United Nations, 15 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Still lacking a UN definition for terrorism, the Security Council has approved a measure seeking to toughen international measures to prevent terrorist acts.
A council meeting yesterday that included the heads of state and government of the 15 Security Council members unanimously approved a resolution calling on states to adopt measures that include prohibiting by law any incitement to commit terrorist acts. The measure also calls for states to deny safe haven to anyone involved in terrorism and to strengthen travel controls to combat movement of terrorists.
Muslim and Arab states led by Egypt and Iran sought to add a section to a draft terrorism definition that excludes actions done in support of the "struggle for independence."
The resolution is a British initiative, spurred on by the country's response to terrorist attacks on the London transit system in July. It condemns in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism "whenever and by whomsoever committed, as one of the most serious threats to peace and security."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair described the terrorism linked to groups like Al-Qaeda as an ideology aimed at poisoning relations among civilizations.
"The strategy is not just to kill, it is by terror to cause chaos and instability and to divide and confuse us, the enemy of this terrorism," he said. "It will not be defeated until our determination is as complete as theirs, our defense of freedom as absolute as their fanaticism, until our passion for the democratic way is as great as their passion for tyranny."
The resolution also calls upon all states to continue efforts to enhance dialogue and broaden understanding among cultures to prevent indiscriminate targeting of different religions. It stresses that states must comply with international human rights law, refugee law, and humanitarian law.
Romanian President Traian Basescu echoed Blair in his speech to the Security Council, condemning what he called the "ideology of terror." After the meeting, he told RFE/RL that Romania wants to see even stronger preventive measures.
"[The] Security Council must assume the responsibility to take the right decision to authorize intervention, to authorize a kind of activity able to stay, in one hand, in front of ideology, in another hand in front of terrorist acts themselves. From this point of view, I believe we don't have yet [a strong enough] resolution."
He expressed dismay at the failure of UN members to reach an agreed-on definition for terrorism ahead of the summit.
During pre-summit negotiations, Muslim and Arab states led by Egypt and Iran sought to add a section to a draft terrorism definition that excludes actions done in support of the "struggle for independence."
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said states must be aware that if they support terrorists in any form the Security Council will not hesitate to take coercive measures against them. But he echoed some of the concerns of human-rights watchdogs about overly coercive moves.
"We must defend human rights," he said. "This is essential if we are to prevent the terrorists from unraveling the very fabric of societies they attack."
Also yesterday, many Security Council representatives were among the leaders signing an international convention against nuclear terrorism, the world's 13th antiterror treaty. The treaty is a Russian initiative that makes it illegal to possess radioactive material or weapons with the intention of committing a terrorist act or to damage a nuclear facility.