UN must play increasing role in thwarting terror, Annan tells Security Council

UN must play increasing role in thwarting terror, Annan tells Security Council

Kofi Annan addressing the Security Council
As the United Nations Security Council met this morning for a high-level debate on combating terrorism, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the attending foreign ministers that the UN must play an increasing role in dissuading would-be-perpetrators of terror by setting effective international norms.

"The United Nations has an indispensable role to play in providing the legal and organizational framework within which the international campaign against terrorism can unfold," the Secretary-General said in a statement at the start of an open debate to discuss international anti-terrorism measures and to examine the activities of the Council's Counter-terrorism Committee (CTC), established in the wake of the 11 September attacks against the United States.

"But we must never lose sight of the fact that any sacrifice of freedom or the rule of law within States - or any generation of new tensions between States in the name of anti-terrorism - is to hand the terrorists a victory that no act of theirs alone could possibly bring," he added.

Even as the resolve of the international community is being praised, the Secretary-General noted that "important and urgent questions are being asked about what might be called the 'collateral damage' of the war of terrorism - damage to the presumption of innocence, to precious human rights, to the rule of law, and to the very fabric of democratic governance."

Domestically, he said, the danger is that in pursuit of security, crucial liberties could be sacrificed - weakening rather than strengthening common security. "Internationally, the world is seeing an increasing use of what I call the 'T-word' - terrorism - to demonize political opponents, to throttle freedom of speech and the press, and to delegitimize legitimate political grievances." Similarly, States fighting various forms of unrest or insurgency are finding it tempting to abandon the sometimes slow process of political negotiation for the deceptively easy option of military action.

The UN must also do whatever it can to deny terrorists the opportunity to commit their appalling crimes, the Secretary-General said. The CTC will continue play a key role there, as will common efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He said greater efforts are needed to ensure full implementation of the key treaties related to those weapons, to tighten national export controls over items needed to produce them, and to criminalize the acquisition or use of such weapons by non-State groups.

The Secretary-General also stressed that just as terrorism must never be excused, so must genuine grievances never be ignored. He urged determination to solve political disputes and long-standing conflicts, which underpinned, fuelled and generated support for terrorism. To the extent that the UN succeeded in fighting poverty and injustice, suffering and war, it was also likely to help end the conditions that served as justification for those who would commit acts of terror.



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