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"Measures to eliminate international terrorism"

  Statement of H.E. Mr. Mohamed BENNOUNA Ambassador, Permanent Representative of The Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations,at the plenary meeting of the General Assembly, New York, October 1, 2001

Mr. President

First of all; the Kingdom of Morocco reiterates its unambiguous and firm position in condemning, without any reservation, terrorism in all its forms and regardless of the perpetrators.

It is true that, the United Nations has been debating the issue of terrorism for thirty years. This question has been subject to thorough, and often controversial, considerations which led to the adoption of numerous declarations and conventions aiming at fighting this phenomenon and developing the legal instruments, at the international level, to combat it.

However, the tragic events of an unprecedented scope that have plunged New York, Washington and Pennsylvania into mourning on September 11th have shaken the universal conscience so much so that it has become imperative for us to reconsider the approach we have adopted so far in combating terrorism. -

The globalisation of realities does not requires the globalisation of rules alone, but the strengthening of the international institutions and their adaptation to the new issues at stake. In this context, my country is determined, after the adoption by the Security council of its resolution 1373 dated September 28, 2001, to comply with all the decisions contained therein and to fully cooperate with the international mecanism set forth to supervise the implementation of this resolution. We will also continue our cooperation with all other countries in order to intensify the fight against terrorism and we willa accelerate our participation to all relevant legal instruments. We will fully support the Indian comprehensive draft convention in this respect and we will endeavour to have it finalized during this session.

No doubt that the purpose behind the attacks directed at innocent civilians in the United States was to spread terror and panic in this country, and in the world as a whole. But they also aimed at triggering a clash of civilizations and religions. -

Hence the danger of terrorist acts which pose, by their very nature, unprecedented threats to international peace and security. This new type of threats is aimed at sparkling off conflicts between religious or cultural groups and, therefrom, taking us back to barbarism. The terrorists who struck thousands of people in the United States and plunged thousands of families into mourning wanted to destroy the common values of humanity, namely those of tolerance, respect for differences and acceptance of diversity of cultures and civilizations. More than that, it's our heritage, our belief, our spirituality and secular creativity that are targeted in the long run.

We would like to express our deepest comapssion to the families of the innocent victims. We would also like to underline that in such situations, and as a general rule, we should avoid making equations between acts of determined criminals and the behavior of a religious community or of any cultural group. -   This fact was energetically emphasized by the authorities in the host country, at all levels. We would like to seize this opportunity to recall the constant position of the Kingdom of Morocco Any attempt to hold one group responsiblefor the acts of a few of its extremists paves the way, undoubtedly, to serious breaches against the human person, that vary from daily racism to institutionalized discrimination and even to crimes against humanity.Mr. President,

The Kingdom of Morocco is convinced that any culture or nation can only emerge, thrive and sustain itself thanks to multiple contributions and numerous inputs. Hence, His Majesty King Mohammed VI emphasized, in His Throne speech, the relationship between democracy and respect for cultural particularities in every region.

His Majesty reached the conclusion that there exists in Morocco a plural identity "built on diverse contributions, namely amazigh, Arabic, sub-Saharan, African and andalusian, which constitute valuable components that have refined and enriched our identity thanks to openness on and interaction with a large variety of cultures and civilizations."

Acknowledging the plurality of this identity does in no way affect the homogeneity of the entity as a whole, rather it should guarantee the consolidation and the cohesion of the nation, and therefrom its ability to accept and cooperate, on a broader scope, with neighboring countries. This vision which integrates diversity and unity in a harmonious way is a source of hope for the future of the Arab Maghreb, this area of privileged relations between Europe and Africa -

Mr. President

The sectorial approach adopted for the definition of certain terrorist acts in international conventions with a view to criminalizing these acts proved to be inadequate to fight the scourge. On the other hand, all those who believed that its mere invocation would suffice to heap shame and discredit on others unfortunately trivialized the concept of terrorism. It is therefore high time for our Organization to start a process of clarifying the concept of terrorism at the light of the recent developments in international law and particularly the adoption of the statute of the International Criminal Court, in Rome, in July 1998. Henceforth, notorious criminals can no longer seek refuge within state borders and invoke the non-interference principle. Similarly, the dawn of the 21st century has signaled the end of philosophies, which, in line with Machiavel doctrine, justify the means, however despicable, for the sake of political goals.

Indeed, there lies the crux of any definition of terrorism. Any indiscriminate act against innocent civilians constitutes a terrorist crime that international law condemns, regardless of the perpetrator's status or position in the state hierarchy. -

From now on, there are limits to the extent to which any organization, underground or official, could go in the use of means.   Needles to say that exceptions to the non-use of force apply in the case of a country defending itself against an aggression or an armed attack or when an action is authorized by the Security Council while assuming its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

However, the use of legitimate force should be proportionate and adapted to the sought objective, be it for defense purposes, through the pursuit and prosecution of criminals, or for restoring peace and security. This is the reason why retaliation should not be excessive and avoid endangering other innocent lives.Mr. President

Certainly, security is the first form of freedom as Montesquieu said, following Hobbs. But we also have to see to it that the pursuit of security does not jeopardize the freedom of individuals. In this connection, our Organization has a role to play in disseminating the voice of the international community, which is also the voice of wisdom. This requires addressing the serious imbalances which still plague our planet and drive disadvantaged groups in a cultural and religious seclusion thereby seeking refuge in extremism.

While, as mentioned above, security concerns should be addressed with due regard to cultural particularities, security will not be universal unless dire poverty suffered by increasing numbers of people is overcome as well as sheer humiliation and injustice worldwide to which are subject entire populations including children, either in Palestine or elswhere. Restore hope to the oppressed should figure among the priorities of the international community.

Mr. President The Kingdom of Morocco, as an Arab and Muslim country, has constantly, in all international fora, advocated dialogue among religions, cultures and civilizations. Needless to remind that Morocco was the first Arab-Muslim country visited by the Saint Pope in 1985. More recently, Moroccan religious dignitaries prayed in Rabat, after the tragic event of September 11, in unison with representatives of Christian and Jewish Communities. We prayed as sons of Abraham, whose message was carried on by all prophets and messengers known to us.

It is not now that we, the muslims, have learnt to advocate and practice tolerance. In the 13th century, the great mystic scholar Jalaluddin Rumi delivered to us this inspiring message of tolerance "O muslims, you are asking me who I am ... I am part from here and part from everywhere ...I am half of pearls and half from remote shores..."


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