Resolution on Hostages Seems Doomed by Arab, African Opposition

A West German resolution seeking international action against the holding of hostages by terrorists seems likely to fail because of opposition by African and Arab delegates to the UN General Assembly’s Legal Committee. The resolution, supported by 19 other countries, mainly Western, calls for those who take hostages to be brought to trial or handed over to the country against which the action is aimed.

Libya, supported by other Afro-Arab countries, is seeking to make the measure applicable only when “innocent” hostages are involved, a change that would destroy the effectiveness of the measure. West Germany, which initiated the resolution in September, is not prepared to accept this. Observers believe Bonn would rather withdraw the resolution. A Libyan delegate said the measure must not remove the right of liberation movements to fight for their goals “with all the means at their disposal.”

Libya is also seeking to refer the question of punishment for hostage-taking to a special committee envisaged in Bonn’s resolution that would draft the final convention. German observers see this as an attempt to weaken the forms of action Bonn has proposed.

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