Multilateralism, full international cooperation and donor aid for poorer countries to develop the needed capacity are vital if the war on terrorism is to have any chance of success, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in Madrid, a day after launching a major five-point United Nations strategy to combat the scourge.
“But of course it is,” he told a new conference in reply to a question whether multilateralism is a key element, “because we need to work across countries, we need international cooperation.
“Governments need to share information, work together – their police forces, intelligence – and without that cooperation, without that effective attempt to work together, we will not be able to contain terrorism or defeat them,” he declared in the Spanish capital, where he also attended a silent memorial service with King Juan Carlos that honoured the victims of last year's terrorist attack on railways that killed nearly 200 people and injured 2,000 others.
In a keynote address yesterday to the closing plenary of the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security, Mr. Annan outlined what he called the “five D’s” strategy: dissuading the disaffected from choosing terrorism, denying terrorists the means to carry out attacks, deterring state support, developing state preventive capacity and defending human rights in the fight against the scourge.
Today he again stressed the need for the world community to help fund poor countries that genuinely cannot afford to build the capacity needed to fight terrorism.
“If we are going to give technical assistance to developing countries and countries that need assistance to upgrade their legal system, I think we are going to need money,” he said. “That money will have to come from governments with capacity and donor countries. We will set up a trust fund to raise the necessary amount of money and I would urge governments to be generous and give willingly so we can all tackle this scourge.”
Asked whether his emphasis on the need to protect human rights in the fight against terrorism was in any way directed to the United States, Mr. Annan replied: “My comments were general, directed at all countries, because we do see tendencies in countries to take measures that tend to undermine civil rights and human rights.
“In some countries, in fact, what you need to do is tag the opponent with the ‘t’ word, the terrorist word, and one is able to take whatever action. And it is this concern that has been bothering me and other human rights activists: that we need to make sure that there is a balance, a balance between the effective action against terrorism and protection of human rights, that we do not see it as a trade-off.”
Asked whether he saw this week’s killing of a radical leader like Chechen separatist Aslan Maskhadov by Russian forces as part of the anti-terror struggle, Mr. Annan said: “Let me say that in the struggle against terrorism, governments tend to look for those who are seen as responsible for instigating attacks and try to either bring them to justice or to contain them. In this struggle you have seen around the world, it is not always their leaders, it is also their followers who get caught by law and they are dealt with.
“But the main thing is that people who have legitimate grievances should find legitimate means to bring their case across. And when I talk of terrorism, as I said yesterday, any attempt to kill civilians or maim non-combatants is terrorism pure and simple, regardless of your cause, and no cause can justify that,” he declared.
“I am not saying that one should not fight for legitimate rights or claims, but that should not be allowed to include the killing of innocent civilians.”