UNITED NATIONS – Russia expressed cautious optimism that its initiative to step up the global campaign against terrorism will get unanimous support in the U.N. Security Council after lengthy negotiations to ensure that it does not outlaw resistance fighters.
A vote on Moscow’s proposed resolution was scheduled Friday after the council hears from the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, which requested an audience.
“Consensus is the best way of drafting and adopting resolutions,” Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Andrey Denisov said after talks late Thursday. “I’m (an) optimist always, but this time I’m a very careful optimist.”
Pakistan and Algeria, the only Muslim nations on the 15-member council, have both voiced concern that the measure would outlaw legitimate struggles and require the United Nations (news – web sites) to draw up an expanded list of terrorists suspects.
The measure has support from 13 council members, so there was no doubt that it would be approved. But Russia and other council members believe that to have maximum impact, the resolution needed the council’s full support.
Russia introduced an initial draft in late September, about three weeks after militants staged a series of attacks in Russia, including the suicide hijacking of two planes and the hostage crisis at a school in Beslan that killed more than 330. A warlord in the nearby Russian republic of Chechyna, Shamil Basayev, has purportedly taken responsibility for the attacks, saying they were part of Chechnya’s war for independence.
Spain, which was the target of four commuter train bombings on March 11, signed on as a co-sponsor along with the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Romania.
After a closed-door discussion Thursday morning, council members and experts met sporadically through the afternoon and into the evening to try to come up with language that the Algerians and Pakistanis could accept — and that didn’t alienate the Spaniards.
Council diplomats said late Thursday that negotiators reached agreement 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 says these acts constitute offenses in international conventions relating to terrorism. Diplomats said this phrasing eliminated open-ended language which the Algerians and Pakistanis argued would be used to label freedom fighters as terrorists.
When the resolution was introduced, there was concern that Moscow was trying to define terrorism, something the General Assembly has been grappling with for years, so far unsuccessfully.
Even though Denisov insisted again late Thursday that that was not the case, Pakistan’s U.N. Ambassador Munir Akram said the resolution will be used “in determining what is terrorism and what is not terrorism.”
“While we all agree that acts against civilians are terrorist acts and are to be criminalized, there is no similar consensus on what are the rights of peoples who are struggling against foreign occupation,” Akram said.
Another difficult issue for the Pakistanis and Algerians was the possibility that a new list of terrorist groups and suspects would be complied.
The Russian draft would establish a Security Council working group to consider practical measures “to be imposed upon individuals, groups or entities involved in or associated with terrorist activities” who are not already subject to U.N. sanctions because of links to Al-Qaida or Afghanistan (news – web sites)’s former Taliban rulers.
The working group would recommend procedures to implement the measures “including the possibility of developing an appropriate list.”
Pakistan’s Akram there was no need for mentioning the list because it prejudged the decision of the council working group. All other council members agreed to drop the reference to a list except Spain, which was consulting with its government, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The resolution calls on all countries to cooperate fully in the fight against terrorism, “especially with those states where or against whose citizens terrorist acts are committed.”
It also calls on states to deny safe haven and 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.”