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Homeland Security

PRESS BRIEFING BY CHAIRMAN OF SECURITY COUNCIL COUNTER-TERRORISM COMMITTEE

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

19 January 2005

Andrey Denisov, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations and Chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), and Javier Rupérez, Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), briefed correspondents this afternoon on the upcoming special meeting of the CTC with international, regional and subregional organizations to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from 26 to 28 January. The Almaty meeting was co-sponsored by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Government of Kazakhstan.

Giving an update on current CTC activities, Mr. Denisov said the Security Council had extended his duties as Committee Chairman until 31 March, after which Ellen Margrethe Lǿj (Denmark) would take over. The Council had also endorsed the composition of the new Bureau, with Algeria, Brazil and Greece elected as Vice-Chairs. Yesterday, the Council had endorsed the CTC’s fourteenth 90-day programme of work, which would cover the final stage of the CTC revitalization process. The CTED was functioning, but in the coming 90 days, additional measures would be needed in order to complete the organizational reform of the Committee and to make the CTED fully operational.

He said particular importance was being attached to forthcoming visits of the CTC to Member States, as well as to making technical assistance more effective and tailoring it to the needs of States interested in enhancing their counter-terrorism capacity. To ensure a leading and more proactive role for the CTC in building a global counter-terrorism network, special importance was attached to enhancing its practical cooperation with other key players in those activities, namely international, regional and subregional organizations in all areas related to implementation of resolution 1373 (2001). That resolution -- the “bible” for counter-terrorism activities -- was adopted shortly after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Mr. Rupérez said that the CTED’s first three meetings had been held in: Washington D.C, with the Organization of American States; in New York, organized by the United Nations; and in Vienna, Austria, organized in conjunction with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC. The meetings had been convened in response to the need for greater cooperation between the CTC and international, regional and functional organizations, which knew better the specific needs of the countries concerned. The Almaty meeting would offer a “new frontier” for cooperation between the United Nations and regional and functional organizations.

He said 40 organizations would be attending the Almaty meeting and it was to be hoped that a joint communiqué could be presented to the world, as well as a programme of action for the months to come. The year 2005 would be a “momentous” one for United Nations counter-terrorism activities. The report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, challenges and Change had dedicated a chapter to terrorism, asking the United Nations to present the world with a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy. Most likely, 2005 would be the year when that comprehensive strategy would be developed.

Asked when the CTC would start making recommendations regarding countries that were not complying with resolution 1373 (2001), Mr. Denisov said that the main objective of the CTC and the CTED was to help States to increase their counter-terrorism capacity and to provide advice. The Committee had collected reports and was now ready to go to its next phase -- providing assistance after needs assessment. Some countries were advancing in their implementation, while others were lagging. The main reason for the delay was not denial of the resolution’s importance, but lack of capacity.

He said evaluation was a complicated task, and the CTC had just completed building its own capacity. Now, the assessment stage could start. The Committee had received some 551 reports and 75 countries were late. The Committee’s objective was not to punish, but to assist.

Mr. Rupérez added that there was a need for better coordination between all United Nations bodies dealing with counter-terrorism. Those included the Security Council’s 1267 Committee on Al-Qaida and the Taliban; the Committee dealing with weapons of mass destruction in the hands of non-State actors, deriving from resolution 1450 (2002); and the new working group that would address the need to enlarge the United Nations’ list of terrorist groups and individuals, deriving from resolution 1566 (2004). There was also the matter of creating a fund to help the victims of terrorism and their families.

He said he would also like to take some initiatives regarding the subsidiary bodies of the Council and the Secretariat in other fields. The General Assembly had been trying to put together a comprehensive convention on terrorism and on nuclear weapons. It would be extremely important for the Assembly’s Sixth Committee (Legal) to finalize both conventions.

To a question about the opinion that there was no difference between a terrorist and a resistance fighter and how that squared with what certain Council members said about groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Mr. Denisov replied that last October’s resolution 1566 had been adopted by consensus with the aim of enhancing the Council’s capability in counter-terrorism activities. Operative paragraph 9 provided for the establishment of a working group to examine the criteria for terrorism activities and to offer a broader base for including entities or individuals in the list of terrorists or those with links to terrorist activities.

Mr. Rupérez said he had never characterized the possible relationship between terrorism and freedom movements, and had always said there was no justification for acts of terrorism. The report of the High-Level Panel stated that acts of terrorism were never justified, not even by occupation. There was not reason, be it nationalistic, religious, political or ethnic, that justified the killing of innocents.

Asked for a definition of terrorism, Mr. Rupérez said the United Nations had not been able to reach consensus on that, but its elements could be found in many places. They included political motivation, the killing of civilians and the objective of achieving some degree of political manipulation or pressure on governments or organizations. The definition was a political problem, not so much a legal one.

Mr. Denisov added that the lack of a definition was troublesome, but not an obstacle. It did not give permission to stop working. One had to start from practical requirements and needs.

As for why Kazakhstan had been chosen for the special CTC meeting, Mr. Denisov said the CIS was the host of the meeting and Kazakhstan was a member of the CIS. A number of CIS members, including the Russian Federation, had been victims of terrorist attacks. Mr. Rupérez added that the Central Asia region was full of promises but also full of problems regarding terrorism. The presence of the United Nations in Almaty should be seen as a symbol and a wish to help.

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