much for your contribution. Now we move to the contribution of Kenneth Roth from Human Rights Watch.
Thank you and good morning. I’m here, I suppose, as the one independent voice on this morning’s Panel. I’m the only member sitting here who was not a member of the High-Level Panel. So let me be largely complimentary since […] We take the same pragmatic approach to terrorism, which is to say that even if we don’t have a legally biding instrument to point to that would allow us to address al-Qaida, say, we nonetheless can point out that the standards abiding in international law articulate certain values that are antipathical to terrorism and so we feel quite comfortable denouncing terrorism […] investigations on terrorism… we call terrorism a crime against humanity in various circumstances. Frankly that gives us a lot of attitude, even in the absence of a comprehensive treaty.
Now, in my and the Panel’s effort to derive a comprehensive definition, and I think it was a real breakthrough to gain an endorsement of the idea that there simply is no excuse for deliberately attacking civilians whether its for ridding oneself from brutal occupation, being a freedom fighter or […] whatever, none of that excuses deliberate attacks on civilians, and that is extremely important. And I take this point, that, in order to salvage a consensus, we have to simply swallow the definition as it is, I think that we can swallow it.
Where I would criticise it, however, is that I think the Panel frankly ducked when it came to state terrorism. The excuse that it gave, which is we don’t need to address state terrorism because it is already addressed by international mandatory law, isn’t a good enough answer, because international mandatory law only applies if there is an armed conflict, and we are well aware that there are many incidences of state terrorism where it occurs outside of armed conflict situation. So […] I would look to a definition of terrorism that makes clear that whether you are a state or a non-state entity, I don’t care, none of you should attack civilians. That should be on the agenda of a comprehensive definition of terrorism, and I would like to see movement in that direction were that to be possible.
Now the High-Level Panel appropriately asked that we look at the root causes of terrorism and here, I like to think of this in terms of the swing vote, that’s to say there are certain people, epitomised by let’s say Osama Bin Laden, who you will never convince to give up on terrorism, and in those cases, one needs classic security measures. On the other hand, there are the vast majority of people who would never engage in terrorism and then one shouldn’t have to worry about them. But there is a middle ground, you know, the angry young man, who, frankly, could go either way, and I think that the success of counter terrorism efforts has to be judged in terms of whether we are winning that swing vote or not. Are we nudging people toward political participation or are we pushing them toward violence and extremism? And here, while many people talk about poverty, I should think that poverty itself does not begin to explain the problem. The problem is really much more one of exclusion, of humiliation, frustration. And in answer to that, I’d like to highlight just two.
One is the importance of building responsive political systems so that when people have grievances, as everybody does, they believe that they have an opportunity, an outlet within their political system to have those grievances reasonably heard. Secondly, you need to build a culture of respect for human rights around world, because, after all, it is the principles of human rights that explain why it’s wrong to attack innocent civilians. How do we do that? Well let me ask you this in terms of both the United Nations role and also I’d like to choose the example of a particularly powerful government in the United States.
With the UN, the High-Level Panel made a number of efforts to ensure that the UN’s conduct in fighting terrorism is respectful of human rights, and frankly, there is a need for correction because so far it has not been. The UN’s inquisition of sanctions in the counter terrorist realm has had no opportunity for people who are blacklisted to challenge that listing before a fair tribunal and the Panel, very appropriately, highlighted that […] process deficiency and urged that there be an opportunity to be heard and to say, “I’m unfairly listed as a target of sanctions”, as a matter of basic fairness which is neglected in the heat of post 9/11.
Similarly, the Counter Terrorism Committee has been almost singularly focused on building security measures to fight terrorism and consciously neglectful of the human rights constraints that should guide any counter terrorism measure. Now Javier Rupérez, who I know is here today, has vowed to try and change that. But, if you look at the Security Council’s first resolution after 9/11, there was a perambulatory nod towards human rights and then utter indifference as various mandates were imposed by governments to fight terrorism. And that has been the tone with which the Counter Terrorism Committee has gone round the world ordering governments to enact legislation and being utterly indifferent to the human rights consequences of that legislation. That sets a terrible tone which needs to be stopped.
