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UN symposium examines strategies to combat terrorism

UN symposium examines strategies to combat terrorism

Experts on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction gathered today at United Nations Headquarters in New York to discuss emerging security challenges in the wake of last month's terrorist attacks against the United States.

The discussions are part of a symposium which aims to help contribute to a broad, comprehensive and sustained strategy to fight terrorism and eradicate it from the world, according to Jayantha Dhanapala, the head of the UN Department of Disarmament Affairs, which organized the event.

Commenting on the changed landscape in opening remarks to participants, Mr. Dhanapala stressed that old concepts of deterrence and theories of conventional war are not applicable to the battle against terrorism. He noted that the potential for violence calculated to produce chaos and endanger civilian populations was far greater and more destructive than in the past.

"We need a common strategy in the disarmament area to deal with this global challenge while pressing ahead with our agreed objectives of achieving a common security with the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction and the reduction of conventional arms to the lowest possible level for legitimate national defence," he said, stressing that the UN "provides a forum for designing the strategy in the battle against terrorism."

The symposium's programme featured an overview of the terrorist threat to international peace and security by Professor Paul Wilkinson of the University of Saint Andrews, a discussion on the threat of nuclear terrorism led by Anita Nilsson, of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and a talk by Mikhail Berdennikov of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on those arms and terrorism.

Among the other participants, Ambassador Tibor Tóth of Hungary focused on the issue of bioterrorism in the context of the Biological Weapons Convention, Rohan Gunaratna of the University of Saint Andrews examined terrorism and small arms and light weapons, and V. P. Salov of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs explored the issue of financing weapons acquisitions by terrorists.