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Annan says only an international campaign can rid world of terrorism

Annan says only an international campaign can rid world of terrorism

Kofi Annan addressing the General Assembly
Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged all countries of the world to join the international fight against terrorism, warning that without united, global action the effort would fail.

"Terrorism will be defeated if the international community summons the will to unite in a broad coalition, or it will not be defeated at all," the Secretary-General told the United Nations General Assembly as it opened a weeklong meeting on measures to combat international terrorism. "The United Nations is uniquely positioned to serve as the forum for this coalition, and for the development of those steps governments must now take - separately and together - to fight terrorism on a global scale."

The Secretary-General welcomed the Security Council's adoption late Friday of a broad resolution aimed at targeting terrorists and those who harbour, aid or support them. "I applaud the Council for acting so swiftly to enshrine in law the steps needed to carry this fight forward with new vigour and determination," he said, urging all States to support the effort.

Referring to the work of the General Assembly, Mr. Annan noted that it must give effect to the 12 UN treaties and protocols on international terrorism. He proposed that countries "make it their first order of business during the general debate to sign all the conventions on terrorism, and pledge to work for their ratification and implementation without delay." In addition, he urged States to forge agreement on a comprehensive convention against international terrorism.

Warning of other threats, the Secretary-General pointed out that a single attack involving a nuclear or biological weapon could kill millions. "While the world was unable to prevent the 11 September attacks, there is much we can do to help prevent future terrorist acts carried out with weapons of mass destruction," he emphasized, calling for redoubled efforts to implement key treaties relating to those arms, closer cooperation among international organizations dealing with them, and tighter national legislation covering the exports of goods and technologies used in their production.

While focusing his remarks on the fight against terrorism, Mr. Annan also called attention to the need to care for victims of that scourge, "whether they are the direct targets or other populations who will be affected by our common effort." In particular, he urged donors to support the recent UN humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan.

Seeking to draw lessons from the recent attacks, the Secretary-General said, "just as a concerted international response can make the work of terrorists much harder to accomplish, so should the unity born of this tragedy bring all nations together in defence of the most basic right - the right of all peoples to live in peace and security."