The High-Level panel also looked at problem of the UN Human Rights Commission which frankly has become an embarrassment which is threatening to undermine the reputation of the United Nations overall. The Commission has become, unfortunately, a victim of its own success. Twenty years ago it didn’t condemn any government, it was irrelevant and nobody noticed. But today when it does condemn governments, its stigma has a real sting to it. We just found the fact that various unsavoury governments are flocking to the Commission, not to uphold its purposes of defending human rights, but rather to undermine it. This has created a problem where roughly half of the Commission’s 53 countries numbers are there to defeat the purpose of the Commission.
Now part of the Panel acknowledged this, its diagnosis was very good, its prescription, I think, was really a capitulation rather than a solution. While it says, “well we can’t really improve upon the membership so let’s just make it into another General Assembly, let’s universalise the membership, invite everybody in and maybe that’ll solve the problem”. But in this last time the General Assembly met to discuss human rights issues, it voted not even to discuss human rights in Zimbabwe, Sudan or Belarus. This generalised universal solution is not the answer. Instead we need to find a way to raise the bar, to recognise the fact that the membership of the Human Rights Commission is a privilege which carries certain responsibilities. Human Rights Watch is recommending, for example, that the governments commit to membership pledges, governing […] in order to try to raise the standards of people likely to commission membership.
This matters in respect to terrorism because if you look at the record of the Commission on terrorism, it is abysmal […] have Sudan as a member rather than condemn Sudan which is a travesty. But there is an habitual condemnation of Israel, which I believe it deserves condemnation, but indifference to terrorism in the context of that conflict by Palestinian armed groups. That does not help advance the policies for fighting terrorism at all.
Finally, let me just look at the most powerful UN member, the United States. Here President Bush has been spending a lot of his time recently talking about freedom, democracy, liberty, all very nice words, wonderful ideals, things that the United States easily could say that it is. He has deliberately not talked about human rights. We all know why. It is difficult for the United States to talk in those terms when it is following a counter terrorism policy […] killing people, torturing people and subjecting them to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment… not that there are a few ‘bad apples’ at the bottom of the barrel, but as a matter of official policy made at the time. That is a problem for the fight against terrorism because it is, first of all, undermining the credibility of one of the most important traditional defenders of human rights that helped build a culture that says no to terrorism. It degrades the very standards that we need to rely on today to convince people not to attack civilians. And frankly it breeds resentment and that is contributing to the loss of the swing vote that we need to win if we are going to defeat terrorism. So for all of these reasons I welcome the High-Level Panel’s introduction […] it took a very important step in the right direction, but there a still a few more steps that they need to take. Thank you very much.
Thank you Kenneth, and now we conclude the interventions from the table and give the floor to Robert Badinter.
Thank you. I’m very pleased that the last words of Kenneth Roth were to say that there are many steps again after the Panel proposal. This opens us a future for the members of the panel. But, for the present time, I will in a very short time summarise what are the original views of the Panel on this crucial matter of fighting international terrorism. We have all come to the same conclusion, the only approach is a global approach, as international terrorism is… what does that mean? It means, first of all, that we have put the accent on the necessity of going, as our friend Moussa mentioned, to the roots of terrorism, what causes terrorism. That is not only poverty, or the tolerance or dictatorship or lack of state of law, but prejudice should also be taken into consideration. Whatever the roots are, there is no sense in fighting only the effects, the terrorism action itself, we have to go to the roots.
Now, apart from this approach, there is the second point, the political action which should be internationally […] And, in this respect, we have suggested in our recommendation, a few steps to be taken to improve the cooperation of fighting against terrorism and increasing the means of the Counter Terrorism Committee and also the international cooperation in terms of the sharing of information or even the […] But, when it comes to the crucial matter, the legal approach, probably that’s going to be the importance of the Panel’s recommendation is outstanding.
