|Tuesday, 04 October 2011 16:12|
Statement by Ambassador H.E. Dr. Palitha Kohona,
Sixth Committee of the
Agenda Item 109 - Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism
“The threat posed by well financed and organized groups and individuals, directly or indirectly associated with terror groups and based thousand of miles apart, cannot be discounted easily. Well-meaning individuals and groups, including policy makers and media personnel, may inadvertently become pawns of the devious agendas of terrorists and facilitate the realization of terrorist goals and influence. We appeal to all well meaning persons to maintain vigilance, and not to create opportunities, even inadvertently, for terrorists and their sympathizers, to achieve through domestic and international mechanisms, many of which may appear to be perfectly legitimate, what they were unable to achieve through bullets, suicide bombs and the destruction of innocent lives. The encouragement of one group, in whatever form, will send a clear message to the others to adjust their tactics.”
Since my delegation is taking the floor for the first time, let me congratulate you on your assumption of the Chair of the Sixth Committee.
My delegation aligns itself with the Statement delivered by Iran on behalf of the NAM.
This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the horrible terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, an event that shook the world and was a wake up call to all countries on the globalization of terrorism. It sent a violent message to the entire world that terrorism has no borders, it does not respect nationality and is oblivious of religion or culture. For us in Sri Lanka, a country that for three decades bore the brutal brunt of terrorism, 9/11 was a stark reminder that no country in the world, big or small, weak or powerful, rich or poor, is safe from the vicious brutality of terrorism. This tragedy bore a message to the world’s leaders to intensify their efforts to address the deficiencies in domestic and international mechanisms to prevent and, wherever possible, prosecute acts of terrorism. A decade later it is but appropriate to ask ourselves if the world has done all what it could to prevent such acts of terror. Tragically, our experience has been that senseless acts of terror have continued as we witnessed in the recent incidents in Oslo, Mumbai and Abuja.
For three decades, my country, Sri Lanka, bled under a terror campaign conducted by a brutal terrorist group the LTTE, with their aim to carve out a mono-ethnic state with the ready support of sympathizers, mainly in Western countries who funded the terrorists, procured weapons for them and encouraged the recruitment of children. The conflict imposed on the people of Sri Lanka, of all ethnicities and religions, untold suffering. It challenged our democracy to the core. Sri Lanka’s decision to engage the LTTE terrorists militarily in 2006 followed their persistent refusal to return to peace negotiations and their ready embrace of terrorism. We tried three times, with the assistance of the international community, to talk to them in Geneva and in Oslo in 2006. The military engagement was based on a well-defined distinction between the terrorists and the civilians and its ultimate goal was a humanitarian rescue operation designed to relieve approximately 300,000 civilians held against their will as a human shield and as a bargaining chip by the terrorists. Despite the brutal onslaught of terrorism to undermine the State, the Government of Sri Lanka took determined measures to uphold human rights and IHL throughout the conflict. The government, with the assistance of the international community fed and provided health care to the people held hostage by the terrorists. Today, the sympathizers of the defeated LTTE, are conducting a well financed propaganda campaign designed to even scores and win through international sympathy what they lost through terror. The people of Sri Lanka are now enjoying the fruits of peace, and unprecedented stability that the eradication of terrorism has brought. All our people are enjoying the benefits of an economic boom. Not a single terrorist bomb has exploded in the country since the defeat of the terrorist LTTE in May 2009 and not a single terrorist bullet has been fired. Although we look to the future, we will never forget what terrorism did to our country and its people. We remain vigilant about the threat from the terrorist group’s agents and front organizations abroad who still subscribe to the destructive and racist ideology.
Almost all acts of terror continue to have direct or indirect international linkages. No terrorist group could survive for long without support from international linkages, as was so aptly demonstrated in our own case. The complex, multi-faceted phenomenon of terrorism, calls for coordinated and comprehensive approaches by the international community. Therefore, the issue can only be addressed through the combined efforts of the international community. Sri Lanka is a party to 13 multilateral conventions countering terrorism and the SAARC instruments. Sri Lanka is active in the global efforts to counter the illegal movement of funds. In this regard, it is vitally important that this year we reach finality in our negotiations on the comprehensive convention on terrorism. We note the discussions that have been taking place since GA Resolution 51/210 of 1996 and hope that these could be brought to a successful conclusion urgently. We sincerely hope that delegations can converge on a position that can achieve a consensus in a critical but yet unfulfilled area of responsibility of the world community.
We must not discount the threat posed by well financed and organized groups and individuals directly or indirectly associated with terror groups and based thousand of miles apart. Global mechanisms must continue to be strengthened, including through awareness raising and training. Well-meaning individuals and groups, including policy makers and media personnel, may inadvertently become pawns of the devious agendas of terrorists and facilitate the realization of terrorist goals and influence. We appeal to all well meaning persons to maintain vigilance, and not to create opportunities, even inadvertently, for terrorists and their sympathizers, to achieve through domestic and international mechanisms, many of which may appear to be perfectly legitimate, what they were unable to achieve through bullets, suicide bombs and the destruction of innocent lives. The encouragement of one group, in whatever form, will send a clear message to the others to adjust their tactics.
Terror groups are resorting to increasingly sophisticated means to sustain their activities, through the cultivation of linkages to international organized crime. These linkages mean that terrorists and their front organizations profit from human trafficking and arms trafficking, money laundering, credit card fraud, and cyber-crimes. Surprisingly, some otherwise respected members of society may be part of these networks. In Sri Lanka, even in the post-conflict phase, LTTE related networks in transit and destination countries still continue to exploit human misery. Sri Lanka continues to be negatively affected by this problem as these networks rely on disseminating a false image of the country internationally in order to sustain their activities in the host States.
Sri Lanka wishes to emphasize that the root causes of terrorism are complex and that terrorism cannot be associated with any ethnicity or religion. The threat and means of countering terrorism should not be viewed primarily in a military context. Therefore, Sri Lanka has been taking steps which encompass the political, economic and social spheres to ensure that the seeds of terrorism will never find fertile soil in our land. Our reconstruction, rehabilitation, and reconciliation efforts are carefully calibrated and designed to ensure that terrorism will never raise its ugly head in the country.
In conclusion, my delegation wishes to remind that our deliberations here have the potential for real and lasting impacts on counter-terrorism strategies, and thereby to end or lessen the misery and human suffering wrought by acts of terror. The United Nations remains the primary body to spearhead the global campaign against terror. It is encouraging to note that Member States are coordinating their counter-terrorism efforts and continuing their legal norm-setting work through the General Assembly. We endorse this approach. The Security Council has also addressed this issue through resolutions and by establishing several subsidiary bodies. In this regard, Sri Lanka reaffirms its commitment to the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy that consolidates the activities of the Member States and presents a common strategic and operational framework to fight terrorism and protect the right to life.
Thank You Mr. Chairman.