Opening Remarks by H.E. Mr. Ichiro Aisawa,
Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, JAPAN

At the Seminar on the Promotion of Accession to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism

December 2, 2004, at Tokyo

1. (Introduction)

In opening, I would like to extend my sincere welcome to all of you to the Seminar on the Promotion of Accession to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, representing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

At the Bali Regional Ministerial Meeting, which was held in February this year, I have stressed the importance of early conclusion and implementation of all of the twelve Counter-Terrorism Conventions and Protocols and looked your countries' Ministers to take a political initiative to this end. At the same time, I recognized the need to provide technical assistance to those countries which have the political will but not the capacity to conclude those conventions and protocols. In this sense, it is my great pleasure to see this seminar organized by Japan, with the aim to share expertise and experiences in concluding those conventions and protocols.

I would also like to add that the seminar is organized by my country as a coordinator of the stream of the criminalization of the Bali Ministerial Meeting's follow up process.

2. (Situation Surrounding Terrorism)

Since the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, the international community has accelerated its cooperation in the fight against terrorism, and a lot of progress has been achieved.

However, as all of you may agree, the threat posed by international terrorism remains serious, which is evident from the fact that many terrorist incidents are continuing to take place all over the world, and in South East Asia as well, the terrorist attack was launched this September which targeted the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.

Among various terrorist organizations, Al-Qaeda or Jemaah Islamiyah, which is the most serious threat in the South East Asia, exploits the nature of a free, open society, and global mobility of people, goods, and funds, which is expanded by development of international transportation, commerce and financial transactions.

In order to eradicate international terrorist networks, such as Al-Qaeda, it is impossible for one country alone to achieve this goal. It is inevitable for international community to unite in the fight against terrorism.

3. (Importance of International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism)

In this regard, it is extremely important to conclude 12 international counter-terrorism conventions and protocols in order to ensure that anyone who committed offences defined in those conventions and protocols would be either extradited or prosecuted, regardless of their whereabouts.

And it is essential that these conventions and protocols are concluded by all countries as soon as possible, in order to prevent terrorists from slipping through the net.

And among the 12 counter-terrorism conventions and protocols, I would like to point out that the conclusion of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism is extremely important for the purpose of preventing terrorism, because financing is an important element in preparing terrorism, and the Convention criminalizes the act of financing terrorism irrespective of whether terrorist act actually happens.

4. (Status of the level of conclusion of the Convention)

In this regard, it is regrettable to admit that the current status of the level of ratification or implementation of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism in the Asia and Pacific region lags behind other regions. That is to say, only five out of ten ASEAN countries have ratified and fully implemented this Convention, while 117 countries have ratified it around the world.

It can be said that as long as this region does not proceed in ratification and implementation of this convention, the region may send messages to the terrorists that the Asia and Pacific region does not make enough progress in the counter-terrorism measures, and such situation makes this region, in the eyes of terrorists, a loophole among the global network of efforts for the fight against terrorism.

In another word, the slow progress of the conclusion of the convention would draw terrorist activities into this region and I believe that all of us could understand that such situation would pose us more threat from the terrorists.

5. (Criminalization)

I have stressed the importance of ratification or conclusion of the convention, that is, the criminalization of financing of terrorism. I would like to point out in this regard that "Criminalization" is nothing less than conclusion of Counter-Terrorist Conventions and Protocols and their implementation through relevant domestic laws and regulations. And it is counter-productive to pay such efforts as to define terrorism regionally, recalling in this regard that regional counter-terrorism agreements do not substitute the International Counter-Terrorism Conventions and Protocols as mentioned in United Nations Security Council Resolution such as UNSCR 1566.

I would also like to mention that if each country "criminalizes" the terrorist acts in accordance with the 12 Counter-Terrorism Conventions and Protocols, the prerequisite of "dual criminality" for the extradition would be satisfied and that would facilitate the smooth extradition and legal cooperation between the concerned governments.

6. (Political will toward the conclusion of the Convention)

I have mentioned the importance for the conclusion of the counter-terrorism conventions and protocols, but at the same time, we understand that it is difficult to achieve that goal only by the relevant authorities in each country. I would like to make it clear that in order to accelerate domestic process toward the conclusion of International Counter-Terrorism Conventions and Protocols; it is inevitable to further strengthen the political will in each country in order to accomplish this aim.

In this regard, just the day before yesterday, Prime Minister Mr. Koizumi and ASEAN leaders adopted "ASEAN-Japan Joint Declaration for Cooperation in the Fight against International Terrorism". And in this declaration, the ASEAN member countries are called upon to become as a matter of urgency parties to all of 12 the Counter-Terrorism Conventions and Protocols.

This is extremely important that the will which is necessary for the promotion of the accession to the Conventions was confirmed at the level of the heads of state and government.

7. (Importance of capacity building)

And I also wish to add that in some of the countries, although there is strong will toward the conclusion of the Convention, may lack the technical resources that are necessary to conclude and implement the Convention. In this regard, further strengthening the capacity building assistance for countries in need is indispensable. With regard to the capacity building assistance in the field of conclusion of the Counter-Terrorism Conventions and Protocols, I sincerely hope that this seminar will contribute much to removing technical obstacles to advance your efforts for ratification. And I would like to express that Japan will continue to work proactively to this end, by considering seriously to make contributions to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes (UNODC)'s technical assistance programs.

I would like to call on other developed countries to do the same.

Japan's efforts for capacity building assistance are not limited to the UN Conventions. In the "ASEAN-Japan Joint Declaration for Cooperation in the Fight against International Terrorism", 11 fields of cooperation for capacity building such as cooperation between the law-enforcement authorities, counter-terrorist financing, immigration control, and transport security are mentioned. Japan has already extended various forms of counter-terrorism assistance to Asia-Pacific countries and we intend to further strengthen cooperation.

8. (Conclusion)

In concluding my remarks, I would like to reiterate my welcome and especially, appreciate the participation of UNODC and United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFEI) and I hope that this seminar will prove fruitful and significant and contribute to further conclusion of the convention.

Thank you very much.


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