Peaceful Dialogue and Cooperation as an Option

By Cowen, Brian | Presidents & Prime Ministers, September-October 2001 | Go to article overview

Peaceful Dialogue and Cooperation as an Option


Cowen, Brian, Presidents & Prime Ministers


There are moments in history so defining and so etched in the memory of all who witness them, that they become landmarks in time, defining events that change history and lead to new impulses of resolve and determination.

On September 11, 2001, such a moment occurred as the forces of international terrorism struck the people of the United States with a viciousness and evil of purpose that caused revulsion and horror around the world.

These acts of barbarous terrorism and the determined international response that must necessarily follow do not, as some have suggested, represent a conflict between civilizations or a religious war. International terrorism strikes at universal values, including that of religious tolerance, on which the United Nations is founded. Our collective response to these out-rages must uphold these values and bring stark relief to the differences that divide those who uphold the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and those, hiding in our midst, who would seek to subvert them.

International terrorism must be denied the means and the opportunity to launch attacks in pursuit of a cause or a perceived grievance. There can be no exceptions. This calls for a firm resolve. The defeat of terrorism will take time, and it cannot be achieved in the absence of a total commitment by governments to the task and without the widest possible cooperation between them.

The General Assembly has done excellent work over the years in addressing various aspects of terrorism and in establishing the measures that member states need to take. This work must now be carried on with a greater sense of urgency to achieve the full complement of international instruments that is required. Of course, reaching agreements on conventions in this assembly is clearly not enough and neither is a signature. The record of signature, ratification and implementation has been disappointing and this work must now move right to the front of our agenda. It is by our actions alone that we can demonstrate our determination to succeed.

Action has already been forthcoming in the Security Council and in the General Assembly. We the people of the United Nations are saying to the terrorists; you do not act for us. We reject your campaign of death and murder, your path is the road to destruction of everything we cherish and all that the United Nations embodies and reflects. We will act together to ensure that you do not prevail. We must meet the threat of international terrorism on three levels.

First, we must, as member states of the United Nations, do all we can, in accordance with Resolution 1368, to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of the attacks of September 11, 2001, and to prevent further atrocities.

Secondly, we must combine a longer-term initiative to defeat the monster of international terrorism, by choking off its funds, by cutting its supply of munitions and technical support and by denying it the bases from which it plans and prepares its actions.

Thirdly, we must redouble our efforts to put an end to the many conflicts and injustices, which, while they can never justify the horrors of September 11, 2001, are exploited by the terrorists to garner support for their warped philosophies.

At the first level, dealing with the immediate security threat, the Security Council has acknowledged, in Resolutions 1368 and 1373, the inherent right of individual and collective self-defense, as recognized under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The United States has suffered a most grievous assault.

Who can reasonably argue that the U.S. does not have the right to defend itself, in a targeted and proportionate manner, by bringing to justice those who planned, perpetrated and assisted in these outrages and who continue to threaten international peace and security?

Ireland is seeking to play its part in efforts to respond to the immediate terrorist threat by cooperating in police investigations and by opening our airspace and airports to aircraft operating in pursuit of Resolution 1368. …

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