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General Assembly wraps up unprecedented five-day debate on terrorism

General Assembly wraps up unprecedented five-day debate on terrorism

As the General Assembly today concluded its debate on measures to combat international terrorism - which attracted a record level of participation - United Nations officials lauded the session while urging further follow-up on the issue.

"It is unprecedented in the history of the United Nations for 167 Member States and 4 Observers to participate in the debate on a single agenda item," said Assembly President Han Seung-soo of the Republic of Korea. "It is my sincere hope that the United Nations and the international community will take further necessary measures to combat international terrorism, building on the deliberations we have had for the last five days."

The Assembly President said all participants had wholeheartedly condemned the 11 September attacks against the United States. Member States voiced the view that terrorism constituted a threat to international peace and security, as well as a crime against humanity. They also stressed that the UN should play a key role in intensifying international efforts to combat the menace. In addition, participants pointed out that the fight against terrorism should be dealt with as a phenomenon separate from any religion or ethnic group. Some suggested convening a high-level conference on international terrorism, while others called for addressing the root causes of the threat.

"Member States concurred in the view that a primary task facing the international community at present is to ensure that an effective legal framework for the prevention and elimination of terrorism is in place," Mr. Han said, calling on countries to adhere to UN anti-terrorism treaties and urging Member States to accelerate work on pending conventions on international terrorism. He asked the Assembly's Legal Committee, which is handling the matter, to report on its work by 15 November.

Commenting on the results of the debate, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said it should mark an initial step in combating the scourge. "I think what is important is the whole international community has come together to fight the scourge of terrorism," he told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York today. "The General Assembly [meeting] this week is only a beginning."

Mr. Annan expressed hope that the UN membership would work hard to finalize a draft comprehensive treaty banning terrorism, "and add it to the 12 conventions and protocols which have already been passed" by the General Assembly.

"I would also hope that when the heads of States and the ministers come here for the [Assembly's] general debate in November, most of them will be ready to sign and work for ratification of these conventions, and above all, work hard to implement them," he stressed.