British diplomats push Annan for a 'no excuses' definition of terrorism
By Charles Laurence
Sunday Telegraph, 24 July 2005
British diplomats are putting heavy pressure on the United Nations finally to make good its promise to devise an unequivocal definition and condemnation of terrorism.
The diplomats' demands, given fresh impetus by the London bombings, come amid fears that the UN may not honour the promise, part of a reform movement prompted by the oil-for-food scandal and political anger in Washington. Mark Malloch Brown, the UN chief of staff and number two to Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, supervised talks last week on anti-terror plans that were acceptable to all members.
"We are talking about work at the highest level on this because we all know that this is crunch time for the UN," said one diplomat. "We are looking for a relaunch or bust, and there cannot be a relaunch without real progress on the terrorism issue."
International efforts to write a global anti-terror treaty have been at an impasse since 1996, bogged down in the UN's legal committee as member states wrangle over the definition of terrorism. The legal committee will hold a fresh round of informal negotiations this week to move the pact forward.
Even though Mr Annan had pledged that the reforms, due to emerge from a UN summit this autumn, would include a "no-excuses" definition of terrorism, new doubts arose after delegates from Middle Eastern and Islamic countries began to demand compromises. Western countries that are habitual targets of terrorists sought a definition which would make it clear that none of the 191 UN member countries could endorse or condone attacks on civilians or non-combatants.
Yet in the run-up to the UN's annual general assembly and the summit, recent debate has stalled on the classification of Palestinian suicide bombers and Israeli action in the West Bank and Gaza, with some countries questioning whether the definition would apply to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Now, British diplomats are pushing hard for the absolute condemnation in the belief that with Britain holding the EU presidency they are arguing from a position of strength.
Mr Annan said that he had "not given up hope" that the UN would be able to define terrorism. "I think a clear, simple definition that gets across the message that the killing of innocent civilians or non-combatants, regardless of one's cause, is terrorism pure and simple, will suffice," he said.
Sir Emyr Jones Parry, Britain's ambassador to the UN, said that both the European Union and the UN needed to be ''very clear'' what they could do about terrorism.
Europe had to control the flow of people and money involved in terrorism, he said, while the UN needed to persuade all members to ''sign up to and enforce'' all the conventions that already exist. "There could be no pretext which could possibly justify terrorism," he said.
"We have a summit in September which is very important for refining the role of the UN but my hope would be that heads of governments would sign up to one simple premise - that an attack on civilians, the sort we saw in London or Madrid or New York, constitutes one manifestation of terrorism beyond question, and there can be no hiding, no pretext which could say the cause justifies this attack on innocents."
Sir Emyr hinted that member states that were reluctant to sign up would face censure. "If we end up with some countries unable or unwilling to actually put in place measures, we have to see what to do about them," he said.
It will be interesting to see if the condemnation of terrorism goes through, at least. I'm optimistic about the abolition of the Human Rights Commission, which never did anything to further human rights, but was the source of much anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and just plain hatred. It will be interesting to see if Bolton is effective.
Bolton urges broad change in U.N. plan
Warren Hoge, New York Times
August 25, 2005 UN0825
UNITED NATIONS -- John Bolton, in his first public initiative as U.S. ambassador, told envoys at the United Nations Wednesday that time was running out on efforts to reform the world body, only days after the United States began privately pushing for major revisions to a draft that was close to completion.
The new U.S. approach recommends scrapping more than 400 passages in the 38-page draft prepared under the General Assembly president, Jean Ping of Gabon, that was being readied for a summit conference next month after nearly a year of intense negotiations. "Time is short," Bolton said in a letter to the other 190 U.N. ambassadors.
He proposed immediate negotiations, starting with Ping's draft , and urged his fellow envoys to remain "open to alternative formats if they help us achieve consensus." He said, "I plan on participating personally in this exercise, and hope you will do the same."
More than 170 heads of state have confirmed plans to attend the conference, starting Sept. 14, to consider approval of what are seen as the most sweeping changes at the United Nations in its 60-year history.
The extent of the deletions sought and the late hour of the move brought complaints that the United States was sabotaging the U.N. effort to meet demands -- many of them originating from Washington -- that the institution reform itself to adjust to modern times and make its operations transparent and accountable.
"It would be very unfortunate and not in the interest of the United States or the international community for the new U.S. ambassador to barge in and undermine an important summit negotiation process," said William Pace, general secretary of the New York-based World Federalist Movement.
Richard Grenell, the spokesman for the U.S. mission, said, "The fact that we took this document seriously and put it through a thorough interagency process to evaluate its policy implications and then we commented on our ideas should be celebrated, not criticized."
Bolton, who was appointed by the White House while Congress was in recess after he failed to gain Senate approval, was championed by President Bush as the best person to bring about needed reform at the United Nations.
Among the changes under consideration by the world body are the substitution of the Human Rights Commission with a more powerful Human Rights Council that would no longer allow rights violators on the panel; the creation of a Peacebuilding Commission to help counties emerging from conflict; the defining of terrorism to exclude its justification as a national resistance or liberation tool, and the empowerment of the international community to intervene in countries that fail to protect their populations in cases of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
The U.S. objections center on parts of the document that approve measures and offices that the United States has opposed in other forums. Among them are the International Criminal Court, the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and a pledge to devote 0.7 percent of gross national product to development.
The U.N. discovers the cause of anti-Semitism: Jews By ANNE BAYEFSKY, Opinion Journal, November 18, 2004
Useful quotes made by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Elie Wiesel on the UN and antisemitism
The UN's Jewish Problem Ruth R. Wisse, Weekly Standard, March 31/02 (04/08/2002, Volume 007, Issue 29)
Israel faces rampant discrimination at the United Nations Julian Schvindlerman, the Miami Herald, November 1, 2002.
A Typical UN Press Release Forum Post by Wendy, Thu Aug 25, 2005
British diplomats push Annan for a 'no excuses' definition of terrorism By Charles Laurence, Sunday Telegraph, 24 July 2005
UN Record on Israel and Arab East Jerusalem Forum Posts by Oboler, Wendy, Aug 25, 2005
Some good news, Dan Gillerman appointment Forum Posts by Wendy Sept 2005 + JPosy article
ADL suggestions for reforming the UN Forum Posts by Wendy Sept 2005
Sharon and Peace at the UN Forum Posts by Wendy Sept 2005 and article New York Times, September 16, 2005 By JOEL BRINKLEY
The UN's Palestinian Problem Forum Posts by Wendy October 2005 and article
Australia for Israel at the UN Forum Posts by Miriam downunder and Wendy October 2005 and article from The Australian
Canada to reject anti-Israel UN resolutions Forum Posts by Wendy visiting Canada December 2005 and article
Bauer on UN antisemitism From lecture notes on antisemitism
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