Mesic, US’s Khalilzad discuss war on terror at Security Council

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Croatian President Stipe Mesic called for solidarity against terrorism.

Croatian President Stipe Mesic on Tuesday (December 9th) presided over a UN Security Council discussion on the global war on terror. Croatia is the current holder of the council’s rotating one-month presidency, a position its leaders view as the crowning achievement of their foreign policy so far.

The session lasted nine hours. In all, 47 members – 32 besides the 15 council member states – sought permission to speak.

In his remarks, Mesic called for a coalition formed "on the basis of relations on an equal footing" of its members. He appealed for international solidarity against terrorism and said non-military means should be used in fighting it.

A long-time critic of the Iraq war, Mesic voiced scepticism about the long-term effectiveness of force and of "pre-emptive action" outside UN auspices. The recent attacks in Mumbai, he suggested, showed the limitations of a military response.

In response, US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad said Washington "strongly supports the central role of the UN in the global fight against terrorism and wants to strengthen the UN’s ability and resolve to play a constructive and effective role".

Khalilzad recommended better co-ordination among UN counterterrorism programmes and urged member states to "make contributions to the broader counterterrorism effort – whether thru capacity building, education, economic development, or helping address conditions that terrorists and extremists exploit".

In a statement issued at the end of the session, council members urged countries to join international conventions, break up terrorist lairs, and arrest and extradite those who commit or assist terrorism. They also called on countries to observe human rights and the rule of law in their fight against terrorism.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon struck a similar note, asking countries to defend the values of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, signed 60 years ago this week.

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