The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday to step up the global campaign against terrorism, calling on all nations to prosecute or extradite anyone supporting, financing or participating in terrorist acts.
The 15-0 vote culminated weeks of negotiations by Russia, which introduced the resolution after militants staged a series of attacks there, including the suicide hijacking of two airplanes and the hostage-taking of a school in Beslan. It was adopted a day after several car bombings targeted Israelis at Egyptian resorts in Sinai.
“We think these events stressed even more the urgency to take further practical steps in the fight against terrorism, and we consider the U.N. is the best coordinator in this fight,” said Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Alexander Konuzin.
The resolution “condemns in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism irrespective of their motivation, whenever and by whomsoever committed, as one of the most serious threats to peace and security.”
It urges all countries “to cooperate fully in the fight against terrorism, especially with those states where or against whose citizens terrorist acts are committed.” It calls on all states to bring to justice any person involved in planning, financing, carrying out or providing safe haven to those involved in terrorist acts “on the basis of the principle to extradite or prosecute.”
Not aimed at al-Qaida, Taliban
The resolution creates a Security Council working group to study measures to be taken against terrorists and terrorist groups not affiliated with al-Qaida or Afghanistan’s former Taliban rulers.
The council has already imposed stiff sanctions against those groups, requiring all 191 U.N. member states to impose a travel ban and arms embargo against a list of those linked to al-Qaida or the Taliban and to freeze their financial assets.
But it has not examined what actions to take against other terrorists.
“It is important that we have agreed in principle to consider measures against terrorists other than those linked to al-Qaida,” said Algeria’s U.N. ambassador, Abdallah Baali.
Pakistan and Algeria, the only Muslim nations on the 15-member council, both expressed concern this week that language in the final draft of the resolution would make it a crime to fight in a liberation war and that a new list of terrorist subjects would be compiled.
During final negotiations, which continued into Friday morning, the text was changed to make it clear that the resolution targeted only criminal acts defined in international conventions dealing with terrorism. The reference to a possible terrorist list as one measure the working group would consider was dropped at the last minute.
Spain’s U.N. ambassador, Juan Antonio Yanez-Barnuevo, who fought hard to keep in the terrorist list, told the council afterward that he recognized that compiling names “may still involve some difficulties, but we are fully confident of the group’s ability to take on this task.”
U.S. Ambassador John Danforth said the co-sponsors of the resolution agreed that every effort would be made to create the list.
Muslim concerns said to be resolved
Immediately before the vote, Turkey’s U.N. ambassador, Umit Pamir, addressed the council on behalf of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Conference, saying that the group’s “serious misgivings” about language related to resistance to foreign occupation had been addressed and that he was “happy” with the final resolution.
Negotiators reached agreement late Thursday on a key section calling on all countries to prevent or punish “criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror ... intimidate a population ... or compel a government or international organization.”
It states that those are acts that constitute offenses in international conventions relating to terrorism. Diplomats said the phrasing eliminated open-ended language that the Algerians and the Pakistanis argued would be used to label freedom fighters as terrorists.
The Security Council working group established under the resolution is authorized to examine and recommend practical measures “to be imposed upon individuals, groups or entities involved in or associated with terrorist activities” who are not subject to al-Qaida or Taliban sanctions.
It also would consider the possibility of establishing an international fund to compensate victims of terrorist acts and their families, possibly financed through voluntary contributions and from assets seized from terrorist organizations, their members and sponsors.