First of all, and I must stress, we have, in a few passages of our report that always mention, the fight against international terrorism should always be led according to the fundamental prescriptions of human rights and the requirements of the state of law. It is not because we have to fight terrorism that we must throw overboard the fundamental principles which are the basis of our democratic regimes and the human rights recognition and, in this respect, I will here make a special salute to the last decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States and to the recommendations made by the House of Lords recently about the necessity, when fighting terrorism, never to forget the fundamental principles of freedom and the state of law.
We have referred to this requirement three times. Now to improve the legal basis that is ours now, we have in this line, first of all reminded the states that you already have an […] of convention twelve, but they are far from being signed and recognised by all the states and we call for this gratification of the existing conventions. For the ones that are already enforced, they are certainly not followed as closely as they should (be), I note that in terms of fighting against financing terrorism, so this is to be mentioned. Three, we have come to the conclusion, and In know it is an important point of discussion, that there should be a general comprehensive definition, in describing an international instrument of terrorism as a crime. It’s essential for the future.
Here I must refer you to the text itself where, first of all, we have souligné that states, as such since the Second World War have accepted, I wouldn’t say we were satisfied, but have accepted the principles that, during the course of armed conflict, not everything can be done. It is a long tradition that there are conventions now and the definitions of crimes, war or of crime versus humanity, do exist. They are state limitations agreed upon their own actions, notably, when it comes to the protection of civil rights. From there on, even if they don’t follow it necessarily, and in this they have to be brave, and I must also remind you that an international criminal court does now exist which deals with these matters.
The consequences when you look at international terrorism carried out by organisations which are not states, is that there is no reason whatsoever in this world that those organisations aren’t organisations and maybe tomorrow using weapons of mass destruction, those armed organisations, international, non-state organisations, should not be absolutely prosecuted and sentenced because they proceed to mass slaughter of innocent civilians. I stress the ‘innocent’ because some civilians are not necessarily innocent […] We cannot accept for whatever reason that innocent civilians are slaughtered by terrorists anywhere.
This is tied up with the fundamental respect of human life and the person who is at the heart of the Human Rights Declaration. Therefore, there must be an international convention saying that this type of action against civilians, planned and carried out in cold blood, has nothing whatsoever to do with the conflict of whatever reasons there is, that should not be allowed and should be considered as a crime. Crime versus humanity in cases like the one you have suffered here in Madrid last year, crimes […] The advantage of this international convention is of a double order. The first part is the solemnity in the United Nations of this recognition that terrorism is a crime. It has already been said in at least one convention repressing financial help to terrorism, there is a definition of terrorism there. But in a technical and not a general text, being after this moral and universal condemnation of terrorism fighting against civilians, then we have the legal damages that will come from this recognition, and notably in the field of extradition. I will not go into the technical details of that, but it will help build the legal practices and justices around the world in fighting terrorism.
So unanimously we have come to the conclusion that wherever […] whatever excuses alleged, there is here in (the) presence of international organised terrorism, the necessity of qualifying those mass murders of civilians as a crime and considered as such and prosecuted a such by all the state members of the United Nations. I hope even if the text which is in resolution is always subject to criticism and suggested improvement, it has been said, it has been taken as such, Gareth mentioned it, and not reopen the discussion, but accept it and pass it. It will certainly be, in terms of human rights, and I put it precisely on that line, a major step, a major progress.
Thank you so much, Robert. So, we have a definition but we are advised, wisely advised, to take it or leave it. We wanted […] convention but we are wisely advised that the discussion, it goes into the deep root causes of terrorism might lead us to a deadlock, and we have a framework to protect human rights and everybody agrees that we should stick to the line of respecting fundamental rights, but there are several important lagunae […] to protect human rights. Is it enough for our respondents to react to the Panel? I was asked by Mr Qian Qi Chen [… ?] that he wanted to make a comment so please you have the floor…
[ Non-English / No translation available ]
Thank you so much for your contribution, Minister Qian Qi Chen [?]. I don’t know if any of our respondents want to react. You want to have the floor. Please, you have the floor. Can you introduce yourself please?
