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Sri Lanka tells UN debate that global treaty on terrorism must be agreed soon

Sri Lanka tells UN debate that global treaty on terrorism must be agreed soon

The negotiation process for a comprehensive global convention against terrorism has taken far too long and needs to wind up, Sri Lanka’s President told the United Nations General Assembly today as he called for greater international vigilance against terrorism and related illegal activities.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, addressing the annual high-level general debate at UN Headquarters in New York, said his country knew first-hand of both the impact of terrorism and the need to act aggressively to deal with the scourge.

“We have become party to 11 of the 13 UN conventions for the suppression of various acts of terrorism,” he said. “We think that the comprehensive convention on international terrorism, which in our view remains a priority, is only limited to endless discussion. I emphasize that we must conclude these negotiations soon.”

Talks among Member States on a draft convention have been progressing at the UN for years, but have stalled on a number of issues, including the precise definition of terrorism.

Mr. Rajapaksa said today that terrorism and related illegal or illicit activities increasingly undermined State sovereignty, civil society and the rule of law.

“We need to be vigilant about these activities. Although the UN system has set up mechanisms to deal with many of these problems, the capacity of the UN to address these challenges effectively has been brought into question.”

The President said Sri Lanka strongly endorsed efforts to strengthen UN mechanisms to counter fund-raising for illegal activities.

“We encourage the Secretary-General to allocate more resources to this area, especially to enhance technical skills in countries which do not have such skills.”

Mr. Rajapaksa devoted some of his address to the conflict between Government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which he called “a ruthless terrorist group in the north of the country.”

He said Government forces “have freed the Eastern Province from terrorism and restored law and order there,” and now the Government plans to make the province a model for development and rehabilitation.

The President said the military operations had been launched only to convince the LTTE that it would not be possible for them to obtain a military victory, and that “our goal remains a negotiated and honourable end to this unfortunate conflict.”