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Homeland Security

Annex to A/57/273

Report of the Policy Working Group on the United Nations
and Terrorism

Summary | I.Introduction | II. Dissuasion | III. Denial | IV. Cooperation | V. Recommendations | Appendix


The Policy Working Group considered that the United Nations should concentrate its direct role in counter-terrorism on the areas in which the Organization has a comparative advantage. In general terms, the United Nations should uphold, bolster and reassert the leading principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter, the core of which are undermined and threatened by terrorism. The Organization's activities should be part of a tripartite strategy supporting global efforts to: (a) Dissuade disaffected groups from embracing terrorism;
(b) Deny groups or individuals the means to carry out acts of terrorism;
(c) Sustain broad-based international cooperation in the struggle against terrorism.

In efforts at dissuasion, the Organization has made and ought to continue to make its contribution through norm setting, human rights and communications. The United Nations has a primary role in preparing for the adoption and effective implementation of legal instruments. It should institute a periodic review of the existing treaty regime, and must underscore the linkages between instruments of international criminal law and counter-terrorism conventions.

At the same time, the United Nations must ensure that the protection of human rights is conceived as an essential concern. Terrorism often thrives where human rights are violated, which adds to the need to strengthen action to combat violations of human rights. Terrorism itself should also be understood as an assault on basic rights. In all cases, the fight against terrorism must be respectful of international human rights obligations.

In its public pronouncements, the United Nations should project a clear and principled message, underscoring the unacceptability of terrorism, highlighting the Organization's role in addressing and preventing it, and ensuring that the fight against terrorism does not obscure the core work of the United Nations. These messages must be targeted to key audiences - particularly to achieve a greater impact in dissuading would-be supporters of terrorist acts. The work of the Department of Public Information and the United Nations information centres must be enhanced to this end.

The unique mandate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee places it at the centre of United Nations activities to deny opportunities for the commission of acts of terrorism. The United Nations system as a whole must ensure its readiness to support the Committee's efforts to achieve the implementation of measures to counter terrorism. One specific area in which United Nations agencies can provide assistance in this process is through the development of model legislation for Member States' compliance with international instruments and pertinent resolutions.

Given concerns that terrorists may seek access to stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction or related technologies, United Nations activities in the field of disarmament must gain renewed relevance. In addition to reinforcing its work in this arena and to enhancing its capacity to assist the Counter-Terrorism Committee, when needed, the Department of Disarmament Affairs should draw public attention to the threat posed by the potential use of weapons of mass destruction in terrorist acts.

Preventive action, especially measures to strengthen the capacity of States, can help to create inhospitable environments for terrorism. This may be achieved through effective post-conflict peace-building and by ensuring that peacekeeping mandates are sensitive to issues related to terrorism.

In order to render international efforts to counter terrorism effective, cooperation between the United Nations and other international actors must be made more systematic, ensuring an appropriate division of labour based on comparative advantage. Specifically, the next high-level meeting between the United Nations and regional organizations in 2003 should establish terrorism as an agenda item, with the goal of developing an international action plan.

Similarly, the United Nations family must ensure a higher degree of internal coordination and coherence. This effort will require periodic reviews by the Executive Committee on Peace and Security of United Nations work on terrorism and even the strengthening of some offices, notably the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention of the United Nations Secretariat. The United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination should review system-wide activity in order to ensure that coordination is taking place.

Summary | I.Introduction | II. Dissuasion | III. Denial | IV. Cooperation | V. Recommendations | Appendix

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