Jõao Clemente Baena Soares
Mi nombre es Jao Clemente Baena Suares, durante 10 años fui Secretario general de la organización de los Estados Americanos y más recientemente miembro del panel de alto nivel. Dos puntos me gustaría comentar dentro de los cuatro minutos que me pertenecen Presidente. El primero que es más, son las finanzas del terrorismo, se habla muy poco de ese problema a mi entender. El informe pide a los países, a los estados que se asocien a las recomendaciones de la OCDE pero es poco, dentro del informe es poco, dentro de la realidad es muy poco. Un tema que los gobiernos, la opinión publica de los países, las organizaciones que se interesan en el combate al terrorismo deben tener siempre presente en […] Cómo llegar a la medida, a una política en esa materia, hay necesidad que […] los bancos nacionales e internacionales. Yo veo muy poco esfuerzo para eso.
Quiero también comentar, y esto muy afirmativamente, las preocupaciones con las libertades civiles, con los derechos humanos. No podemos aceptar que debido al combate del terrorismo, se abran caminos para prácticas totalitarias. Eso sería la victoria de los terroristas, destruir nuestra manera de vivir, nuestros valores, nuestra fe, el humanismo y nuestras políticas. Esto es la victoria de los que quieren destruirnos. Por lo tanto hay que tener mucho consenso. Yo veo que está presente en nuestros debates. Esta es la cuestión. Los límites de la reacción de los estados, los límites que son la preservación y el respeto de los derechos humanos.
Quería también decir que las intervenciones fueron excelentes pero que dos me han llamado la atención especialmente, la de Amre Moussa […] que hay que abrir el debate en temas importantes que nosotros debemos considerar. Las propuestas de nuestro encuentro y nuestro informe tienen una consistencia y una organización porque no podemos en este punto especialmente, el combate al terrorismo, olvidar, que todas las amenazas a la paz y a la seguridad internacional están vinculadas en una interdependencia que debemos considerar muy firmemente. Gracias Sr. Presidente.
Thank you so much for your comments, Enrique Iglesias you have the floor.
Thank you chairman. I will be very brief, I will not respond because I agree with all that has been said so I simply would like to supplement with a few comments. Answering one of the comments that has been heard in commenting this report in several quarters. The understanding that the board does not pay enough attention in the area of prevention and peace and security to the economic and social conditions of the world. Well, let me say before you that first of all this is not true. I mean from the very beginning the very report starts stressing very firmly that the present situation of the economic and social situation of the world is one of the major threats to stability to peace and security now and in the years to come, and I think that the whole question related to poverty, to inequality, to exclusion, is extremely important issue and I think that it was from the very beginning something that was very clearly put in the report as a major threat to peace and security in the years to come.
The second point is that the report stresses very warmly the conviction that the UN system, the […] system has to continue playing a very crucial role. In another respect it refers to three pieces which were approved by the […] system in recent years which are examples of […] to responding to this sort of reaction to the problem of establishing more equality. One is the millennium development roles, number two is the finance for development in Monterey and three is a standard development message of Johannesburg. So in the way by responding to these threats, the report makes it very clear that these are the three pieces on which action should be concentrated.
The third point I think refers to a […] the report once again considering that the UN has to play a central role refers once again to the organisation […] of a major instrument of responding to these new challenges and in that sense it believes that the […] should be revitalised once again and should be becoming a real work forum of development of the world. And in that respect we should be the point of encounter of particularly the institutions around the UN system, specifically the three institutions that have the real power of the world economically which is IMF the World Bank and the […] The consumption being the way it is already which is a much more real focal point of concentration of these institutions and the coordination of them.
