|We Are United in Our Resolve to Defeat Terrorism |
We Are United in Our Resolve to Defeat Terrorism
Security Council ministerial meeting on the global effort to combat terrorism: Intervention by the Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, Secretary of State for Foerign and Commonwealth Affairs, 12 November 2001. Source: UK Mission in the UN.
I, too, would like to express my profound sorrow at the news confirmed this morning of the airplane crash in the City of New York, and to offer the sincere condolences of the Government of the United Kingdom to the loved ones of the victims, to the people of New York and to the Government and people of the United States. Such a loss of life happening at any time, anywhere, is terrible. But we all understand that, whatever its causes, the news of this disaster at this time was bound to be doubly traumatic for the residents of New York and for the people of the United States.
Yesterday, at 11.00 am on 11 November, people in the United Kingdom stopped doing what they were doing for two minutes, to remember service men and women who have been killed in the course of duty, fighting to uphold the values of human dignity, human rights and freedom that we hold dear. They do this every year. In the last 50 years, there has only been one year when no British citizen died in this cause.
The United Nations, too, has had its roll call of honour, alas too long, of those citizens of the world who have given their lives in the cause of peace.
11 November had a new meaning this year: it was exactly two months since thousands of innocent people lost their lives in the heinous terrorist attacks on New York and on Washington. We should never forget them. A third of the nations of the world lost their own nationals in that one act.
Terrorism is not new in the world, and is far from new in the UK. Over the last 30 years more than 3,000 British lives have been lost. But on 11 September, the world saw terrorism on an unprecedented, horrifying scale. My government has a simple message for terrorists and those who support terrorism: terrorism, the deliberate targeting of innocent people for political ends, is criminal. There is no political, religious or ideological cause which can possibly justify the use of such indiscriminate violence.
The international resolve is strong. The declaration the Security Council will adopt today sets out the unequivocal condemnation of all acts of terrorism. Security Council Resolution 1373 was an historic event – the first resolution to impose obligations on all states to respond to the global threat of terrorism. Its implementation has to be a priority for every member of the UN in collaboration with, and assisted by, the Council’s Counter Terrorism Committee.
In 2000, when I was UK Home Secretary, we significantly strengthened our anti-terrorism laws and are now taking further measures fully to meet the requirements of UNSCR 1373. Some of these new measures are before the UK Parliament this week. The overall aim of these changes is to reinforce the civil liberties which really matter, like the right to live itself and the right to live without the fear of the terrorists’ bomb and bullet. We are also cutting back on the opportunities for terrorist suspects to abuse or exploit the freedoms of the UK, freedoms which the same terrorists seek to destroy.
The UK has already ratified the 12 existing UN conventions, and we urge others to accelerate work to do so. We will continue to work to complete the Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism.
It is the view of the UK that we have actively to confront terrorism, the financing of terrorism, the drugs trade of terrorists and the states which harbour terrorists. The message which must go from here is that we are united in our resolve to defeat terrorism. The news from the north of Afghanistan of military advances is welcome, but is only the first step, if an essential one, to the overall liberation of Afghanistan, to the establishment there of a broad-based representative multi-ethnic government and to our goal of a world free from the scourges of terrorism and war.