Categorisation of terrorism on the basis of motivation is ‘dangerous’, says India

India also asserted that states that provide shelter to terrorists should be called out and held accountable for their deeds, a veiled reference to Pakistan.

Updated - March 10, 2023 11:04 pm IST

Published - March 10, 2023 11:28 am IST - United Nations

India’s Permanent Representative to the U.N. Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj | File

India’s Permanent Representative to the U.N. Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj | File | Photo Credit: ANI

India has said that the tendency to categorise terrorism on the basis of motivations behind terrorist acts is “dangerous” and asserted that all kinds of terror attacks, whether motivated by Islamophobia, anti-Sikh, anti-Buddhist or anti-Hindu prejudices, are condemnable.

Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, said on March 9 that the international community needs to stand guard against new terminologies and false priorities that can dilute its focus on combatting the scourge of terrorism.

“The tendency of categorisation of terrorism based on the motivations behind terrorist acts is dangerous and goes against the accepted principles that ‘terrorism in all its forms and manifestations should be condemned and there cannot be any justification for any act of terrorism, whatsoever’,” she said at the First Reading of the Draft Resolution on 8th Review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (GCTS).

Underlining that there cannot be good or bad terrorists, Ms. Kamboj said such an approach “will only take us back to the pre-9/11 era of labelling terrorists as ‘Your Terrorists’ and ‘My Terrorists’ and erase the collective gains the international community has made over the last two decades”.

“Moreover, some of the terminologies such as right or right-wing extremism, or far-right or far-left extremism opens the gate for misuse of these terms by vested interests. We, therefore, need to be wary of providing a variety of classifications, which may militate against the concept of democracy itself,” she said.

India also asserted that states that provide shelter to terrorists should be called out and held accountable for their deeds, a veiled reference to Pakistan.

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The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy is a “unique global instrument” to enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter-terrorism. Through its adoption by consensus in 2006, all UN member states agreed for the first time to a common strategic and operational approach to fighting terrorism.

“The Strategy does not only send a clear message that terrorism is unacceptable in all its forms and manifestations but it also resolves to take practical steps, individually and collectively, to prevent and combat terrorism,” according to the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism.

The UN General Assembly reviews the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy every two years, “making it a living document attuned to Member States’ counter-terrorism priorities”.

Ms. Kamboj stressed that it is important to protect the secular nature of the strategy. She said India strongly condemns all kinds of terrorist attacks irrespective of religion, belief, culture, race or ethnicity.

“We strongly condemn terrorist attacks motivated by Islamophobia, Christianphobia, Anti-Semitism, Anti-Sikh, Anti-Buddhist, Anti-Hindu prejudices,” she said.

She noted that the 7th Review of the strategy took into account attacks motivated by Islamophobia, Christianphobia and anti-Semitism only while failing to address the rest.

“A more sagacious approach would be to keep this reference broad, abandoning thereby a list-based approach in the current Review,” she said.

The UNGA resolution adopted in June 2021 on the 7th Review had recognized “with deep concern the overall rise in instances of discrimination, intolerance and violence, regardless of the actors, directed against members of religious and other communities in various parts of the world, including cases motivated by Islamophobia, antisemitism, Christianophobia and prejudice against persons of any other religion or belief.” Kamboj expressed concern that the threat of terrorism is persistent and rising, in particular, in Africa and Asia.

“As if we had less on our plate, the online space has become another frontier for terrorist groups to achieve their nefarious goals. The easy accessibility, affordability, anonymity, untraceability, and universal reach offered by new and emerging communications, financial, and other technologies, have played out as an exogenous multiplier factor exacerbating the terrorist threat manyfold,” she said.

She also noted that the Special Meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, held in India in October last year and the Delhi Declaration adopted on countering the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes has highlighted this threat and also the need for a holistic approach to address this threat.

Ms. Kamboj appealed that “we may preserve the unity of unequivocal support to the strategy and not surrender the “consensus” to exclusivist and narrow approaches. A unified, multilateral action against terrorism has never been so inevitable as it is today.” The global strategy is composed of four pillars- addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; measures to prevent and combat terrorism; measures to build states’ capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and strengthen the role of the United Nations system in that regard; and measures to ensure respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as the fundamental basis for the fight against terrorism.

Ms. Kamboj said it is important to preserve the balance among all pillars and attempts to dilute the language of the second and third pillars will be a “self-defeating goal”, she said.

She added that ideally, the technical update should also have taken into account the activities and significant contributions of some international fora such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), due to which member states known for their laxity on terror financing were compelled to take preventive actions, another apparent reference to Pakistan.

