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Homeland Security

World must unite to stop terrorists from getting weapons of mass destruction - Annan

6 March United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the world to unite to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists.

"Although recent terrorist acts have been massive in their scale, future attacks could make them pale in comparison, particularly if terrorists were to acquire lethal chemical, biological or nuclear weapons," Mr. Annan told a special one-day meeting of the UN Security Council's Counter-terrorism Committee (CTC) attended by some 60 international, regional and sub-regional organizations.

"Never has it been more important to strengthen the multilateral regimes that have been developed to prevent the proliferation of such weapons," he said. "For the fight against terrorism to be effective, it is essential that we all work together to ensure that universal principles prevail over lawlessness. Cooperation among international, regional and sub-regional organizations is thus essential."

The Secretary-General also warned against sacrificing human rights in the fight against terrorism. "Our response to terrorism, as well as our efforts to thwart it and prevent it should uphold human rights that terrorists would aim to destroy," he said. "Respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law are essential tools in the effort to combat terrorism - not privileges to be sacrificed at a time of tension."

Speaking at the outset of the meeting, the CTC Chairman, Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom, said it was a "historic day" because it was the first time that a huge range of professionals, Member States and practitioners in the effort against terrorism had been brought together. "We all know that we cannot protect ourselves unilaterally," he said. "We're all threatened directly or indirectly. We can't meet our obligations effectively if we don't meet them willingly and if we don't meet them collectively."

Organizations invited to the meeting include the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the League of Arab States, the European Union (EU), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Interpol.

The CTC, entrusted with monitoring all areas covered by the Council's counter-terrorism resolution 1373 adopted in the wake of the 11 September attacks, has divided the day-long programme into three sessions: on global standards on counter-terrorism, the role of regional and sub-regional organizations in strengthening global counter-terrorism capacity, and the role of international and regional organizations on assistance.

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