Commentary and Newsletters

Anne Bayefsky

The UN still can't define terrorism

Monday, February 12, 2007

Notwithstanding that terrorism is the modern calling-card of the foes of civilization, the UN still cannot define either terrorism or its perpetrators. The problem is the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which obviously has a vested interest in keeping terrorism off the books.

Back in September 2005, world leaders arrived at the UN to proclaim that the Organization would "make all efforts to reach an agreement on and conclude a comprehensive convention on international terrorism during the sixtieth session of the General Assembly." Not surprisingly, the sixtieth session of the General Assembly has come and gone.

Last week, the interminable negotiations over a comprehensive terrorism treaty began again. Handed the global UN platform one more time, here is what it was used to communicate with no sign of embarrassment on the part of terrorism's champions.

  • Azerbaijan, speaking for the OIC (56 UN members) "reaffirmed its determination to make every effort to resolve outstanding issues related to the legal definition of terrorism, particularly the distinction between terrorism and peoples' struggle against foreign occupation."
  • Suriname, on behalf of CARICOM (15 Caribbean states): "Any definition should recognize legitimate struggle of peoples for self-determination in accordance with Charter and international law."
  • North Korea opined that the current pressing task of the UN's Ad Hoc terrorism committee is to eliminate "state terrorism" the "US illegal invasion of Iraq and Israel's occupation of Arab territories and invasion of Lebanon."
  • Cuba hoped that terrorism would be defined "in all its forms and manifestations, including state terrorism...and a distinction [drawn] between terrorism on the one hand and the struggle of peoples for self-determination as prescribed by charter of the United Nations."
  • Libya asserted the "need to make a clear distinction between acts of terrorism... and the rights of peoples to exercise rights such as the right to resist occupation, the right to self-determination and the right to legitimate defense."

In other words, the recent murder of Michael Ben-Sa'adon, 27, Israel Samolia, 26, and Emil Almaliakh, 32, by a suicide bomber in Eilat, Israel is fine by the thugs who have a chokehold over the General Assembly of the United Nations. This is the same United Nations that promised equal rights for men and women and of nations large and small albeit, in the very distant past.