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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of International Organization Affairs > Reports to Congress, U.S. Votes, Fact Sheets, Testimony > Other Remarks > 2001

Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism

John D. Negroponte, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Statement in the UN General Assembly's Plenary Session on Terrorism
New York, New York
October 1, 2001

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Members of the General Assembly,

This General Assembly, as you all know, was meant to implement the Millennium Declaration, issued one year ago this month. In it we declared certain fundamental values to be essential to international relations in the twenty-first century - freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility .

Each of you has stood in my place, making your first remarks to the General Assembly, so I am sure you can well understand how pleased I would have been to address these inspiring themes. With the breach between the US congress and the President over how to best support the UN now healed, I could have used my time with you this morning to describe the United States' renewed commitment to a world reborn in the spirit of peace and cooperation. That is a speech I am committed to deliver, I assure you, but not today.

Tragically, the heinous terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have led us, all of us, not to the Millennium Declaration but back to our original declaration on June 25, 1945. We expressed our political will then in terms that were firm and clear, and I would be hard pressed to improve upon them. But if I may add a single word to the preamble of the Charter of this great body, let me say that "We the peoples of the United Nations remain determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."

The barbarities of September 11 - the unspeakable loss of life, the destruction of the World Trade Center, the suicidal flight into the walls of the Pentagon, the horrifying crash of a commercial airliner in a field in Pennsylvania - were very different from the scourge of war our predecessors knew and pledged to end, but they were acts of war nonetheless. And as President Bush has said, we will meet this violence with justice that is patient, but "whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done."

Ladies and gentlemen, on September 11 the world witnessed the final transformation of terror from agony to crisis. We knew we had cancer. Now we know it has metastasized. The Al Qaeda terrorist network reached into the very systems of cooperation and communication which we have painstakingly established to bring the world closer together -- from civil aviation to telecommunication to the transfer of money to the free movement of people -- and turned the building blocks of peace into the weapons of war. Men suicidally intoxicated with a vision of the void perverted the basic elements of civilized life and dared call their deeds the works of God. Some power possessed them but not a higher power, some power that rendered the impact of these assaults exponentially greater than anything we have ever witnessed before, some power that is the dark antithesis of the light we all want to see at the dawn of the new millennium.

The attacks of September 11 took place within the territory of the United States, but the grief has spread far beyond our borders. My delegation is not the only one that mourns. Scores of nations lost their citizens, their brothers and sisters, their parents, their children. Our deepest sympathies go to all of you. And let me say that the offers of support we have received from you in return -- specially trained Asian firefighters, European burn teams, Latin American urban rescuers, Arab physicians, and African trauma managers -- have touched the people of the United States deeply.

As we meet here today, I know all of you join me in asking, "What more can we do? What more must we do?" Despite the urgency and anger we feel, some answers to those questions will take time in coming. September 11, after all, is only a few weeks past. But more than time - and this is the heart of my message to you today - the answers to those questions will require the sustained application of political will, a vital commitment to one another that infuses all of the measures we take today and will give us the courage to undertake unforeseeable actions tomorrow. I know we can muster that political will because the General Assembly and Security Council both showed it in their swift resolutions of September 12, an unprecedented manifestation of our collective outrage and condemnation.

The struggle we face will be lengthy. Its progress will be erratic. Already we see heartening results through effective law enforcement around the world, but this war won't be over until we shatter the global terrorists' ability to share information, techniques, personnel, money, and weapons. And as we dismantle the terrorists' ability to leverage their resources by cross-border subterfuge, we must also shut down their activities in each and every member state. We cannot let them act together; we cannot let them act alone; we cannot let them act at all.

Three days ago the Security Council spelled out our immediate tasks in Resolution 1373. It is an urgent call to action. All of us must emphasize to our governments the critical need to implement the measures it mandates. Resolution 1373 goes to the heart of how terrorism operates -- it will deny the terrorists financing, safehaven, and other forms of support; the Security Council itself will closely monitor its implementation. Yes, Resolution 1373 will impose on all of us the highest standards of vigilance, but vigilance is the price of freedom. And freedom, the first value of the new millennium, is worth the price of vigilance and more.

President Bush has made our policy clear: "We will direct every resource at our command - every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war - to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network." The United States, like all members, has the right to defend itself. But we do not feel alone in our struggle, and we are not proceeding alone. In this great house of nations, we have many friends. We know that.

We also know that the war we wage is not a battle against Islam. The terrorists we confront cannot deceive us by attempting to wrap themselves in Islam's glorious mantle. Islam's great leaders and scholars tell us otherwise. Our own history and experience tell us otherwise. We helped defend Muslims in Kuwait. We helped defend Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo. We remain the largest single provider of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. There are over 1200 mosques and two million Muslims in the United States, and their faith is a gift we revere and cherish. So we must be prepared to repeat again and again the simple truth: there is no division between the U.S. and Islam; the division that exists is between the civilized world and terror, between the rule of law and the chaos of crime, between a world at peace and a world in peril.

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, esteemed colleagues: I have spent my adult life as a diplomat, much of the time abroad, but I lived here in New York from childhood until I was twenty-one. I lived here during World War II. I lived here during the Korean War. And I lived here during some of the worst moments of the Cold War. During those difficult times we New Yorkers came to believe we had a special relationship with the world through the vision of men like Churchill and Roosevelt, Hammarskjold and U Thant. What they dreamed, and what they built, right here in my hometown, was an institution that rejected conflict and embraced cooperation.

Now our spirit of cooperation is going to be tested. In the months and perhaps years ahead, we often will be frustrated, we often will be disappointed. But you, too, live in the city where the tragedy was greatest. You, too, have seen this disaster with your own eyes, and you know there is no way to prevent such a thing happening again unless we make common cause. Justice demands that global terrorism be silenced so that the Millennium Declaration of the United Nations can be heard. Through shared responsibility, the last of the Millennium Declaration's fundamental values, I am sure that goal will be achieved.

Thank you very much.

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