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Remarks at the United Nations Security Council Ministerial Session on Terrorism

Secretary Colin L. Powell
United Nations
New York, New York
January 20, 2003

SECRETARY POWELL: Mr. President, thank you for bringing us together today to reaffirm our commitment to the fight against terrorism. I thank the Secretary General for his excellent remarks earlier.

It is so fitting that this body meet at ministerial level to take stock of our campaign against terrorists and to help chart the way forward. And, it is fitting that we meet here in New York, the site of the bloodiest of the attacks of September 11.

Let me begin my remarks by joining all of my other colleagues in thanking Ambassador Greenstock for his tireless efforts as chairman of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee.

Ambassador Greenstock's vision, his energy, and his commitment have transformed the committee from an idea into a powerful weapon against terrorism. And we all owe him a big debt of gratitude. Thank you, Jeremy.

I'd also like to thank our Spanish colleagues for agreeing to assume the chairmanship of the Counter-Terrorism Committee in April. They will have our full support as they build on Ambassador Greenstock's work to make the committee an even more potent weapon in the anti-terrorist arsenal.

We need an effective Counter-Terrorism Committee for, despite the progress of the past year, there is still much that we have to do. As the murderous attacks in Bali, in Moscow, in Mombassa, and elsewhere have so tragically reminded us, the terrorist threat continues, and no country's citizens are safe. Innocent people from some 90 countries perished on September 11. The Bali victims called at least 25 different countries home.

Colleagues, friends, no cause justifies the murder of innocent people. We totally reject terrorists and terrorism. We must rid the civilized world of this cancer. We must wage our campaign at every level, with every tool of statecraft, for as long as it takes.

President Bush has stressed that, quote, "we will win this conflict by the patient accumulation of successes, by meeting a series of challenges with determination and will and purpose."

The declaration we will adopt today makes clear that this war has many fronts, from money laundering and the illicit drug trade, to arms trafficking and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We must fight terrorism on all of these fronts.

I'm very impressed by a number of the comments that I've heard today from various colleagues. I thank my colleague from Pakistan for Pakistan's commitment to continue going after al-Qaida. We must get every one of these terrorists and bring them to justice or destroy them.

I'd also note that a number of my colleagues have made reference to the situation with respect to Iraq and Resolution 1441. In the very near future, this council will meet again to determine what to do about this situation. Iraq was given a last chance with Resolution 1441. I'm pleased that it was President Bush who brought this situation to the attention of the Council in the most forceful way last September to give them this one last chance. And we must not shrink from our duties and our responsibilities when the material comes before us next week, and as we consider Iraq's response to 1441.

And we cannot fail to take the action that may be necessary because we are afraid of what others might do. We cannot be shocked into impotence because we're afraid of the difficult choices that are ahead of us. And so we'll have much work to do, difficult work, in the days ahead. But we cannot shrink from the responsibilities of dealing with a regime that has gone about development, acquiring, stocking of weapons of mass destruction, that has committed terrorist acts against its neighbors and against its own people, trampled human rights of its own people and its neighbors.

So however difficult the road ahead may be with respect to Iraq, we must not shrink from the need to travel down that road. Hopefully, it will be a peaceful solution. But if Iraq does not come into full compliance, we must not shrink from the responsibilities that we set before ourselves when we adopted 1441 on a unanimous basis and so many other nations expressed their support for 1441.

Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists or states that support terrorists would represent a mortal danger to us all. So we must make the United Nations even more effective. And we must build even closer international cooperation to keep these weapons out of the hands of terrorists.

The United Nations has long worked to marshal the international community against terrorism. For example, as we have noted here this morning, there are 12 counter-terrorism conventions and protocols negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations and its affiliated agencies. It is vital that all states become parties to all of these conventions and protocols, and fully implement them as soon as possible.

With the passage of Security Council Resolution 1373 in September 2001, the United Nations fundamentally changed the way the international community responds to terrorism. Resolution 1373 created an obligation for all member states to work together to deny terrorists the ability to solicit and move funds, to find safe haven, acquire weapons, or cross international borders.

Resolution 1373 said that if you are a member of the community of civilized nations, you must do your part to eliminate terrorist networks and terrorist activities. And as we have seen and as we have discussed here today, Resolution 1373 is starting to have an impact. Most member states have submitted reports to the CTC describing the measures they have taken to implement resolution 1373 and identifying what more needs to be done.

This is a very important step. And as Ambassador Greenstock noted earlier, countries that have not taken this step should comply as quickly as possible. Those that have, should continue to be responsive to requests from the Counter-Terrorism Committee.

Some countries are eager to implement Resolution 1373 and to take other measures against terrorists, but they lack the necessary skills and resources to do so effectively. We must help them build up their capabilities. I challenge all nations with counter-terrorism expertise to help our willing partners.

Many countries have already stepped up to the challenge. For example, the Commonwealth Secretariat, France, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, and Norway are all providing assistance in areas such as drafting anti-terrorist legislation.

For our part, we have more than tripled our capacity-building assistance. Last year alone, our anti-terrorism assistance program trained nearly 4,800 security personnel from 60 countries in everything from bomb detection to hostage negotiations, crime scene investigations, and the protection of dignitaries. We are also devoting $10 million in the coming year to help strengthen the ability of 18 countries to deny terrorists the funds they need to kill innocent people.

Indeed, the international community has already made impressive progress in freezing terrorist assets, and the United Nations has played the leading role in this unprecedented effort. For example, the United Nations has designated 324 names for asset freezing. In addition, Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1390 laid a strong foundation for halting the flow of money to terrorists associated with the Taliban, al-Qaida, and Usama bin Laden.

We are particularly pleased that, just last Friday, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1455. This important new resolution is aimed at improving member state implementation of these sanctions that are targeted at terrorists and without time limits. The international community could not have sent a stronger message of its determination to stamp out terrorism.

We look forward to working with Ambassador Valdes of Chile as he assumes the chairmanship of the committee established pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1267 to implement the al-Qaida sanctions regime. This committee has become even more important with the unanimous passage of Resolution 1455.

But we all need to do more. And we need to coordinate our efforts better. Many international organizations, at regional and sub-regional level, are already working to counter the terrorist threat. These organizations have an important role to play in helping their member states fulfill their counter-terrorism obligations. Now is the time for these groups to talk to each other, to exchange information, and to coordinate their activities for maximum effect.

The Counter-Terrorism Committee is taking a good first step by convening a meeting this March to bring many of these organizations together. Colleagues, friends, the challenge before us is to weave counter-terrorism into the very fabric of our national institutions and our international institutions.

We must rise to the challenge. We must rise to the challenge with actions that will rid the globe of terrorism and create a world in which all God's children can live without fear.

Thank you.

Released on January 20, 2003

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