The United Nations' highest executive body, the Security Council, sought to assume an increased role in international counterterrorism efforts by convening a high-level meeting to discuss coordinated action against what some regard as a growing global threat.
A number of foreign ministers and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon participated in the meeting and urged the UN's 192 member states to address the existing gaps in counterterrorism and stressed the need to ensure that the effort remains a priority on the international agenda.
Ban emphasized in his remarks that countering terrorism demands a broad approach that includes not only measures to improve security and law enforcement, but also better education, development, and intercultural dialogue. Ban said there is a strong connection between the commitment to human rights and the fight against terrorism.
"No counterterrorism approach would be complete without a full commitment to human rights and the rule of law," Ban said. "Both the Security Council and the General Assembly have consistently endorsed the protection of human rights as an integral component of any effective counter-terrorism policy, and I welcome the attention the Council has devoted to this topic."
Roots Of Terrorism
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also stressed in her remarks that human rights cannot be sacrificed in the fight against terrorism. She reminded the council that concrete steps should be taken to eliminate conditions that are driving people toward terrorism in the first place.
"For people whose lives are characterized by frustration or desperation, for people who believe that their governments are unresponsive or repressive, Al-Qaeda and other groups may offer an appealing view," Clinton said. "But it is a view rooted in destruction, and we have to provide an alternative view that is rooted in hope, opportunity, and possibility."
In addition, Clinton said, more should be done to understand the reasons people are drawn to violence to prevent others from following that path.
Britain's foreign secretary, William Hague, noted that the greatest terrorism threat in the long term emanates from the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border area. The current situation, he said, could be exacerbated by the consequences of the recent devastating floods.
Hague criticized the practice of paying ransom for kidnap victims and said that despite the moral dilemma such cases present, ransoms encourage more kidnappings and fund terrorism.
"Terrorists are adapting, and becoming more opportunistic," Hague said. "The growing trend in kidnapping for ransom is one example of this. The United Kingdom government believes that we must act to prevent kidnap ransoms becoming a significant source of terrorist finance."
'Target The Funding'
Russia's permanent representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said an issue of particular importance is to identify and neutralize the sources for funding of terrorist activities, to increase control of borders and sever ties between terrorism and organized crime.
Churkin noted as a case in point Afghanistan, where terrorism and drug production are feeding on each other. Afghanistan's drug production has grown by Moscow's estimates to the levels which are threatening international peace and security. Churkin also pointed to a very recent phenomenon -- the symbiosis between terrorism and high-sea piracy.
"Steps must be taken to ensure that terrorists will not be able to avoid punishment," Churkin said. "It is important to improve the efficiency of the international cooperation in that regard and the mutual legal assistance. The principle 'extradite or prosecute' should be applied with consistency, options for terrorist to avoid legal persecution or find themselves into a limbo legal situations must be terminated."
Russia has proposed drafting a universal treaty for extradition and legal assistance with the inclusion of an antiterrorist clause.
Moscow has also taken a tough stand at the UN against sea-piracy after two large Russian cargo-vessels were seized last year by pirates near the lawless shores of Somalia.
Churkin said there was an obvious need for additional regulation of the cyberspace to make sure it is not used for terrorist activities.
In his speech to the UN General Assembly, Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul called on the UN member states to assist his country in the fight against terrorism which is transcending national borders.
"If our international partners and allies wish to win the global war on terrorism they must look beyond the villages in Afghanistan and engage in a strategy that will effectively and decisively dismantle organizations and networks that continue with immunity to support terrorists and radical militants," Rassoul said. "Terrorism remains a global challenge which can be defeated only through a concerted international effort."