Expansion in membership

Later, addressing the Informal Meeting of the Plenary on the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN), Ms. Kamboj said expansion in permanent and non-permanent categories of the UN Security Council is “absolutely essential” to ensure that voices of developing countries and unrepresented regions find their due place at the world body’s top organ.

She said the expansion of both categories is the only way to bring the Security Council’s decision-making dynamics in line with contemporary geo-political realities.

“We need a Security Council that better reflects the geographical and developmental diversity of the United Nations today. A Security Council where voices of developing countries and unrepresented regions, including Africa, Latin America and the vast majority of Asia and the Pacific, find their due place at the table,” Ms. Kamboj said.

She said to achieve this objective, an expansion of the 15-nation Council in both categories of membership is absolutely essential.

“This is the only way to bring the Council’s composition and decision-making dynamics in line with contemporary geo-political realities. If countries are truly interested in making the Security Council more accountable and more credible, we call on them to come out openly and support a clear pathway to achieve this reform in a time-bound manner, through the only established process in the UN, which is by engaging in negotiations based on text and not through speaking at each other or past each other as we have done for the last three decades,” she said.

The meeting was convened meeting on two clusters - the size of an enlarged Security Council and working methods of the Council and the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly.

In a significant development in the slow-moving reform process, for the time, the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform were webcast. President of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly Csaba Korosi termed this as a “game-changing approach” and expressed gratitude to IGN Co-Chairs Permanent Representative of Kuwait Ambassador Tareq Albanai and Permanent Representative of Austria Ambassador Axel Marschik.

Terming this development as a “recent evolution within the Inter-Governmental Negotiations”, Kamboj voiced appreciation for the co-chairs for recommending a webcast of the first segment of each of the IGN meetings and establishing a specific website to act as a repository of the recordings of the webcasts as well as of the letters, decisions and other documents related to the IGN process, as well as links to the statements of the member states.

“This is a small welcome step in the right direction. We do hope that this will force multiply positively to the updation of the Elements Paper and the attribution of positions thereof, under each of the five clusters. We very much also hope that webcasting of the proceedings and the establishing of a website, will enable delegations to innovate their remarks and avoid repetition,” she said.

India and other G4 nations of Brazil, Germany and Japan have repeatedly said that the IGN is constrained by a lack of openness and transparency.

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Ms. Kamboj asserted that on the issue of the size of the Council, there already exists a convergence among the members.

“We all agree that the Security Council’s size should be expanded in order to make it more legitimate and representative.” She said the revised number of total Council seats should be in the “mid to upper 20s, no less than 26 seats”, which allows for an adequate balance between representativeness, legitimacy and effectiveness.

“But this number should be an outcome of text-based negotiations on the key issues of categories of membership and regional representation,” she said.

The Council currently is composed of five permanent members — China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. and 10 elected non-permanent members who serve two-year terms. India completed its tenure as a non-permanent member of the Council in December last year.

Ms. Kamboj added that the Council would be more transparent, efficient, and effective if its working methods were revised and updated. The methods would need to be adapted to the size and composition of a reformed Council.

“The fundamental problem in the Security Council stems from its lack of representativeness,” she said.

Further, Kamboj said there are items on the agenda of the Security Council on which discussion has not taken place for more than seven decades.

“We also underscore the need for a fair distribution of responsibilities between elected and permanent members. Selection of Chairs of subsidiary bodies and distribution of pen-holderships must be open, transparent, based on exhaustive consultations, and with a more integrated perspective. This is one of the best ways to enhance the decision-making process,” she said.

Noting that the role of the 193-member General Assembly remains essential, as the most universally representative deliberative organ of the United Nations, she stressed that it is therefore important to maintain regular coordination and interaction between the Security Council and the General Assembly as well as the other main organs of the UN, while respecting the specific competencies and mandates of these organs.

Terming the mandate of the Security Council and the General Assembly as unique and distinct, she said both are the principal organs of the United Nations.

“The ‘veto initiative’, despite its noble objective, ended up removing the discretion and decision-making ability of the President of the General Assembly. Let us not forget the fact that we already had mechanisms in place, which enabled the membership of the General Assembly to decide on an “emergency basis” to convene discussions or even act on issues that are stalemated in the Security Council,” she said.

In April last year, the UN General Assembly decided to automatically meet within 10 days, if the veto is used in the Security Council by one of its five permanent members.

Following the adoption of the resolution on the veto initiative, the use of the veto in the Council by a permanent member now triggers a General Assembly meeting, where all UN members can scrutinise and comment on the veto. The decision came in the wake of Russia using its veto in the Council, the day after it invaded Ukraine in February last year.

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