Measures to Prevent Terrorism, Protection of Diplomats Discussed in Legal Committee

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Measures to prevent terrorism, protection of diplomates discussed in Legal Committee

Debate on measures to prevent international terrorism and to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives dominated the work of the Sixth (Legal) Committee in October.

Circulated during the month in the Committee were three draft resolutions on the international terrorism item.

The first, sponsored by Colombia, would have the General Assembly urge all States to contribute to the progresive elimination of the causes of international terrorism, to take all measures for a speedy and final elimination of the problem, and to support and strengthen the international agreements against terrorism.

The second, sponsored by Angola, Cuba and other States, would have the Assembly recognize that, in order to contribute to eliminating the causes of international terrorism, the Assembly and the Security Council should pay special attention to all situations that might give rise to such terrorism, with a view to applying, where feasible and necessary, relevant Charter provisions, including Chapter VII.

The third draft--sponsored by 17 States, most of them Western--would have the Assembly urge all States not to permit "alleged political motivation or circumstances' to obstruct the application of all appropriate law enforcement measures provided for in relevant conventions to persons who committed acts of international terrorism covered by those conventions.

Terrorism

Carl August Fleischhauer, United Nations Legal Counsel, told the Committee that as at 5 August 1985, the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages had been ratified or acceded to by 27 States and signed by 40 nations. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, now had 65 States parties. In 1983, he said, the Assembly had appealed to States to become parties to existing international coventions on terrorism. Participation by States in such agreements was part of international cooperative efforts to deal with terrorism, he said.

In his report on the work of the Organization (A/40/1), the Secretary-General had stated that acts of terrorism had spread "to virtually all parts of the globe' and were "exceptionally difficult to cope with since they involve desperate acts by desperate people willing to violate national and international law regardless of the risk to their own lives'. The most tragic aspect of that problem was the "increasing loss of innocent civilian lives', he said. Governments should implement the relevant international legal instruments, and might wish to consider what further measures of international co-operation could be effectively devised.

Debate

Colombia called for an end to terrorism which had become a form of war against the interests of free nations, democratic practices and any peaceful solution guaranteed by international law. Political, economic and social situations that gave rise to terrorism must be remedied. Ideological divergences must be transcended and universally acceptable measures adopted. (Continued on page 102)

Angola said the growing practice of terrorism made it necessary to differentiate between all other forms of terrorism and state terrorism, which was the most dangerous and the favoured method of action of certain States to dominate others. Terrorist acts were fomented under various pretexts, such as safeguarding the vital interests of the West and "constructive engagement'. Angola, Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe had been victims of terrorism at the hands of South Africa which supported armed groups aiming to destabilize those countries.

Belgium, on behalf of the European Community, Portugal and Spain, said because of its barbarity, terrorism could not be justified by the objectives pursued. …