The fourth point is that in relation to this […] every aspect of the economic and social implications would be taken into account in all the mechanisms of fighting and trying to reach peace and stability in the world. The creation of this special unit in that sense to make the link between the problems of economy and security is one of the major important issues. And finally, you see one of the issues which was very long debated is how to be more political clout to actions in the economic […] in the world and in that sense the repost stresses its support in fact in its final G8 of head of state to G12 , G24 could become in itself a major focal point to push initiatives on the economic and social field that could have the political support of 95 % of the economic part of the world concentrated in the G24, and therefore become a major method of implementation for the United Nation system and for the […] So these 5 points will start to response to this general comments which should be very clear from the very outset […] economic and social situation is a major area in which everybody should be concentrated in order to achieve peace and security in the years to come. Thank you gentlemen.
Thank you for your contribution and we conclude the respondents reactions with Javier Rupérez.
My name Javier Rupérez I am the Executive Director of Counter Terrorism of the United Nations. I wanted to first say that the work done by the panel, is excellent and it really deserves congratulations and commendations. It was in fact a high level panel has become the agenda for the United Nations for the months and years to come and although the report by itself was not a source of law for the United Nations, but we have reached the point where just the quality of the reflections have made the United Nations for your recommendations and this is something really unheard of, and at the same time excellent and that applies to all the organs of the recommendations and this applies to the Secretary General who has been extremely warm and supportive in receiving the report and that applies to the Security Council as well. One hopes that that will apply eventually to the General Assembly which is considered as one of the focal points of some of the things which are still maybe being missed in what the United Nations should be doing.
We may have missed three points as far as […] on terrorism are concerned definition, root causes and human rights.
Definition, I would subscribe 100% to what you say, I would subscribe to the definition of terrorism but I don’t think the problem, as you all know very well, is a problem of legal terms, legal elements. it is a political problem. After all, we have to face the reality that if the General Assembly has not yet been able to reach a definition of terrorism, it is not because of a lack of legal comprehension of the phenomenon. It is because of the number of political agendas, national political agendas, which unfortunately do not yet coincide and I think
do cause terrorism this is what the terrorist would like to imagine and all the time we are making reference to grievances, but we have to try and make clear, that this is not the reality of things. There are quite a number of grievances which do not provoke terrorism. And we give here in Spain a very clear example of this. Many of us thought that by the arrival of democracy to the country terrorism was going to automatically [disappear]; and it didn’t, just the opposite. In spite of democracy, in spite of recognition of rights and freedoms, the terrorists kept on striking the society.
I think that for the three points we would have to look into something different. I think that the root causes of terrorism are more than anything else in the efficiency of the terrorist sometimes need to define their own actions, instead of real grievances. And we have to take into account that after all that we will have to address those grievances whether they produce terrorism or not, because misery and poverty and the down trodden of the earth and many other things, injustices and […] are things to be tackled with regardless of whether they produce terrorism or not. They are factors, as Enrique Iglesias pointed out, they are factors of instability round the world not.
The third point, from my view point, echoes what Kenneth had to say. We have to introduce human rights and freedoms and the respect of them very clearly in the fight against terrorism. I am right now putting together the counter terrorism executive directorate. One of the main aspects of it is going to be the respect for those rights and freedoms in the fight against terrorism and there will be persons specifically dealing with those aspects, within my team. Certainly there is no lack of legal reference, because all of the resolutions of the Security Council talking about terrorism do remind us that we have to bear in mind humanitarian law, humans rights and so on and so forth, and again this is a clear risk, not necessarily to the members of the public, but to all the nations, members of the United Nations. It is up to the governments to address that question, because after all, the United Nations are the members of the United Nations and from that view point, it is very much their responsibility to look and to act according to the resolutions and laws that have been […] Thank you.
