Terror attacks on US should galvanize international action, General Assembly told

Terror attacks on US should galvanize international action, General Assembly told

As the General Assembly's debate on measures to combat international terrorism entered its fourth day, expressions of solidarity with the United States continued, with numerous speakers emphasizing that the 11 September attacks should galvanize international action against the menace.

"The United Nations must now capitalize on the groundswell of international solidarity emanating from recent crises to strengthen dialogue against international terrorism, as we all have in some way been touched by its many forms and manifestations," said Fiji's Ambassador, Amraiya Naidu. "This is our opportunity to seize the new culture of conflict prevention, driven by the Secretary-General, as a critical platform for Member States to chart our destiny much closer towards international peace and security in the new millennium."

Malta's Ambassador, Walter Balzan, agreed that momentum was building for a global response to the attacks in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. "Out of the debris of those events a new sense of common purpose has been born within the international community," he said. "The remarkable expression of political will and decisive action that has been witnessed in the last three weeks inspires real hope that multilateral efforts to up-root the terrible growth of terrorism can make significant in-roads."

The Ambassador of Portugal, Francisco Seixas Da Costa, said, "this is a moment for action but, simultaneously, it is also a moment for reflection." He emphasized the need to examine all aspects of the problem, and cautioned against "looking at the trees where a forest exists." Priority should be given to achieving a comprehensive solution to the problem, he said. "With that aim, we must be prepared to act simultaneously in all the different areas that may be relevant."

"There could be no better opportunity than now to address the question of convening a high-level conference under the auspices of the UN to formulate a joint organized response of the international community to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations," said Clifford S. Mamba, the Ambassador of Swaziland. He said such a forum would facilitate consensus. "We are confident that with the collective wisdom of all its members, the Organization will achieve its goals and it will prevail."

Supporting this view, the Ambassador of Ghana, Nana Effah Apenteng, said his country "also looks forward to participating, at an appropriate future date, in the proposed high-level conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, to formulate the international community's joint organized response to terrorism." That forum, he added, "should carefully choose its priorities and agenda."

Canadian Ambassador Paul Heinbecker proposed strengthening the present anti-terrorism instruments. "Why not consider new bodies with strong and specific counter-terrorism mandates and adequate resources to lead and coordinate our efforts?" he asked. "Why not a high commissioner or a special representative of the Secretary-General for terrorism?"

Iraq's Ambassador, Mohammed Aldouri, said his country "had suffered and is still suffering" from acts of terrorism, including State terrorism. As a result, Iraq had empathized with the civilian victims of the recent terror attacks against the United States, and had "not rejoiced in what happened, as was mentioned by the Zionist circles in a clear provocative attempt." He stressed that combating terrorism first requires an agreed definition of the scourge, "so that it would not be mixed up with acts that are not related to terrorism or would exempt clear terrorist acts for purely political reasons."

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, Hugo Tolentino Dipp, said terrorism was linked to multiple circumstances whose origins go beyond ideological concepts. "The persistence and increase of injustices, misery, starvation, drugs, exclusion, prejudices, despair for lack of perspectives, multiply delirium and irrationality, which many times shows up through uncontrolled violence," he said. "The fight against terrorism must be, first of all, one of prevention, combat, and interdiction of such social illnesses."