Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
Measures to eliminate international terrorism
Agenda item 99
New York, 8 October 2008
At the outset, Mr. Chair, allow me to congratulate you on your election as the Chairperson of the Sixth Committee. Congratulations also go to other members of the Bureau on their election.
Terrorism is a global problem. Each and every person, organisation or state, wherever they may be in the world, are susceptible to terrorist attack. Size or power is no insurance against terrorists. Anyone can fall victim and not a day goes without some country suffering terrorist acts. The heinous attack on the UN offices in Algiers last December reminds us once again how present the danger is and how real the threat is. Iceland unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
This grave and global problem calls for resolute global responses and the United Nations have a crucial role to play in achieving our common objectives in combating terrorism. The adoption of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in 2006 was a welcome achievement and an important step towards coordinating our efforts in this area. The responsibility for implementation of the strategy, however, lies with the Member States. The reaffirmation of the Strategy and the review of its implementation here in New York last month was therefore an important step towards more effective and better coordinated measures against terrorists. I would also like to commend the work of the UN Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force, in particular for the establishment of the 9 specialized working groups and for its support to Member States. We have high hopes that the better we, the Member States, organize and cooperate the more difficult it becomes for the terrorists to operate. The strategy, however, must remain a living instrument in order to always respond to the most current situations.
Important as our common counter-terrorism strategy may be, more concerted action on behalf of Member States is needed. The strategy complements and supports the 16 international conventions and protocols relating to measures against terrorism which have been elaborated within the framework of the United Nations, as well as the 14 regional conventions. Together these instruments constitute an arsenal to fight different aspects of the scourge of terrorism. In order for these conventions to be effective, all states must become parties to them. Iceland is a party to all the 13 universal legal instruments to prevent terrorist acts as well as the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism.
The aforementioned legal and strategic framework are important bricks in our protective wall against terrorism but more remains to be done. The Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 met in February to continue discussion on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and the convening of a high-level conference in order to formulate a joint organized response by Member States to international terrorism. Even though consensus has yet to be reached, we remain confident that progress will be made in the near future.
The fundamental and far-reaching work of the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies must not be left out in this context. The SC resolutions dealing with terrorism in one form or another, the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the work of the Security Council on this issue in general is probably one of the most direct ways the United Nations system has to harmonize the efforts of the Member States in this field. We look forward to more transparency, closer cooperation and more effective implementation of these obligations in the future.
Much has been done to counter terrorism and protect international peace and security. Nevertheless, terrorist acts continue to be committed. We must not accept that as self-evident and must never become numb to its horror. We must renew our collective efforts and resolve, as responsible Member States, to counter this scourge and bring the perpetrators to justice. In doing so we have to base all our efforts on the rule of law and respect for human rights, including humanitarian law and refugee law. The only acceptable measures to eliminate international terrorism are those that respect these fundamental principles of the United Nations. Iceland remains dedicated to these principles and is convinced that they constitute the key to success in the fight against international terrorism. If we abandon these principles the terrorists will have succeeded in harming the very foundations of this most important organization in the world.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.