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UN: U.S. Introduces Measure To Fight Terrorism

  • Robert McMahon

The United Nations Security Council has begun consideration of a resolution that would require countries to make terrorism a criminal offense. The U.S.-sponsored resolution -- which could be approved in the coming days -- would require U.N. member states to freeze terrorist-related funds and prevent the movement of individuals and groups suspected of having terrorist connections. On another front, the United Nations appealed for a massive increase in humanitarian aid for Afghan civilians.

United Nations, 28 September 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The United States has introduced a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council seeking to freeze the financial assets and halt the movement of anyone linked to terrorist attacks.

The resolution, announced 27 September, would criminalize the acts of providing or collecting funds used to carry out terrorist acts. It would require states to bring to justice anyone who has participated in the financing, planning, preparation, or perpetration of such acts and deny them safe haven.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Negroponte, told reporters that the resolution draws upon past measures already approved by the United Nations. There are currently 12 U.N. conventions approved by the General Assembly, but they have had mixed results, in part because some countries have not passed domestic legislation to implement them.

But Negroponte says the draft resolution could be an effective weapon against terrorism.

"I think it's important in terms of enlisting the operational cooperation of all the other member states of the world. This will be, once adopted, binding on all the member states."

The U.S. proposal would invoke Chapter Seven of the United Nations charter, which makes its provisions mandatory on all countries right away. If adopted, it would add to the momentum forming a global coalition to react to the attacks in New York and Washington that killed more than 6,000 people.

The resolution does not seek to define terrorism, a point of contention among some U.N. members who back independence movements. But Council President Jean-David Levitte of France says he expects experts from the 15 states on the Security Council to make sure there is agreement on that issue. The draft resolution calls for the council to set up a committee to monitor the implementation of the measure.

The resolution also calls for closer cooperation between law enforcement agencies on national, regional, and international levels, on crimes ranging from money-laundering to the smuggling of nuclear materials.

Levitte says there is a "unanimous will" in the council to consider all aspects of the U.S. proposal and work for its adoption by 30 October. He says the Council considers terrorism a threat to peace and security.

"We have a responsibility to do what is needed to fight this scourge, and we consider the text presented by the U.S. ambassador as a good basis on which all delegations can work."

The United Nations General Assembly is due to debate the issue of terrorism starting on 1 November, with the intention of strengthening the international commitment to battling the problem.

The United Nations Charter permits states to act in self-defense when attacked. A council resolution the day after the 11 September attacks expressed the council's readiness to take "all necessary steps" in reaction.

On a separate front yesterday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched an emergency appeal for donors to provide $584 million in aid for Afghan civilians. Millions of Afghan citizens are already heavily dependent on relief aid for survival, but Annan says the events of the last two weeks have caused conditions to deteriorate further.

He says the money will be focused on food, shelter, and medical supplies for Afghans.

"That [aid] figure reflects a potential increase of nearly 50 percent -- from over 5 million to 7.5 million -- in the number of people relying on foreign aid for their survival. It also implies a substantial increase in the number of internally displaced people, as well as potential massive outflow of refugees."

U.N. officials expect about 1.5 million new refugees to flee the latest crisis, most of them to Pakistan. About 400,000 refugees are expected in Iran, and 50,000 in both Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. The U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kenzo Oshima, is headed to Pakistan and Iran to review the state of readiness of U.N. humanitarian facilities there.

Annan says the scale of the crisis has brought about a change in U.N. management structures with the creation of the post of regional humanitarian coordinator. He says this reflects concerns about the impact of the crisis on Afghanistan's neighbors. The regional coordinator, Michael Sackett, will be based in Islamabad and will organize the aid efforts of U.N. agencies and non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

All foreign U.N. humanitarian staff have left Afghanistan in advance of expected U.S. military actions against suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden. The Taliban have since shut down the aid-distribution system in most of the country and seized U.N. equipment.

U.N. officials are contemplating performing air drops of emergency aid for Afghan civilians. The deputy emergency relief coordinator, Carolyn McAskie, told reporters there are numerous problems preventing aid officials from bringing supplies to destitute Afghans.

"Even Uzbekistan is not willing to open its borders. Even Tajikistan is anxious not to do so. And the trucks that are available are being used by people trying to flee the country."

Earlier yesterday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged nations to build a humanitarian coalition for Afghans that would match the efforts underway against bin Laden and the Taliban. At a conference of Afghan aid donors in Berlin, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the world will not abandon the Afghan people, whose suffering has worsened considerably under Taliban rule.