Statement by Mary McLeod, United States Legal Counselor, on Agenda Item 106 "Counter-terrorism", in the Sixth Committee of the 64th United Nations General Assembly

Mary McLeod, United States Legal Counselor
New York, NY
October 7, 2009


Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of all, allow me to congratulate you and the Bureau on your election. I know that you will provide wise and effective leadership for the Committee.

Mr. Chairman, the United States reiterates both our firm condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as well as our commitment to the common fight to end terrorism. All acts of terrorism – by whomever committed – are criminal, inhumane and unjustifiable, regardless of motivation, especially when they indiscriminately target and injure civilians. An unwavering and united effort by the international community is required if we are to succeed in preventing these heinous acts. In this respect, we recognize the United Nations’ central role in coordinating the efforts by member states in countering terrorism and bolstering the ability of states to prevent terrorist acts. We express our firm support for these UN efforts.

Through the UN system, 16 international legal instruments have been completed. These instruments provide a thorough legal framework for cooperation among states directed toward prevention of terrorist acts and ensuring the prosecution and punishment of offenders, wherever found.

We note the ongoing efforts to further enhance this legal framework and promote full and effective implementation of the provisions of these instruments. We believe the four latest counter-terrorism instruments adopted in 2005 – the Nuclear Terrorism Convention, the Amendment to the Convention on the Protection of Physical Nuclear Material, and the two Suppression of Unlawful Acts Protocols – are valuable additions to our collective efforts to combat terrorism.

We also note the recent meetings of the Legal Committee of the International Civil Aviation Organization to consider updates to the two civil aviation security Conventions – the 1970 Hague Convention and the 1971 Montreal Convention. We believe this international legal framework for countering terrorism must continue to be supported and developed, with states joining, implementing, and – where needed – refining these existing instruments.

The United States continues to support a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that would strengthen this existing legal regime and reinforce the critical principle that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism in any form. We firmly believe that any successful resolution to the outstanding CCIT issues must be predicated on a shared and clear understanding of two fundamental principles:

  • First, a comprehensive convention on terrorism cannot provide a carve-out for terrorist groups to claim their criminal acts are excluded from the scope of the CCIT in the name of national liberation, resistance to foreign occupation, or any other justification or motivation.
  • Second, as with other recent counter-terrorism instruments, a comprehensive convention should not reach state military action, which is subject to other international legal regimes.

We continue to believe that the Coordinator’s 2002 text best reflects these fundamental principles by incorporating text which 162 states have accepted in the Terrorist Bombings Convention. The text found in the Bombings Convention, as well as four other recent counter-terrorism instruments, was itself the subject of careful compromise. We are not persuaded that there are deficiencies with this text that need to be remedied. While we appreciate the efforts of those who have attempted to offer proposals to finalize the CCIT text, to date those proposals have not been supported by those who object to the Coordinator’s 2002 text. We stand prepared to carefully consider any new proposal that is consistent with the fundamental principles we have outlined, and encourage other states to do likewise.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, in response to the statement made by Cuba, I offer the following comments:

Contrary to what you have heard, the United States has taken a number of actions with respect to Luis Posada-Carriles. In taking these steps, the United States has acted consistent with international law as well as our domestic legal framework that provides for due process and various constitutional safeguards. These safeguards provide that an individual cannot be brought for trial or extradited unless sufficient evidence has been established with respect to the charges. In the United States, this is referred to as “probable cause.”

Let me give you a brief overview of steps the United States has taken with respect to Posada within this legal framework:

  • Posada entered the United States illegally in early 2005.
  • Posada was detained by immigration authorities in the United States on May 17, 2005, and he was, in accordance with U.S. law, placed in removal proceedings.
  • The immigration judge who handled the removal proceedings ordered that Posada be removed from the United States on September 27, 2005.
  • This order remains in effect. The United States has been seeking ways to implement it consistent with the terms of the order and U.S. obligations under the Convention Against Torture, and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
  • Moreover, the United States sought and obtained a criminal indictment in U.S. federal court charging Posada with violations of our immigration laws. On April 8, 2009, new criminal charges were brought against Posada in that case, accusing him of lying about his involvement in certain terrorist bombings in Havana, Cuba. The case is currently scheduled for trial early next year.
  • In the meantime, Posada remains subject to the order of removal issued by the immigration judge and is without legal status in the United States. He is also subject to an Order of Supervision from the Department of Homeland Security, which imposes certain restrictions on Posada, including reporting and monitoring requirements.
  • In sum, the United States continues to be engaged in an ongoing series of actions, consistent with our legal requirements and due process, with respect to Posada.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.


PRN: 2009/208