11 September 2002
On September 11, U.N. Restates Resolve to Fight Terrorism
(Security Council holds meeting on anniversary of terrorist
By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent
United Nations -- Meeting in "remembrance and resolve" world leaders
gathered at the United Nations September 11 and made the international
fight against terrorism the centerpiece of the UN's observances of the
terrorist attacks on the United States September 11.
Heads of state, foreign ministers, and other senior officials from
around the world gathering at the UN for the opening session of the
57th General Assembly, attended a special Security Council meeting to
reaffirm their dedication to fighting terrorism. In the morning, a
commemoration ceremony was held on the north lawn of the UN complex as
Both the Security Council and the General Assembly met on September
12, 2001 -- the day after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New
York, the Pentagon in Washington and the plane crash in Pennsylvania
-- to condemn the terrorist attacks and call on all states to
cooperate in bringing the perpetrators to justice. Within a matter of
days the council then adopted a binding, far-reaching landmark
resolution targeting terrorists and those who aid them and setting out
means for stronger cooperation among nations.
At the anniversary Security Council meeting, U.S. Secretary of State
Colin Powell expressed the United States "abiding gratitude to all
those who reached out to us at our time of national trial."
But the secretary focused his remarks on the imperative of fighting
"Amid the fire and smoke, confusion and shock, some things became very
clear to us in the United States and to the entire international
community. It was clear that the terrorists did not just strike
America, they attacked the values of the civilized world that are
enshrined in the United Nations Charter. It was clear that terrorism
is a threat to international peace and security and it was clear that
all the world's nations had to take concerted action if this menace
was to be eradicated once and for all," the secretary said.
"We are all in this together," he said.
In the past 12 months much has been accomplished, Powell said. "We
have taken decisive steps to weaken terrorism's deadly grip on various
parts of the globe, not least on Afghanistan.... In the world, the
international community is making it harder by the day for terrorists
to support their operations, acquire weapons of mass destruction, move
about freely, find sanctuary, communicate and plot."
Thanks to the combined efforts of nations, every day, somewhere in the
world terrorists are being arrested, cells are being broken up,
financial bloodlines severed, plans disrupted, and attacks foiled, the
The actions "have shown the power of our collective will," Powell
said. Nevertheless, the secretary warned that to eliminate terrorism
as a global menace the fight has to be more than a response to
September 11 and it will be a "long, hard effort measured in years,
not in months."
The council issued a presidential statement read by the President of
Bulgaria Georgi Parzanov. Bulgaria holds the presidency of the council
for the month of September.
"The threat is real, the challenge is enormous, and the fight against
terrorism will be long," the statement said. "The Security Council
will remain steadfast against the threat that endangers all that has
been achieved, and all that remains to be achieved, to fulfil the
principles and purposes of the United Nations for all people
In its statement, the council reiterated its support for the coalition
that took action against the Taliban, al-Qaeda and their supporters;
resolution 1373 which made the fight against terrorism a mandatory
obligation for UN member states; and the Counter-Terrorism Committee.
"New York is the home of the United Nations," the statement said. "The
Security Council admires this city's determination to forge ahead, to
rebuild, not to give into terrorism. The deaths and destruction of 11
September strengthen our common bonds and aspirations."
Secretary General Kofi Annan said that "the past year has given us
hope that terrorism can be defeated if the international community
summons the will to unite in a broad coalition. As the work of this
council has shown, the United Nations remains uniquely positioned to
serve as the forum for this coalition, and for the development of
those steps governments must now take -- separately and together -- to
combat terrorism on a global scale."
At a the morning commemoration ceremony the president of the 57th
General Assembly session, Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic, and
representatives of the UN staff joined the secretary general and U.S.
Ambassador John Negroponte in remembering the victims of the attacks.
"There could be no greater affront to the spirit and purpose of the
United Nations than the terrorist attacks of September 11," the
secretary general said. "Everything we work for -- peace, development,
health, freedom -- is damaged by this horror. Everything that we
believe in -- respect for human life, justice, tolerance, pluralism
and democracy -- is threatened by it. It must be defeated by the world
acting as one."
The United Nations, Annan said, is not an enclave somehow isolated
from the rest of the city. "We at the United Nations are, in the
deepest sense of the word, a part of this community."
Negroponte said that "September 11, 2001 reminded us -- and will
always remind us -- that every day is precious. Every day is a
struggle between doing what is right and what is wrong."
"Today we honor the victims' inspiring lives. We also give thanks for
those heroes who, in the last twelve months, have made the ultimate
sacrifice in driving terror from the face of the earth so that the
worst part of September 11, 2001 might become history and the best
part -- the miracle of constructive human endeavor -- might become the
future," the U.S. ambassador said.
The United States is grateful for the solidarity against terrorism
demonstrated so forcefully by the General Assembly and the Security
Council, the ambassador said. "We must make common cause against
terror and we have made common cause against terror."
"A great coalition of states has taken action against the Taliban, al
Qaeda and their supporters. In President Bush's words, justice is
being served, and the high purposes of the UN charter are being
fulfilled," Negroponte said.
Kavan, president of the General Assembly which opened its 57th session
September 10, appealed to the UN's 190 member states "to uphold and
reinforce the coalition carrying out our common responsibility to
fight international terrorism."
"In our fight we must see terrorism for what it is -- a global evil
filled with hatred and extremism, an evil which threatens the common
values and principles, as well as the diversity, of the entire
civilized world. We cannot let terrorism hide behind faith or culture.
Terrorism is our irreconcilable enemy and any attempt to appease it
will backfire," the assembly president said.
While the commemoration is symbolic, Kavan said, "in our work at the
United Nations we must go beyond words -- we must produce results in
the form of practical steps to suppress the menace of terrorism at its
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