Global Counter Terrorism Strategy: Clarity eludes UN on what constitutes terrorism

The impasse has prevented the adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

Qaiser Butt October 16, 2012


Being a part of the United Nations Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, Pakistan has raised concern that the strategy might not achieve the desired results, as two of its four pillars were not getting the attention they deserved, a highly placed source in the ministry of foreign affairs said.

The four-pillar strategy, framed in 2006, was under review in 2008 and 2010, but its implementation had not been up to the expectations, the source added, requesting anonymity. In June 2012, the UN General Assembly embarked on a third review of the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.

Pillar 1 states that, “Measures are to be taken to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism.” Pillar 2 reads, “Measures should be taken to prevent and combat terrorism. Pillar 3 mentions, “Measures should be taken to build capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the United Nations system in this regard.” Pillar 4 demands, “Measures should to be taken to ensure respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as the fundamental basis of the fight against terrorism.”

The reason for the unsatisfactory outcome of the strategy was that the UN has thus far been unable to adopt an internationally agreed definition of terrorism. Meetings held at the UN to reach an agreement on the issue have been fruitless.

The impasse has prevented the adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. Even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the UN failed to adopt the Convention and the deadlock continues to this day.

The Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has also expressed its discontent over the matter. The OIC’s view is that there is a need to mark a clear distinction between terrorism and the struggle for the right to self-determination.

Pakistan also took a similar stance during a debate on the Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism at the 67th General Assembly session in September.

“Pakistan’s policy on the issue demanded that combating terrorism should not turn into a clash between the West and Islam, as it has already rejected the concept of terrorism associated with terrorism, as it has no faith, no creed and no nationality,” the source added.

“There is an urgent need to curb the tendency on the part of some countries to use the international sentiment against terrorism for advancing their own narrow agenda,’’ the official said, adding that Pakistan was steadfast in fighting terrorism to bring peace and security to its people and was fulfilling its obligations with great responsibility .

The source claimed that Pakistan believed the provision of the draft convention should clearly distinguish between acts of terrorism and the legitimate struggle of people living under foreign occupation to have the right to self determination.

“Pakistan fully endorses the UN’s role in the fight against terrorism, but it believes that any action against terrorism must be thoroughly discussed and executed by the UN”, the official concluded, while explaining Islamabad’s policy in the fight against terrorism.

edited by frayan doctor

Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2012.

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Thinker | 8 years ago | Reply

Terrorism must be defined at UN level so that the habit of labelling opponents as terrorists comes to an end

BlackJack | 8 years ago | Reply

No nation has lost more people to terrorism in such a short time; no nation wastes so much time on semantics instead of attacking the root cause. Correlation or causation?

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