July 9, 2008
G8 Summit Statement on Counterterrorism
By Michael Kraft
Overlooked in the reporting on the G8 summit’s discussions in Rusutsu, Japan, this week on climate change and other subjects, was a major statement on counterterrorism, reaffirming that ”abductions and the taking of hostages are repugnant practices to be strongly condemned.”
The terrorism issue was scarcely mentioned in articles found on a Google search except for an interesting Canadian news article focusing on Afganistan.
However the statement was a useful reaffirmation of goals: “We, the leaders of the G-8 summit, condemn in the strongest possible terms all acts of terrorism, and commit ourselves to take every possible measure to counter this threat to the international community.”
The statements issued at summit conferences in themselves have little direct immediate impact, although they do provide a statement and goals for the bureaucracies.
The statement of shared principles included: ”All terrorist acts are criminal and unjustifiable, and must be unequivocally condemned, especially when they indiscriminately target or injure civilians.”
This phrase had a contemporary and historic ring to it. While it apparently was aimed at those who attempt to justify the Al-Qaeda-inspired mass bombings of civilians, it was also an echo of the Reagan Administration’s public diplomacy efforts to label terrorists as criminals and undercut their image in some quarters as romantic “freedom fighters.”
The phrase previously on hostage taking undoubtedly was drafted before the dramatic rescue of hostages, including three Americans, in Colombia last week. It also has a bearing though on the pending swap between Israel and Hezbollah of four terrorists for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who were kidnapped by the Lebanese-based group in a cross border raid two years ago touching off a major conflict. One of the terrorists who is being released in the controversial swap is Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese terrorist who in 1979 raid took hostage a young Israeli father and his four-year-old daughter, bashing her head against a rock.
The G8 statement also urged the strengthening of the United Nations efforts to counter terrorism. This an effort that is being encouraged by an increasingly active non-government organization, the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation, which has published a number of studies on the subject.
Many observers feel the UN efforts have been lagging after the inital surge following 9/11 but say the UN is being re-energized by the recent appointment of Mike Smith, an experienced Australian diplomat as United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, and Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate.
For reference, the full text of the July 8 G8 statement follows.
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G8 Leaders Statement on Counter-Terrorism
July 8, 2008
We, the leaders of the G8, condemn in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism, and commit ourselves to take every possible measure to counter this threat to the international community. We have taken cooperative actions against terrorism, particularly in successive G8 Summits since 2001, including strengthening the role of the United Nations, improving information sharing, and combating the financing of terrorism, strengthening the security of land, sea, and air transport, undertaking measures for better control of Man-Portable Air Defense Systems, and launching the Secure and Facilitated International Travel Initiative. Still, terrorism remains one of the most serious threats affecting all countries and peoples in the world.
Our work is and will be guided by shared principles, including the following:
- All terrorist acts are criminal and unjustifiable, and must be unequivocally condemned, especially when they indiscriminately target or injure civilians.
- Suicide bombings are a particularly despicable tactic, and recruiting the young or disadvantaged to carry out such acts must be uniformly condemned.
- Abductions and the taking of hostages are repugnant practices to be strongly condemned.
- Conflict, oppression, and poverty do not excuse or justify terrorism.
- Terrorist abuse of freedoms inherent to democratic societies to spread hatred and incite violence, such as through abuse of modern technologies and open borders, will not be tolerated.
Today in Hokkaido Toyako, we reaffirm our commitment to countering terrorism with every means at our disposal, while ensuring the rule of law and respect for human rights and international law. Our success in combating terrorism will lie not only in countering present terrorist threats, but in providing the hope and reality of a vision that undercuts the false appeal of violent extremism. Thus, we welcome the report submitted by the G8 experts on international terrorism and transnational organized crime, and underscore our pledge to further strengthen our cooperation to counter the terrorist threat including the following:
1. We recognize the United Nations' central role in countering terrorism and express our firm support for UN efforts. We call on all Member States to implement UN measures to counter terrorism including the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and relevant Security Council resolutions. We also stress the importance of concluding and implementing international conventions and protocols against terrorism.
2. We emphasize the critical role of capacity building for countries requiring assistance to meet their international counter-terrorism commitments. In this regard, we will further strengthen cooperation among the G8 and the UN, especially by enhancing efficient coordination with the Counter-Terrorism Committee/Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTC/CTED) through the Counter-Terrorism Action Group (CTAG). We also encourage and support regional cooperation.
3. In light of the diversified threats and methods of terrorism, we will reinforce our efforts to tackle a wide array of threats including Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) terrorism, attacks on critical energy infrastructure and transportation systems, and the abuse of information/communication technology.
4. We commit also to strengthen our efforts to combat terrorist financing, including the prevention of bulk cash smuggling to finance terrorism and the risk of terrorist exploitation and abuse of charities, while mindful of the overall valuable role of charities. We stress the urgent need for full implementation of existing standards, including Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Special Recommendations VIII and IX, and ask our experts to take steps to share information, evaluate threats, assess new trends and promote implementation and review these efforts next year.
5. We recognize the critical importance of preventing radicalization leading to violence as part of efforts to curb and stop terrorism. We will continue to develop measures to counter and prevent such radicalization.
6. We welcome the G8 Foreign Ministers' Statement on Afghanistan. We reaffirm the importance of economic and social development along with counter-terrorism measures in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, which can play a critical role in bringing lasting peace, stability and security to this region. To this end, we are committed to further strengthening the coordination of our efforts in the border region in cooperation with the respective countries, international organizations, and other donors.
Today, we reaffirm our unshakable belief that terrorism cannot and will not succeed. Our response to the terrorist threat will respect our common democratic values. We must protect individuals and uphold human rights while we confront terrorism. We must promote freedom and security, protect democracy, and ensure justice.
July 9, 2008 04:34 PM Link