Thank you so much. Now we have the impossible task of having questions and answers from the floor in 10 minutes which I will not be able to succeed, I am sorry. So first ask for the floor, Hans Corell, and then the gentleman that has asked down there, we will try to do our best. Could you just focus on a question please so that the panel has the opportunity […]
Yes, I am Hans Corell, the former legal council of the United Nations because I was involved in serving the General Assembly when they drafted the convention against terrorist bombings and terrorist financing, I would just like to say one thing. We were very close in October 2001 to having a definition of terrorism and I remember very vividly sitting next to Amre Moussa pulling out the text that they had produced and we were almost there, when something happened in the building, and the atmosphere went sour. As a coordinator of the group number ten for the judicial issues here, I would just like to explain why we have no definition in our paper.
We thought it was presumptuous of us having discussed on the blog on the internet, a meeting in a few hours here in Madrid to come up with anything, but referring to the definitions that are on the table, and then looking at the fundamental issue here, which is a political issue, mainly no cause is so just that you can defend it by using these acts, and I just wanted to mention that because people might be wondering why this group of lawyers did not engage in a discussion of the definition.
My question is, and I congratulate the panel who have done a great service to the United Nations, and thereby to the world, that struck me was the composition of the Commission for Human Rights. And making this, as Kenneth Roth said, a General Assembly does that really bring the cause forward, did you ever consider bringing it back to the time when Eleanor Roosevelt chaired a commission of experts that produce one of the most important documents of the organisation, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thank you.
Thank you, thank you for testifying that lawyers can resist to discuss law, now there is a gentleman down there on the floor also, please just one question as I will not be able… I mean there is no use to put questions, if the panel does not have the opportunity to reply
Delegate from the floor
My name is […] I am from […] I just have something to add about a comment of Amre Moussa. He connected the convention with the idea of roots and causes. I think that this is not a good way to go ahead, because the convention is a legal instrument and it has certain goals on extradition in respects of human rights, etc. and these are things for example like poverty and misery and all these things affect security and are dealt with very, very good in the report, are not going to be the added value of the convention. The added value of the convention is a different one and we have to support that added value. Thank you.
Thank you. Now just hearing from the second row, please, and then you have the floor and then I am sorry.
Delegate from the floor
My name is […] I am from [….] I just wanted to put two points which we had made before … panel in… July. The first point I made at that time was that there is going to be difficulty in defining terrorism, so why not start by identifying certain aspects of terrorism, like hijacking, blowing up an aircraft in mid air, etc., and lay down, that any organisation which indulges in such acts is a terrorist organisation and act against it. I also sent in writing a recommendation to the panel.
And the second point which we made before the members of the panel […] was that the time has come for the United Nations to think in terms of a specialised agency to deal with counter terrorism. Either[… ] Interpol, to be able to deal with terrorism or if you feel that Interpol is not a competent specialised agency, recommend the creation of a special agency.
And number 3 is about the root cause of terrorism. I made the point but I did not make the point before the panel […] the common group causes. Different people have different reasons for either some are angry because of Palestine, some of those are angry because of Kashmir, some of those are angry because of East Timor, but there is not a common cause of anger which makes the entire Islamic community […]Muslims, because they think that the counter terrorism strategy, the counter terrorism technique which is being followed today, the so called war against terrorism is directed against the Muslims. So even if you find the solution to all these causes, in Palestine, or Kashmir or whatever it is so long as this anger or this [… ]international community [… ]terrorism continues, the terrorism will continue. So to ask the question about the counter terrorism techniques which are being followed since 9/11. Thank you
So madam, one very strict question. I am sorry because at 10.40 there is another panel so I cannot loose control.
I am Dr Danieli of the International Society for Traumatic Stress and I have worked with victims for over 35 years in all kinds, including terrorism. I have a question both from the from the point of view of terrorism really being a process and an ongoing issue rather than as this great event only and it creates victims, and that being a victim of terrorism may create in fact a continuing cycle of violence of terrorism. How come the report of the high level panel does not mention victims?
One minute please, I am sorry one minute you can put questions, but they will not be answered, but what is the purpose of the exercise.
