UNITED NATIONS TREATIES AGAINST INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM
19 September 2001
19 September 2001
The United Nations has long been active in the fight against international terrorism. Reflecting the determination of the international community to eliminate this threat, the Organization and its agencies have developed a wide range of international legal agreements that enable the international community to take action to suppress terrorism and bring those responsible to justice.
Dating back to 1963, these agreements provide the basic legal tools to combat international terrorism in its many forms -- from the seizure of aircraft to hostage-taking to the financing of terrorism. Many have been ratified by the majority of countries around the world, and only the most recent one is not yet in force. Such agreements have been developed by the General Assembly, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The instruments are the:
-- Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, adopted in Tokyo in 1963; 171 States parties as of 17 September 2001; authorizes the airplane commander to impose reasonable measures on any person who has committed or is about to commit such acts, and requires States parties to take custody of offenders; developed by ICAO;
-- Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, The Hague, 1970; 174 States parties; requires parties to punish hijackings by "severe penalties", and either extradite or prosecute the offenders; developed by ICAO;
-- Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, Montreal, 1971; 175 States parties; requires parties to punish offences by "severe penalties", and either extradite or prosecute the offenders; developed by ICAO; supplemented by the
Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation, Montreal, 1988; 107 States parties; extends the provisions of the Convention to encompass terrorist acts at airports;
-- Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, New York, 1973; adopted by the General Assembly; 107 States parties; requires parties to criminalize and punish attacks against State officials and representatives;
-- Convention against the Taking of Hostages, New York, 1979; adopted by the General Assembly; 96 States parties; parties agree to make the taking of hostages punishable by appropriate penalties; to prohibit certain activities within their territories; to exchange information; and to carry out criminal or extradition proceedings.
-- Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, Vienna, 1980; 68 States parties; obliges parties to ensure the protection of nuclear material during transportation within their territory or on board their ships or aircraft; developed by IAEA;
-- Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, Rome, 1988; 52 States parties; obliges parties to either extradite or prosecute alleged offenders who have committed unlawful acts against ships, such as seizing ships by force and placing bombs on board ships; developed by IMO; supplemented by the
Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf, Rome, 1988; 48 States parties; extends the requirements of the Convention to fixed platforms such as those engaged in the exploitation of offshore oil and gas;
-- Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection, Montreal, 1991; 67 States parties; seeks to curb the use of unmarked and undetectable plastic explosives; developed by ICAO;
-- International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, New York, 1997; adopted by the General Assembly; 26 States parties; seeks to deny "safe havens" to persons wanted for terrorist bombings by obligating each State party to prosecute such persons if it does not extradite them to another State that has issued an extradition request.
-- International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, New York, 1999; adopted by the General Assembly; four States parties; obligates States parties either to prosecute or to extradite persons accused of funding terrorist activities, and requires banks to enact measures to identify suspicious transactions; will enter into force when ratified by 22 States.
The Legal Committee of the General Assembly is elaborating a convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism and a comprehensive convention on the elimination of terrorism.
In addition to bringing about four of these conventions, the General Assembly has adopted the Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism (1994) and the Declaration to supplement the 1994 Declaration (1996). These condemn all acts and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, wherever and by whomever committed, and urge all States to take measures at the national and international level to eliminate international terrorism.
The Security Council -- as the principal international organ dealing with international peace and security -- has also long been involved in the fight against terrorism. Immediately after the 11 September attack on New York City and Washington, D.C., in its resolution 1368 (2001), it condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack against the United States and called on all States to work together urgently to bring the perpetrators to justice. By resolution 1333 (2000), it demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban authorities act swiftly to close all camps where terrorists are trained. By resolution 1269 (1999), it unequivocally condemned all acts of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, and called on Member States to adopt specific measures. By resolution 1267 (1999), it demanded that the Taliban turn over Usama bin Laden to appropriate authorities so that he can be brought to justice.
For its part, the General Assembly on the day of the attack strongly condemned the heinous acts of terrorism, and called for urgent action to enhance international cooperation to prevent and eradicate acts of terrorism.
The Vienna-based United Nations Terrorism Prevention Branch researches terrorism trends and assists countries in upgrading their capacities to investigate – but, above all, to prevent -- terrorist acts. The Branch is an arm of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.
For the text of the conventions, see: http://www.undcp.org/terrorism_conventions.html
For further information on the conventions adopted by the General Assembly, see: http://untreaty.un.org/ENGLISH/bible/englishinternetbible/partI/
For conventions related to civil aviation, see: http://www.icao.int/cgi/goto_leb.pl?icao/en/leb/treaty.htm
For the convention on maritime navigation, see: http://www.imo.org/HOME.html
For the convention on nuclear material, see: http://www.iaea.org/worldatom/Documents/Legal/cppn.shtml
For the United Nations Terrorism Prevention Branch, see: http://www.undcp.org/terrorism.html
For further information, please contact by e-mail: [email protected] or phone 212-963-8275.
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