H.E. Marjatta Rasi, Permanent Representative to the UN
"Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism"
United Nations General Assembly
New York, New York
October 3, 2001

Mr. President,

Finland fully subscribes to the intervention of the distinguished representative of Belgium, H.E. Mr. Jean de Ruyt, on behalf of the European Union, as well as to the conclusions and the plan of action of the European Council adopted in its extraordinary meeting in Brussels on 21 September. We condemn unequivocally the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. We express our solidarity with the United States. I also wish to express my government's deep sympathy and sincere condolences to victims and their families, as well as to the people and government of the United States. The horrendous events of September 11 have profoundly shocked all nations, big and small.

Mr. President,

While these events were unprecedented - unimaginable - in many respects, they also share a number of common traits with other terrorist attacks of recent years. One such trend is the increasing lethality of the attacks. Their anonymity is another new phenomenon as those who commit the acts rely on networks of undetermined groups and organizations. The lack of discernible organisational structures and political programs makes these groups and organisations an invisible adversary. The first - and by no means the easiest - challenge for counter-terrorism is often that of identifying and locating the adversary.

Any government´s ability to craft an effective response to terrorist attacks will in these circumstances depend on international support, coordination and cooperation. The European Union has called for the broadest possible global coalition against terrorism, and has rightly emphasised the primordial role of the United Nations in this respect. Terrorist acts constitute a threat to international peace and security. The resolutions and statements of the Security Council, in particularily the resolution of last Friday (S/RES/1373 (2001)), send a powerful message that terrorism must be combatted decisively.

The General Assembly of the UN has made an important and indispensable work in recent years in building a consensus on the basic principle that terrorist acts, wherever and by whom ever committed, are criminal and unjustifiable by any political, religious or philosophical considerations. Terrorism may grow out of inequality and oppression, but such circumstances do not justify terrorist acts. There is no “just” terrorism, whatever the causes. At the same time, understanding and eradicating the underlying causes of terrorism poses a challenge to societies and to the international community.

While terrorist organizations increasingly seek their inspiration in different religions, it is clear that no religion can condone terrorism. The European Union has categorically rejected any equation of groups of fanatical terrorism with the Arab and Muslim world. Fanaticism allied with any religion or ideology can lead to terrorist activities. Acts of terrorism pose a serious challenge to States and governments all over the world. It is the global reach of the problem that makes it necessary for the international community to respond to it in a coordinated manner.

While no category of response, which is in accordance with international law, can be excluded, efforts to suppress terrorism must always respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Mr. President,

The twelve conventions elaborated under the UN auspices to prevent and to suppress terrorist acts provide an essential framework for the fight against terrorism. We join the call to all countries to sign and ratify and to fully implement these conventions. Finland has signed all the twelve conventions and will soon have ratified ten of them. The internal preparations required for the ratification of the two most recent conventions, will be carried out as a matter of priority.

The 1997 Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings captures all attacks by means of explosive or other lethal devices, including radioactive materials or chemical or biological agents and toxins directed against government or infrastructure facilities, public transportation systems or places of public use. It is a particularly effective instrument, which expands the legal basis for international cooperation in the investigation, prosecution and extradition of persons who engage in terrorist crimes.

Organising the attacks of 11 September would not have been possible without established transnational networks of support and funding. As a matter of fact, most terrorist crimes would not be possible without financial resources from supporters. The 1999 Convention on the Financing of Terrorism acknowledges that those who finance terrorist crimes are equally responsible and should be treated as severely as those who commit the crimes. The Convention applies to the willful collecting or providing of funds -legally or illegally - with the intention or in the knowledge that they are to be used to the terrorist acts. Once in force and fully implemented, this Convention will significantly improve the ability of governments to work together to reduce the threat of terrorism.

Even though the scope of the existing conventions is fairly comprehensive, there are still gaps to be filled. The discussions on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, on the basis of a draft submitted by India, are underway in the Sixth Committee. This convention will strengthen the comprehensive network of conventions and enhance the impact of the measures taken in the United Nations over the last quarter of a century. All efforts should be concentrated in the upcoming third round of negotiations on finding solutions that will make the convention generally acceptable. The draft Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism should also be completed as soon as possible.

Mr. President,

The few weeks since September 11 have seen a unanimous condemnation of the terrorist attacks as a violation of the fundamental values of the United Nations. The success in the fight against terrorism will to a large extent depend on continued and continually strengthened international cooperation. A whole array of different means - legal, law enforcement, diplomatic – will be needed, as well as close and effective cooperation at practical levels. Finland unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We will participate both nationally and as a member of the European Union in formulating and implementing a coordinated and coherent response to the threat of terrorism.

Thank You, Mr. President.