CANBERRA - U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has used the approaching 10th anniversary of September 11 attacks on the United States to renew his call for a global counter-terrorism treaty, which has been thwarted for a decade amid arguments over what constitutes terrorism.
The U.N. has more than 13 separate treaties which cover terrorism, terror financing, hijacking and weapons of mass destruction, but wants a global convention to unite all aspects of counter terrorism and provide new impetus to combat threats.
"Our goal is to have a comprehensive convention dealing with the whole of international terrorism," Ban told a briefing on a visit to Australia, two days before the anniversary of the al Qaeda-masterminded attacks that killed about 3,000 people.
"Regrettably, this has not come to this day. There has been some disagreement among member states," he added on the last day of his trip, which also took in New Zealand and South Pacific.
India is a strong supporter of the global treaty, but disagreements in the Middle East about what organizations can be deemed terror organizations have long scuttled any agreement.
Instead, the United Nations in 2001 set up a Counter Terrorism Committee, made up of members of the U.N. Security Council, which oversees global efforts to fight terrorism. In 2005 the Security Council adopted a resolution to urge member states to deny safe haven for anyone planning acts of terrorism. Ban, however, said last month's bombing of a U.N. building in Nigeria showed that threats remained, despite global efforts.
The car bomb attack killed 23 people and injured 80.
"My position is that terrorism cannot be justified under any circumstances. For whatever justifications, this must be stopped," Ban said.
He said he had vivid memories of the 2001 attacks on the United States, which forced the evacuation of U.N. headquarters and prompted him to draft an emergency resolution. At the time, he was the chief of the U.N. cabinet.
"It was quite a chaotic situation for the United Nations," he said, adding the General Assembly had re-convened within 24 hours of the attacks.
"The first thing we did, and I initiated, was to work up the strongest possible resolution on the terror attacks. This condemned the terrorist attack in the strongest possible terms.
I feel proud to have been part of this effort."
Ban left Australia on Friday to return to New York, where he will take part in events to mark the anniversary and remember the victims of the attacks. (Reuters)