UNITED NATIONS (Dec. 12)
The resolution passed yesterday by the General Assembly’s Sixth (Legal) Committee withholding United Nations action against international terrorism pending a 40-State study of root causes was excoriated last night by Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah, who said the measure “has crippled the organization and rendered it unable to act equitably and effectively.”
The resolution, he said, “makes a sheer mockery of the Secretary General’s request that the General Assembly take effective measures to prevent international terrorism, and is an affront to the worldwide concern to stamp out the plague of wanton murders and barbaric atrocities.”
Tekoah said the Afro-Asian-Arab-Soviet-backed resolution, approved by a vote of 76-34, with 16 abstentions, was “a further indication that the United Nations have reached a point of virtual incapacity to deal seriously and constructively with the principal problems which today confront the international community.” The U.S. and Britain voted against the resolution, China joined the Soviet Union in voting yes, and France abstained.
In some of the strongest remarks he has made about the world organization, Tekoah said outside the committee chamber after the vote that governments interested in combating international terrorism “can no longer expect anything useful in this field from the United Nations and…must consequently act on their own or in regional cooperation.”
ARAB STATES ACCOUNTABLE FOR SCOURGE
Israel’s policy, pending UN measures, has been to launch retaliatory raids against terrorist bases in Arab countries, despite wide international disapproval. It was understood, however, that Tekoah’s term “regional cooperation” does not refer to joint governmental reprisal raids.
The 15-nation resolution, endorsed by African States fearful of checks on anti-“colonialist” movements, recommends an in-depth study of the underlying causes of international terrorism. It also “invites” States to ratify existing anti-terrorism conventions and take “appropriate measures” on their own while respecting self-determination efforts.
The resolution, after weeks of debate and after Secretary General Kurt Waldheim and the U.S. had called for strong and appropriate action by the Assembly after the Sept. 5 massacre of 11 Israeli Olympians in Munich by Arab terrorists, was seen as a victory for the Arab-Soviet bloc and non-aligned nations which had sought to thwart any concerted effort to curb international terrorism.
Tekoah said the Arab States “have a considerable share in the responsibility for this deterioration of the United Nations,” since “in the debate on terrorism they have shown that in contravention of the United Nations Charter they continue to support international terrorism.” The Arabs “will, therefore, continue to be held accountable for the persistence of this scourge,” he declared.
Not considered by the Committee were two other draft resolutions. One–co-sponsored by Britain, Italy, Austria, Canada and eight others–proposed an international conference at “the earliest practical date” to consider a draft convention to be formulated by the UN’s International Law Commission. The second–sponsored by the United States–recommended an international conference early next year and stressed that legitimate liberation movements would not be stifled.
COULD TAKE AGES
The U.S. delegate, Ambassador W. Tapley Bennett, Jr., said passage of the resolution echoed the beginning of the disintegration of the League of Nations. This was understood to refer to the League’s inability to mobilize concerted action to prevent Italy from bombing Ethiopia and Japan from warring against China. The UN, Bennett warned, was evading its responsibilities and “an immediate world problem.”
British delegate John R. Freeland said the measure did not represent “the opinion of the majority of the world outside.” He said Britain “will redouble our own national effort (and seek) together with other countries whose concern is the same as ours–and their number is not small –to establish appropriate and effective measures on an international basis.”
French sources said that while international terrorism was “a fundamental matter of great importance,” a stronger resolution now was “un-realistic” and the only feasible option was to “try to find a compromise.” They explained: “You can’t impose on some States who are in any way reluctant to act on terrorism. The U.S. draft was not a bad idea–a good idea to start with, a good basis for discussions–but they tried to go too far. It’s unrealistic to ask for an international conference next year.” Asked how long completion of the root-cause study might take, the sources replied: “It’s very difficult to say anything about that. It could take ages.”