|Open debate on Threats to International Peace and Security Causes by Terrorist Acts|
|Tuesday, 09 December 2008 17:11|
Statement by Ambassador H. M. G. S. Palihakkara, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations at the Open debate on Threats to International Peace and Security Causes by Terrorist Acts at the United Nations Security Council.
The threat to international peace and security caused by terrorism has serious consequences for humanity. It debases the traditional ethos on which States and Societies are founded. It seeks to put asunder well established norms and institutions of governance. Most importantly, it denies people their basic rights and fundamental freedoms.
Thank you for convening this open debate on “Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts.” We appreciate His Excellency the President of Croatia for his chairmanship of this important discussion. His presence as well as renewed interest in this debate signifies the importance of this subject in today’s context.
The threat to international peace and security caused by terrorism has serious consequences for humanity. It debases the traditional ethos on which States and Societies are founded. It seeks to put asunder well established norms and institutions of governance. Most importantly, it denies people their basic rights and fundamental freedoms. Terrorism has assumed international dimensions through a mix of destructive transnational networks. These networks hum with activities like fund raising, trafficking of people, drugs and illicit arms including possible WMD capabilities. They propagate hate literature and other forms of transnational subversion. As a former UN Secretary General once put it, the growing nexus between these activities, including through the dynamics of globalization, could constitute ‘a supra national subversive threat’ to international peace and security.
The debate is also timely and topical. The world has barely recovered from the shock of recent terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in Mumbai, the commercial hub of our neighbour and friend, India. More terror attacks on more places in many of our countries continue on a daily basis. The orgy of attacks has led to death and injury to numerous innocent civilians. This is in addition to enormous losses to infrastructure and economy caused by such acts of mindless violence. These types of attacks by terrorists, whether they are from within the region, or outside , or from even our own countries including my country, where one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the world, the LTTE remains a threat, demonstrate the growing transnational dimension of this scourge. Terrorists get emboldened by their so called tactical successes like these, and as the Secretary General said this morning, get carried away by the publicity they get for whatever cause they espouse. They then become intransigent at the negotiating table and brazenly walk out of ‘peace talks’ when Governments offer negotiable compromises as democratic solutions at negotiations. Then they go international, ideologically, diplomatically and financially. Through almost twenty five years of successive efforts by the elected Governments to negotiate political solutions, this is exactly the situation today engendered by the so called ‘Tiger(LTTE) terrorism’ in Sri Lanka and abroad. This requires a robust deterrent response to the LTTE brand of terrorism and political solutions to its root causes. This is Sri Lanka’s approach to the issue at discussion.
Democracies today have become especially vulnerable to terrorism and its international manifestations. The basic guarantees of fundamental rights and freedoms as well as the political space available to different actors in a democracy are increasingly exploited and constrained by elements which are bent on achieving their political or other objectives by unbridled terrorism. LTTE is a glaring example.
The Security Council has addressed the threat of terrorism in its different resolutions, particularly, Resolution 1267 and Resolution 1373. The Council remains preoccupied with Al –Qaeda, Taliban and associated groups against which specific targeted measures through listing, naming and shaming, have been taken.
Resolution 1373, on the other hand, provides a common framework for international cooperation in taking specific and comprehensive measures against terrorism irrespective of the type of perpetrators of such atrocious acts. It is imperative that States take resolute action to expedite the implementation of the preventative measures and safeguards envisaged in the interest of larger humanity. The UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy remains a vital instrument in this collective effort since it puts a premium on cooperation among different actors on the global scene. Strengthened by the norms and standards created by the General Assembly and specific targeted measures prescribed by the Security Council, the Strategy can play a critical role in our efforts to secure humanity from this scourge. The Counter Terrorism Task Force, the Executive Directorate as well as other multilateral mechanisms and several international legal instruments relevant to combating terrorism can be synergized through the Global Strategy. This collectivity would provide an appropriate architecture for harnessing global efforts in combating and eliminating this clear and present threat to peace and security within and among the member states of this organization.
It is high time that we galvanized all these mechanisms and measures into concrete actions against individuals and entities engaged in terrorism, without seeking to discriminate between terrorist groups on the basis of their real or assumed cause or grievance. We have learnt painfully over the years, in different place from Mumbai to Karachi, and from Colombo to New York, no cause or concern justifies terrorism. The common goal of such brutal violence is annihilation and destruction, anti-thesis of what UN and the international community stand for.
Concrete actions should be taken on several fronts. They should be multidimensional, yet interconnected and, coordinated. Such actions range from technical surveillance of potential acts of terrorism at planning stages by the entities or their front organizations to prevention and interdiction of illicit trafficking of people, arms, ammunition and other offensive material. This should be done at the supply end as well, not solely relying on action at the receiving end which is the case at present in most situations. While there is a comprehensive legal regime and reasonable implementation mechanisms against terrorist fund raising and financial channels, there is no robust functional tracking and interdiction system yet in place against the acquisition and air/sea transportation of offensive assets deployable by terrorist groups which are banned worldwide. The interdiction and non-proliferation systems that exist for WMD are either unable or unwilling to be harnessed for what is clearly an equally dangerous threat to international peace and security i.e. the free movement of terrorist hardware across the frontiers, high seas and by air. Some terrorist groups like the LTTE have audaciously acquired rudimentary aviation capability indicative of their intention to become a regional hub for trafficking weapons. There should be more determined mutual assistance and international cooperation in ensuring that terrorist groups do not acquire such transnational capabilities whether through Diaspora assistance or through geo-political manipulations.
We need to continuously emphasize the importance of well- established legal principles such as “prosecute” or “extradite” regime and mutual legal assistance between and among countries, as well as increased cooperation within and among regional organizations in dealing with terrorists and their infrastructure.
In 2006, the Security Council adopted an important resolution with a view to making its coverage on terrorism more inclusive. Resolution 1566 requires urgent attention and action by the Council and other members of the UN for its specific focus on individuals and groups other than those covered by Resolution 1267. The resolution calls for identification of specific measures against such groups, which, in our view, also include internationally banned groups such as the LTTE. It is unfortunate that the Working Group established by Resolution 1566 has yet to address the critical issues with the attention they deserve.
Along with other members of the United Nations, Sri Lanka finds it timely to urge the Security Council to devote more efforts to bring a balance in its current counter terrorism focus so that it could provide comprehensive approach to the security dimension of the challenge of terrorism. Only such an approach which does not discriminate between terrorist groups will enable member States and the international community to take decisive measures against the perpetrators or terrorism in a coherent and coordinated manner.
Conceived in cold blood and executed uncompromisingly, the ruthless attacks in India, which we have condemned unreservedly, are a pointer to how the agents of terror, both external and home-grown, are fine tuning their strategies and tactics. This coordination reveals a dangerous trend of deadly cooperation among such networks at all levels, national, sub-regional, regional and international, thereby confronting us with an expanding prospect of globalization of terrorism. Collective, coherent and resolute action of international cooperation is therefore imperative. This is necessary so that terror groups like the LTTE do not seek and abuse the cover of ceasefires to acquire and operate illegal merchant fleets under the flags of convenience, as they do now, to transport weapons and build commercial networks with other terror groups like Al-Qaeda as was reported by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London for several years now. Such actions of international cooperation could have prevented the LTTE from abusing a longstanding ceasefire to illegally acquire an aviation capability that can threaten stability and security abroad while undermining democratic conflict resolution processes at home. The policy and legal regimes of the Council Resolutions such as 1373 should be given more functional teeth. There is no more demanding time than today to prove that we are equal to this task. We therefore welcome the Presidential statement of the Council in that regard.