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UN Assembly Urged to Draft Measure to Bar Taking of Hostages and to Punish Those Who Commit Such Act

West German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher made a strong appeal to the 31st UN General Assembly today to draft a convention that would bar the taking of hostages and make sure that the perpetrators of such an act are either extradited or brought to trial in the country where they are seized.

“Acts involving the taking of hostages are a threat to international relations. The efforts made by all states to settle international conflicts peacefully and also the endeavors of this world organization to make peace more secure are placed in jeopardy by criminal acts of violence committed by a few,” Genscher declared. He added that after “the bitter experiences” of recent months, all governments must unite in condemning the seizure of hostages and introduce measures against it.

The West German Foreign Minister said his government was “convinced that it should be possible soon to arrive at such a convention within the framework of the UN. The government of the Federal Republic will therefore request that an item on international action on the taking of hostages be included in the agenda of this General Assembly as an important and urgent matter,” Genscher said.

This year’s General Assembly agenda already contains an item for discussion on measures to combat international terrorism. Observers here noted that Genscher did not mention terrorism in his proposals and that the agenda item also includes a call for a study of the causes of international terrorism; The latter was inspired by the Arab states. The UN so far has failed to adopt anti-terrorism measures largely because of objections by the Arab and African states which contend that such measures could be an obstacle to national liberation movements. (See P. 2 for related Assembly story.)

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