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United Nations Votes to Condemn Terrorism as Criminal

December 7, 1985

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ U.N. General Assembly members, in an unprecedented move, voted overwhelmly Friday to condemn all acts of terrorism as criminal.

Cuba was the only dissenter in the 118-1 vote. Israel and Burkina Faso, formerly Upper Volta, abstained.

The Soviet bloc, Nicaragua and such hardline Arab states as Syria supported the resolution although they had wanted it to specifically condemn ″state terrorism″ - the term they use for Israeli raids on Arab territory and U.S. support of the Nicaraguan rebels.

Iran was among 37 states not participating in the vote in the assembly’s legal committee.

The resolution represented a compromise to overcome more than a decade of wrangling over the definition of terrorism, with one country’s ″terrorist″ being another nation’s ″freedom fighter.″

It offered a loose definition, referring to ″acts of international terrorism in all its forms which endanger or take innocent lives, jeopardize fundamental freedoms and seriously impair the dignity of human beings.″

U.S. delegate Robert Rosenstock, speaking with reporters, called the resolution and vote a ″major achievement of this session.″ He said it was the first time that assembly delegates agreed on a broad condemnation of international terrorism. In the past, U.N. agencies have adopted a piecemeal approach, attacking specific acts such as air piracy.

Despite the Cuban dissent, Rosenstock told the other delegates that the resolution demonstrated ″the entire United Nations speaking in one voice in its condemnation of terrorism.″

Western representatives said the recent kidnapping and killing of a Soviet diplomat in Lebanon had made the Soviets more sensitive to the problem.

Since the legal committee includes all 158 voting members of the General Assembly, the resolution’s adoption in plenary session is assured.

After a compromise text had been negotiated, Cuba reportedly bolted from the deal to pass the resolution by consensus without a vote.

Cuban Ambassador Oscar Oramas-Oliva said the resolution did not identify those ″who are responsible for acts of state terrorism and who are its victims.″ He accused the United States of engaging in state terrorism against Nicaragua and, through the Central Intelligence Agency, against Cuba. South Africa and Israel also practice state terrorism, he added.

The resolution ″unequivocably condemns, as criminal, all acts, methods and practices of terrorism wherever and by whomever committed, including those wheich jeopardize friendly relations among states and their security.″

As a direct result of the hijackaing of the Iralian cruise ship Achille Lauro, the resolution asks the International Martime Organization, a U.N. agency, ″to study the problem of terrorism aboard or against ships with a view to making recommendations on appropriate measures.″

The resolution calls on all states to ″refrain from organizing, instigating, assisting or participating in terrorist acts in other states, or acquiescing in activities within their territory directed towards the commission of such acts.″

It also urged governments to cooperate more closely in exchanging information to combat terrorism, and to apprehend and prosecute or extradite the perpetrators.

To meet Third World concerns, it said all states should cooperate to eliminate the ″causes underlying international terrorism and to pay special attention to all situations, including ... colonialsm, racism and situations involving a consisternt pattern of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms and those involving alien occupation, that may give rise to international terrorism.″

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