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GA1 Committee


Terrorism is a major topic in the twenty first century since the September 11th attacks on the United States. But terrorism had been around long before these attacks, and will continue to erode the security and peace of all nations unless the sources of discontent can be identified and dealt with. The term “terrorism” is applied to an instance of the use of force often on the basis of whether the speaker agrees with the goal of violence. Hence the expression, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Terrorism, however, is any act committed by government or nongovernmental actors with the purpose to strike violently at innocent civilians. Unlike military strikes, the goal is civilian, and not military, installations. The task before the United Nations is to “…develop a broad, comprehensive and above all sustained strategy to combat terrorism and eradicate it from our world.”[1] This strategy will not depend solely on the military or education of others, but also on a restriction on the acquisition of small arms and weapons of mass destruction from the black market. The terrorist acts of September 11th have taught us all that we live in a world not separated by borders but connected through infinite facets of life with a common goal to eliminate terrorism.

Terrorism is caused by religious differences, territorial disputes, culture clashes, corrupt foreign policies, etc. In the past, the Irish Republican Army has bombed British pubs in defiance of British control of Northern Ireland. In 1972 at the Olympic games, the world community was devastated by the murder of 11 Israeli athletes by a Palestinian group called Black September. Bombings in Kashmir between India and Pakistan killed thousands, and guerrilla fighting in East Timor led to intentional killing of civilians. Civilian hostages have been taken in Beirut and in Iran, and airline highjackings are typical tools of terrorism in the twentieth century. All of these groups used terrorism as a tool to call international attention to their problems. Past attempts by the UN to resolve acts of terrorism have not produced any sustained results, and resolutions condemning these acts have had little effect on terrorist networks. Not until 2,801 civilian deaths in the September 11th attacks, has the world decided, with strong U.S. urging, to support action against terrorism in a broad global coalition. The UN is the defender of international peace and is now challenged to live up to its birthright. To maintain international integrity it must develop and implement a decisive and sustained plan to disarm terrorist and deter future terrorist attacks.

Disarming terrorist groups is difficult due to their ability to hide and stash small arms. Networks among terrorists, drug traffickers and arms brokers make it easy to trade on the black market. The UN urges states to provide assistance to combat drug trafficking and transnational organized crime to keep these weapons off the black market. These protocols, however, do not curb the trafficking of small arms sufficiently; and weapons are still widely available. Larger weapons of mass destruction are also a challenge for the UN to restrict. With the break up of the Soviet Union, new states born with weapons of mass destruction have heightened the risk of terrorists gaining access to weapons of mass destruction. Many of these new states’ economies are in shambles and are selling weapons to gain capital. It is necessary that the UN help these states economically to deter such sales. The Department for Disarmament Affairs in the UN is producing a public report on the potential use of weapons of mass destruction in terrorist acts. This report would make use of existing United Nations resources and specialized databases, as well as information received from Member States, and could serve as a barometer of terrorist danger.[2] The report also states the expectation of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Health Organization to give assistance in the use or threat of weapons of mass destruction. The UN is also creating assistance and advice on how to develop and maintain adequate defense capabilities against the use of weapons of mass destruction. Ethical norms, and the creation of codes of conduct for scientists are being encouraged through international and national scientific societies that teach sciences or engineering skills related to weapons technologies. These codes of conduct would be aimed at preventing the involvement of defense scientists in terrorist activities.[3]

A growing issue in the UN is whether to breach the sovereignty of states to defend against terrorism. It must consider rogue nations that possess and are producing weapons of mass destruction, as well as those that arm terrorist groups and the countries harboring them. The possibility of terrorist groups gaining access to biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons is daunting. The situation in Iraq is a case in point, in which Saddam Hussein and his regime have been in defiance of UN resolutions for weapons inspections over the last ten years. Iraq is also allegedly still producing weapons of mass destruction and possibly arming terrorists. Although Iraq has accepted unconditional weapon inspections, the situation is far from resolved. The United States distrusts Saddam Hussein and may launch military strikes into Iraq if the United Nations does not take up immediate action on the issue. After the September 11th attacks the United States is determined, and if necessary will supersede the UN, to rid the world of any potential regimes that support, harbor, or arm terrorists. The UN could lose its integrity as an active role in world affairs if it fails to deal with the arming of terrorists. The UN is also committed to restricting weapons of mass destruction in states with poor humanitarian history, totalitarian regimes, and aggressive military policies. If the United Nations does not address these challenges, the global community will suffer.

The Unite Nations’ task is to restrict and prevent the trafficking of arms and disarm terrorists and countries likely to supply them. It will pursue these goals in the twenty first century and at the same time try to maintain the values and ethics on which the organization was founded on. After the September 11th attacks, Koffi Annan said, “these vicious assaults on our common humanity have had the effect of reaffirming our common humanity. The very heartlessness and callous indifference to the suffering and grief caused to thousands of innocent families has brought a heartfelt response from millions of ordinary people all over the world, in many different societies.” It is this common humanity that the United Nations was born to protect and defend; it is a challenge of the future and a goal to acquire necessary for peace.

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The official web site of the United Nations

UN web site on Terrorism and Disarmament with links

Recommendations of experts on terrorism and disarmament

Symposium on Terrorism and Disarmament

History of bio-terrorism

[1]Koffi Annan, address to General Assembly Sept 21, 2001. New York Times




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