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Terrorism ongoing and evolving global threat, Security Council told

With terrorist activities continuing unabated around the world, the head of a Security Council counter-terrorism body today stressed the need for all Member States to adhere to global treaties designed to combat the scourge.

“We should be as vigilant and resilient as ever and counter-terrorism should remain a priority for the international community,” Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan of Turkey told the 15-member body.

Mr. Apakan chairs the Committee monitoring the implementation of resolution 1373, the wide-ranging counter-terrorism text adopted in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

He stressed the need to continue common efforts and act in cooperation to tackle this “ongoing and evolving” threat, and noted that so far, a total of 109 States have submitted reports to the Committee on their efforts to implement resolution 1373.

Just last month, the independent UN expert on the protection of human rights while countering terrorism said that whatever justification the Council may have had in September 2001 for adopting the resolution, “its continued application nine years later cannot be seen as a proper response to a specific threat to international peace and security.

“Resolution 1373 (2001) goes beyond the powers conferred upon the Security Council and continues to pose risks to the protection of a number of international human rights standards,” Martin Scheinin stated in his annual report to the General Assembly.

He argued that it is problematic to impose binding permanent obligations for acts of terrorism which have not yet taken place because there is no universally accepted and precise definition of terrorism.

Mr. Apakan stated that the Committee considers effective counter-terrorism measures and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law as “complementary and mutually reinforcing.” It continues to remind States that counter-terrorism measures must comply with their obligations under international law, particularly international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law.

Mr. Scheinin had also cited problems with the Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions regime initiated by Council resolution 1267 of 1999, which he said were introduced 11 years ago as “a form of smart sanctions against a defined group of persons, and limited in time and space.

“They were justified with reference to a concrete threat to peace from the side of the de facto regime in Afghanistan, and the concrete aim of compelling the Taliban to hand over terrorist leader Osama bin Laden,” he said.

“While resolution 1267 (1999) could be seen as a temporary emergency measure by the Security Council,” he added, “using its Chapter VII powers to maintain a permanent list of terrorist individuals and entities anywhere in the world and to impose its application upon all Member States as a legally binding Charter obligation goes beyond the powers of the Security Council.”

Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting of Austria, chair of the so-called 1267 Committee, told the Council that the Committee held a “constructive exchange of views” with Mr. Scheinin a few weeks ago on his report and on issues related to the fairness and clearness of the Committee’s procedures.

He noted that the Committee has experienced growing criticism by States, individuals and courts because of procedural and human rights concerns. “The Committee and the Security Council have listened to these voices and have taken important steps to address many of these concerns…

“The significant strengthening of the fairness and effectiveness of the regime has not gone unnoticed,” he added.

The Council also heard from Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico, who provided an update on the recent activities of the committee dealing with resolution 1540 on combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors. He highlighted the growing cooperation between the Committee and international organizations, and the increased standardization of its work practices regarding implementation, assistance and transparency.

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