By Mr. Reaz Rahman, State Minister For Foreign Affairs
At Bilia Seminar On Fighting Terrorism In A Globalized
World 9 September 2002.
Chairman (Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed)
Mr. Director (Waliur Rahman)
Distinguished Guests of Honour and Respondents
Ladies and Gentlemen.
am privileged to participate in this important Round
Table discussion on "Fighting Terrorism in
a Globalized World". I thank the keynote speaker,
Mr. Mozammel Huq, General Manager Grameen Bank and
Mr. M. Amir-ul-Islam, Honorary Secretary, BILIA
for their important presentations.
meet today, on the eve of a shocking human tragedy
that has, as never before, spotlighted the issue
of international terrorism. The catastrophe of 11
September 2001 has scarred us all deeply. It's innocent
victims span the globe including many Bangladeshis.
It has brought irrevocable change and inevitable
hardship. Yet it has also honed and hardened a common
resolve to confront and condemn all such despicable
issues are at the forefront of today's Roundtable
discussion - Terrorism and Globalisation. There
is need to understand what they mean - what they
is a truism that terrorism is but one aspect of
many negative forces that shape the substance of
what we call globalisation. These include drugs,
organized crime, illicit transfer of small arms,
money-laundering, environmental degradation, new
diseases etc that have invaded all societies. All
have intrinsic linkages. None respect borders. They
all call, for collective approaches and concerted
Globalisation entails more than the negative factors.
It has been impelled by two crucial forces-mass
consciousness of individual rights and the impact
of science and technology. The first has seen the
push for fundamental rights, elevation of humanitarian
concerns and the worldwide sweep of democracy. The
second, (advances in science and technology) has
seen the closing of the information and communication
gap. They along with economic forces and markets
and especially the mobility of capital, labour and
business have effaced national frontiers. Together,
these forces have changed the nature of our world,
challenged the context and meaning of sovereignty
and infused the need for new and dynamic approaches.
Of key importance in this context are issues of
growth, equity and poverty in particular. The States
role as the sole or key actor is being confronted
by multilateral financial institutions such as the
Bretton Woods organizations, by civil society -
transnational/multinational corporations, NGO's,
human rights activists etc. Good governance, transparency,
accountability are gauges that measure political
and economic stability.
this is juxtaposed the issue of terrorism. This
itself has undergone a significant metamorphosis
in our understanding and consciousness. Terrorism
is not a new phenomenon. It has always been with
us as a form of low-intensity conflict. What is
new today, is that it has assumed new and diabolical
ways to kill and injure people and destabilize governments
through spectacular damage. Uptil now, there was
an ambivalent attitude regarding terrorism. It was
someone else's problem, whether the fight was taken
up against oppressive governments or alien rule.
It is only now, after 11 September, that the need
has grown for a universal fight against terrorism.
Today, it is being recognized as a heinous crime
against humanity as a whole and one that has affected
the entire globalized world. It has shattered collective
confidence. The fall out has been a chain reaction
terrorism has a sort of nebulous elasticity in our
minds. We think of hijacking imperiling air - travel;
of the use of sarin gas and poisoning of drinking
water. It encompasses chemical and biological weapons,
and weapons of mass destruction including nuclear
weapons being sold to unscrupulous agents. We have
extended the scope to state-sponsored terrorism.
There is the whole issue of cross-border terrorism.
We think in terms of cyber terrorism. The dire danger
of preventive or pre-emptive attacks against terrorists
has been highlighted by the keynote speaker. Today,
the source can be anywhere, as countries become
more integrated, more multi-ethnic, multi-racial
follows from the above, that there is considerable
uncertainty over what acts constitute terrorism?
