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UN Security Council Reorganizes Counterterrorism Apparatus - 2004-03-26


The UN Security Council is reorganizing its counterterrorism apparatus to strengthen its anti-terror campaign. Countries that refuse to cooperate will be publicly identified.

The Security Council authorized a new Counterterrorism Directorate Friday. The 33-person group will have authority to get tough with countries that ignore international anti-terrorism conventions.

Spain's U.N. ambassador, Inocencio Arias, who heads the Council's Counterterrorism Committee, says an alarming number of countries are lagging behind in the war on terror. A separate committee on sanctions against al-Qaida and the Taleban recently reported that more than half the U.N. member states were failing to enforce the sanctions.

Ambassador Arias says the new directorate will be given a list of countries that have been slow to adopt new laws and take other anti-terror steps. In cases where the failure is due to a lack of means or technical reasons, the country will be offered assistance.

But he says any nation that simply shows a lack of political will be publicly called to account. "They will have to come to the committee, name them, and the committee will have to take it to the Security Council. This is a very serious matter, and all states are bound to. If it is a lack of political will, we will have to name them. This is no time for games with terrorism," he said.

Ambassador Arias, whose country was recently victimized by a terrorist attack on Madrid's railway system, declined to name names of countries that have not complied, at least yet. But he said the Middle East region has been the slowest to ratify international anti-terrorism conventions.

"I can tell you that the Middle East in order to ratify the convention against terrorism is going much behind," he said. "The whole Middle East. But it's not for me to name names right now. The ratification of convention has Europeans doing quite well. Latin America, well. Southeast Asia slowly and the Middle East very slowly."

Ambassador Arias said the world body needs someone like Hans Blix to serve as counterterrorism director. He said only an independent and honest person such as the highly regarded former U.N. arms inspector could put a stop to the political maneuvering of countries trying to avoid compliance with anti-terrorism conventions.

The Spanish ambassador said if word gets out that one country or another is exempted from compliance, the United Nations would become an international laughingstock.

The new counterterrorism directorate is expected to be in operation by the end of June.