Delegate from the floor
Thank you chairman, Richard […] the coordinator of the team that … sanctions against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in conjunction with the 12 67 committee. And I just wanted to end the questions on a positive note in that the many contacts that we have had with the states, shows an increasing commitment in my view to join together and with the United Nations in the struggle against the threat from Al Qaida and it is not just an effort to deal with it by aggress attacks against terrorists themselves, but also to take up the points that Mr Roth was saying to win over the middle ground, and that is a real and growing understanding and I think the need and importance of doing that, and I think that I should say that although we lack a definition of terrorism of course and all those issues still remain to be resolved the global consensus in condemning the groups that perpetrated the attacks that we are here commemorating today and tomorrow in Madrid is such that I think it provides a real momentum for other work against all the broader aspects of terrorism to come in behind and I think that that is a very positive area, if one can be at all positive about terrorist attacks, and I think that the United Nations work against Al Qaida and Taliban particularly of course against Al Qaida and the work now Mr Rupérez is taken in hand will provide a real momentum behind which many other aspects of international … against terrorism will call.
Thank you so much. So we turn to the panel, and there is a sort of a consensus that Gareth Evans is going to make the miracle of giving a reply to all questions in two minutes. You have the floor.
I’m going to answer Hans Corell’s ones as those are the ones that got to me as a lawyers, one of the lawyers on the panel. The first thing that I would say about Hans, is that there is an iron law of human nature that lawyers always behave like lawyers. The trouble is we sometimes have to behave like politicians or even conceivably statesmen and this is one of them, because the truth of the matter is that in a gathering of this kind designed to give political momentum to the struggle against terrorism and to generate international cooperation, coordination and effectiveness, it is not presumptuous to give it that momentum and one of the key issues is getting an agreement about this definition so we can move forward from the […] framework front and that is why it is critical not so much to express the doubts which we might all have in our private moments, but to express what it is that’s possible to agree about, so that’s why I was disappointed although we didn’t say so in the legal committees participation in this , although we understand perfectly the quibbles that you might have, but please, please, please remember what the bottom line is and let’s get behind the bottom line.
Secondly remember Ken Roth goes on a platform giving the kind of excellent brilliant contribution he made today he always makes me deeply uneasy, however well we think we have done on any given exercise, Ken will always point to some flaws in it and make us squirm one way or the other, but I don’t think he deserved to make us squirm on the issue of the Human Rights Commission which is the other point that Hans Corell made. The panel was not quite as dopey as you all seemed to think we were in proposing that the Human Rights Commission become a body of universal membership. The reasoning behind this, I don’t think it will prevail, but the reasoning behind it was simply this. The problem with the Human Rights Commission at the moment is that it is a thoroughly dysfunctional institution, it is operating so comprehensively politically that we’ve somehow got to break out of that. One solution that most people seem to like is to solve this problem by making the commission itself confined to the good guys so we introduce some new criteria we make some exclusions and we stop a whole bunch of people who are there as squerlers and who are dancing their own squalid political […] , we get rid of them. The problem is accomplishing just that and the kind of political brawl that you’ll get yourself into trying to define the criteria to separate the good guys from the bad guys and then the problem of actually implementing that in practice so as to create the commission that is solely comprised of those with excellent human rights records and commitments is going to be nightmarishly difficult, and what the panel tried to do is approach the issue the other way so let’s not create a whole new layer of political controversy and agony and reasons to fight, lets just really try and concentrate on making the Human Rights Commission an expert body, sure representative of every nation, but with the crucial decisions of the panel of the commission being driven by an expert advisory group and of the representatives of the various countries being experts rather than just diplomats and so on. Now that was the concept behind it now it might not be workable in practice but it wasn’t as loopy as it perhaps sounds. And let’s hope that we can get behind the common approaches.
Now is there anyone any other member of the panel who feels that he does not have the floor it is his human dignity that is at stake. No ok so I will just say that we will not forget to mention and underline the role of victims and the support of victims in a general strategy to deal with terrorists in the conclusions and since we are running out of time you are spared my conclusion, thank you so much.