Who can or should be described as a terrorist? One
definition was to define terrorist acts as mindless
acts of violence with no defined political agenda
or gain that seek to coerce, intimidate and lash
out indiscriminately and with blind hatred against
governments and societies. However, this was considered
to restrictive. Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohammad
of Malaysia at a recent special Foreign Ministers
Conference of the OIC on Terrorism held at Kuala
Lumpur (1-3 April,, 2002) stated that " Armed
attacks or other forms of attacks against civilians
must be regarded as acts of terror and the perpetrators
regarded as terrorists. Whether the attackers are
acting on their own or on the orders of their government,
whether they are regulars or irregulars, if the
attack is against civilians, then they must be considered
as terrorist". Indeed, whatever the definitions
have been advanced, none so far, have received universal
acceptance. Currently, the international community
is working towards the early conclusion of a Comprehensive
Convention on International Terrorism.
are accordingly aware, that terrorism has no consistent
profile, that it has many variables reflecting the
increasing complexity of human society. Perhaps
the best way of approaching it is to underline what
Terrorism is not. First and foremost, we must emphasise
that terrorism has no connection to any one religion
or any particular region of the world. Preventive
action to combat terrorism should not result in
ethnic or religious profiling or targeting of a
particular community. In other words, combating
terrorism should not assume the form of any generalized
action against any nation or people on the basis
of a misperception/misinterpretation of their religious
beliefs, convictions and practices. We must, as
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia said " reject stereo-typing
the association of any religion with terrorism".
Second, we must underline as a key exception, the
principled position in international law and the
UN Charter of the legitimacy of resistance to foreign
aggression and the struggle of people under colonial
or alien domination and foreign occupation for national
liberation and self-determination.
factor of key importance that has sometimes been
ignored is to dispassionately identify and address
the root causes of terrorism rather than only the
symptoms of this phenomenon - poverty, injustice,
exclusion are some of the key elements.
around the world there is a collective resolve to
combat terrorism and to respond to developments
affecting all of us, especially Muslim and Islamic
countries, in the aftermath of the 11 September
attacks. Bangladesh along with other Muslim countries
has unequivocally condemned acts of terrorism in
all its forms and manifestations including state
terrorism, irrespective of motives, perpetrators
and victims, as terrorism poses a serious threat
to international peace and security and is a great
violation of human rights.
In this connection, I would like to flag that the
OIC indeed, has taken a series of measures to combat
international terrorism including adoption of a
Code of Conduct and a Specific Convention on combating
international terrorism and a far reaching declaration
and plan of action at the Kuala Lumpur Conference
in April 2002.
Among key measures the following suggestions may
1. Efforts must be based on a sound strategy to
combat international terrorism. This must be a multi-pronged
approach and should not rely on military options
alone. Continued use of arms in the long run would
2. We must address deep-routed political and economic
problems that lie at the heart of terrorism.
3. The fight against terrorism will be more active
if we work to promote dialogue, understanding and
harmony among different nations and peoples with
different beliefs and creeds, cultures and civilizations.
As Prime Minister Khaleda Zia underlined "self-defeating
prejudices will not help us.
4. We must work towards the early conclusion of
a comprehensive convention on International Terrorism.
5. We must work towards an internationally agreed
definition of terrorism and terrorist acts. This
must be differentiated from the legitimate struggle
and resistance of peoples under colonial rule, alien
domination or foreign occupation for national liberation
6. We must work towards the early convening of an
International Conference under UN auspices to formulate
a joint organized response to terrorism in all its
forms and manifestations. Combat against terrorism
should be carried forward through contact and consultations
on actions needed and consensus on modalities and
options available at their disposal.
7. We support all efforts undertaken under auspices
of UN in conformity with the UN Charter and international
law including implementation of UN Security Council
Resolutions particularly UNSC 1373 as well as expediting
access to or ratification of relevant International
Conventions and Protocols relating to international
terrorism. Make every effort to support a collective
security regime (N.B. Bangladesh is already a member
of the International Coalition Against Terrorism).
8. At the national level we must continue to pursue
policies and strategies aimed at fostering the well-being
and prosperity of our peoples through good governance
and Rule of Law and address and resolve domestic
factors that contribute to terrorism.
9. Participation and awareness of people in general,
NGO's and civil society is crucial.