|Statement on Terrorism|
|Wednesday, 07 October 2009 18:15|
by Ambassador Palitha Kohona,
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
Allow me at the outset, to congratulate you on your election to the Chair of this Committee. The Report of the Secretary-General is encouraging as many member States and international organizations have responded positively with regard to measures taken by them to prevent and suppress international terrorism. Needless to say, Mr. Chairman, representing a country that suffered for so long from terrorism, and which has succeeded in defeating the terrorist menace, we are encouraged by these measures. We also note with appreciation the presentation by the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism, the Report on the 13th Session of the Committee.
Terrorism continues to pose a serious threat to international peace and security. It causes economic and political instability in States. In fact, terrorism seeks to undermine the economic base of a State. It destroys the traditional ethos on which States and societies are founded. It also seeks to destabilize societies, subvert established order, and most importantly deny people their basic rights and freedoms. Most importantly, in my country, a clear terrorist goal was the destabilization of our established democratic institutions and way of life. As we struggled to defeat our terrorist threat, the protection of our democratic heritage was a clear objective.
Terrorism is a global challenge with its transnational linkages and requires an effective and compelling international response. As our national experience in Sri Lanka has shown, the transnational character of the criminal activities of terrorist groups required that the counter terrorism operations meticulously carried out in the battle field, be supported by concerted and well coordinated measures of international cooperation directed against the multifaceted criminal networks of the terrorist group. These networks comprise a vast and complex range of criminal activities ranging from fund raising using overseas bases, terrorist financing, money laundering, arms procurement and other organized criminal activities such as drug trafficking and human trafficking and people smuggling all of which are inter-related. Such activities, carried out in one part of the World including through front organizations, have their impact and sustained the terrorist activities of these groups on home soil. Even after the terrorist group was comprehensively defeated in Sri Lanka, there is emerging evidence that the activities of the remnants of the group have begun to focus on the related criminal pursuits such as people smuggling and drug trafficking.
As our Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka pointed out in his address to the General Assembly and I quote “The comprehensive range of these terrorist activities and their disastrous impact on the security and stability of States should awaken all States to consider, very seriously and as a matter of urgency, the importance of forging a global consensus on a comprehensive normative framework for international cooperation and solidarity in combating terrorism, within the parameters of international law.”
The transportation of large consignments of sophisticated equipment and lethal cargo to provide logistical support to terrorist groups continues to pose threat to maritime security. Weapons transported by sea may be reaching more than one group. In recent years, Sri Lanka has been a victim of unprecedented and dangerous forms of maritime terrorism. Our Navy has successfully confronted and interdicted the movement of virtual floating warehouses of arms and ammunition which caused a grave threat to the security and stability of our country and the region. In the process, our navy developed new techniques and equipment to counter this threat. At the global level this calls for a revision of existing laws pertaining to boarding and search of vessels in the high seas.
We also need a comprehensive legal framework to address all aspects of safety and security of maritime navigation, expanding on the current concerns on weapons of mass destruction. This would make a distinct contribution to securing global peace and security.
It is in this context that I wish to emphasize the urgent need to finalize the ongoing negotiations on the Draft Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism, which has been pending before this organization for a number of years. While considerable progress has been made during the recent rounds of negotiations, the time has come to reach finality on the outstanding issues and through the exertion of the necessary political will, to adopt this Convention without further delay. My delegation believes that the text prepared by the Coordinator on Draft Article 18, the key “Exclusions Clause” contains an excellent basis for reaching a consensus. The adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism, will strengthen the existing international legal framework of International Conventions on Suppression of Terrorism concluded under the auspices of the United Nations. The 13 sectoral conventions in particular, the recent 3 new sectoral Conventions, Terrorist Bombings Convention (TBC), Terrorist Financing Convention (TFC) and Nuclear Terrorism Convention (NTC) are testimony to the important work accomplished by this Committee. The adoption of the CCIT will confirm the strong and positive message of the international community that terrorists will not enjoy safe haven in any part of the World and that they would be brought to justice wherever they are. We must continue to make terrorists and those who sustain them feel uncomfortable at all times.
At the regional level, Sri Lanka has undertaken several initiatives in its capacity as the current Chair of SAARC to promote and foster regional cooperation in combating terrorism. The SAARC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in criminal matters was signed during the SAARC Summit in Colombo last year. The Convention provides for meaningful measures towards combating terrorism including provision of extended mutual cooperation to seize or confiscate funds collected for the purposes of financing terrorism. This year, we took the initiative to adopt the SAARC Ministerial Declaration on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism. The Declaration addresses issues pertaining to extradition and prosecution of persons connected with terrorist groups, the prevention of training of terrorists and issues pertaining to financing of terrorism. The Declaration also calls for the establishment of a high level group of eminent experts to review and make proposals to further strengthen SAARC anti-terrorism measures. We hope that such a group would contribute meaningfully to our efforts to counter terrorism in the region.
It is more than three years now since we adopted the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy. The Strategy provides an internationally agreed approach to Counter Terrorism. It also provides a framework for taking individual as well as collective initiatives aimed at addressing the threat from terrorism while maintaining respect for well established norms of the rule of law and human rights. We need to put in place measures to expeditiously implement this strategy without further delay. In implementing this strategy as well as other international conventions on combating terrorism we call for greater cooperation of all States and other actors to make it clear to terrorist groups that there will be no space for terrorism to flourish.
It is our considered view that the United Nations is the place for a concerted global campaign against terrorism. Such a concerted global campaign supported by national and regional measures will help evolve comprehensive practical approaches to strengthening global peace and security.
The ongoing interactions between the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate and Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) as well as other programmes and agencies should be encouraged and intensified with a view to synergizing UN approaches and responses to the challenges of terrorism. They have a vital role in building capacity among vulnerable States, to implement the strategy individually and collectively. However, to be effective, the Task Force should encompass a broader base of the UN General Assembly Membership and play an institutional role.
In advocating strong measures against terrorism, Sri Lanka insists that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, nationality or ethnic group and furthermore, these factors could not be used to justify terrorism or counter terrorism measures. Sri Lanka remains committed to working closely with all member States in advancing cooperation in combating the scourge of terrorism.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.