The United Nations General Assembly today adopted a comprehensive global strategy to counter terrorism, overcoming differences between Member States and a year of often fractious negotiations to agree for the first time on a common approach to fighting the scourge.
The strategy, in the form of a resolution and a plan of action, includes practical steps at the local, national and international level – ranging from strengthening the capacity of individual States to prevent and combat terrorism to ensuring that human rights and the rule of law are always respected in the fight against terrorism.
It also calls for measures to enhance the role of the UN system to deal with terrorism, and to make sure that the world body’s efforts are better coordinated.
Speaking after the strategy was adopted by consensus at UN Headquarters in New York, General Assembly President Jan Eliasson said “we should consider this as a great achievement for the General Assembly, which has established itself in the area of fighting terrorism.”
Acknowledging that the past 12 months of negotiations have sometimes been “troublesome,” Mr. Eliasson said the definition of terrorism remained a source of contention for many nations.
But he said it was a sign of the mutual commitment to defeating terrorism that States were able to overcome their differences and find enough areas of common ground to devise a strategy.
The strategy makes clear that it is vital to consistently, unequivocally and strongly condemn terrorism in all forms and manifestations, committed by whomever and for whatever purposes. Terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.
Identifying some conditions – such as prolonged unresolved conflict, human rights violations, socio-economic marginalization and lack of good governance – as conducive to the spread of terrorism, the strategy’s plan of action stresses the importance of achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), resolving conflicts and promoting dialogue and tolerance between civilizations.
The resolution calls for the strategy to be reviewed by the General Assembly in two years’ time to chart the progress made by Member States.
Welcoming the strategy, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement that it “sends a clear message that terrorism is unacceptable, no matter who commits it, no matter what the reason.”
Mr. Annan said he hoped Member States would now move swiftly to implement all aspects of the strategy so that they can “honour the victims of terrorism everywhere.”
The Secretary-General congratulated Mr. Eliasson and his two co-chairs, Singaporean Ambassador Vanu Gopala Menon and Spanish Ambassador Juan Antonio Yáñez-Barnuevo, “for leading the membership to this historic achievement.”
In May, Mr. Annan unveiled a series of recommendations for the counter-terrorism strategy, which world leaders pledged to work towards at last year’s World Summit in New York.
Speaking to reporters following today’s action, he said: “I am extremely happy that the General Assembly has approved this historic document on the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. And I think it is the first time the 192 countries have come together and taken a stand on the issue of terrorism. Now the test will be how we implement it.”