U.N. urges states to get moving on anti-terror plan
VIENNA (Reuters) - U.N. officials urged member states on Wednesday to act to ensure a global anti-terrorism plan approved by the General Assembly last year does not remain a symbolic piece of paper.
About 100 of the 192 nations that adopted the plan by consensus, as well as U.N. agencies and counter-terrorism experts, meet in Vienna on May 17-18 to weigh steps to translate the ambitious "plan of action" into reality.
The plan laid out eight pages of broad goals and measures to prevent terrorist acts, address conditions such as lawlessness that may foster terrorism and help nations build their security capabilities while respecting human rights.
"We have to make this plan lively, more concrete, in order for it not to remain just a piece of paper," Jean-Paul Laborde, head of the anti-terrorism unit in the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told a press briefing ahead of the meeting.
"There is tendency for member states in the U.N. to struggle very hard to come to a consensus and adopt a document and then lose interest, leave it there," said Thomas Stelzer, Austrian ambassador to U.N. organizations in Vienna.
While crumbling states like Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia were acknowledged as founts of terrorism, the threat was global and the meeting would encourage member states to spell out their requests for help in curbing the scourge, U.N. officials said.
"Our challenge is not to solve a country-specific situation but improve instruments we have to help each country address its concerns," said Robert Orr, an assistant U.N. secretary-general who heads its Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force.
Among priorities, he said, were to help states shield civilians from terrorism, counter economic shock effects of attacks to avoid marginalization of communities, and to ensure human rights do not suffer from anti-terrorist crackdowns.
U.N. officials acknowledged that the plan did not cover intelligence-sharing between governments, a key building block of counter-terrorism moves, but said this did not mean the Vienna forum was a mere talk shop.
"The fight against terrorism has been very fragmented within the United Nations, with a lot of players not well coordinated. This strategy (of global consultation) may enable us to mainstream terrorism into the U.N.'s work," said Stelzer.
Adoption of the counter-terrorism strategy just before the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States followed a year of politicized wrangling over the details.
The document glossed over some controversies that have plagued U.N. efforts to fight terrorism, such as a formal definition of the phenomenon, reflecting differences between the Islamic world and the West over the roots of militant violence.
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