JOHN HUMPHRYS: Sir Jeremy Greenstock it's
unrealistic isn't it to expect a body with one hundred and eighty nine
members to act effectively against terrorism, particularly given that some
of those countries themselves support terrorism.
SIR JEREMY GREENSTOCK: Yes, clearly we've got to get as
many people as possible on line on 17..1373. We..our job in the Counter
Terrorism Committee is to upgrade the legislation and the executive machinery
of every state in the UN who is willing but perhaps not so capable of dealing
with terrorist finance, a safe haven for terrorism and other actions against
terrorism. I've been listening to the film you were showing about the
definition and the background to 1373 but the Counter Terrorism Committee
is there not to define terrorism but to upgrade the capability of states
to deal with it when they find it.
HUMPHRYS: I take that point but
very difficult to wage war against something which is what this is about
after all, we want to kill off terrorism, very difficult to do that unless
we can define it. Let me ask you what your definition of terrorism is.
GREENSTOCK: It doesn't really matter what
my definition is but I would call it the indiscriminate use of violence,
particularly against civilians in order to make a particular political
point or to win a political argument and the General Assembly, the other
part of the United Nations from the Security Council is working on that
now. So the Security Council is in harness with the General Assembly to
deal with both sides of the question.
HUMPHRYS: Right, so on that definition
organisations such a Hamas or Hezbollah are clearly terrorist and that
means that countries like Syria and Iran that give them sucker and support
will be required to stop supporting them and must..must I emphasise bring
them to justice one way or the other.
GREENSTOCK: I think it is more likely John,
that we will home in on what is a terrorist act. I think David Hannay
was talking about this earlier in your programme. If Hamas sends in people
to kill indiscriminately then that's terrorism, then other people may have
views on what they are doing if they attack a unit of the Israeli army.
It's the terrorist act we must deal with and the indiscriminate use of
violence out of any particular military context that we have to deal with.
HUMPHRYS: And again on that basis,
quite clearly, Hamas has been guilty of terrorist acts. If you send a
suicide bomber into a pizza parlour and blow up women and children, who
are clearly innocent people non combative in every single sense of the
word, that is a terrorist action isn't it, without any doubt.
GREENSTOCK: Yes from time to time that
may be so......
HUMPHRYS: May be so....
GREENSTOCK: My committee is not going to
get into the business of judging who is a terrorist or whether something
is a terrorist act. My job is a much longer term one, to make sure that
every state is capable of suppressing terrorism as a network, as a scourge
on the world and to make sure that finance does not get through to terrorists.
HUMPHRYS: Yeah, but we've got
an enormous problem here though haven't we because if we can't define,
if we're not defining terrorism and we're saying, well all right, let's
take a particular act and look at that maybe, if you have a situation where
a particular country harbours a group of terrorists and does not regard
them as terrorists, therefore don't accept any sort of definition. I was
talking just this week to the Syrian Ambassador about that bombing of the
pizza parlour, he regarded that, not as an act of terrorism, but as something
that could be justified. Now, if we cannot even agree that something like
that obviously cannot be justified then the whole point of 1373 or anything
else the United Nations might do, is completely negated isn't it, they
have...if they are going to stop it happening, they have first to accept
that it is wrong, if they do not accept that it is wrong, clearly they
are not going to bother stop it happening.
GREENSTOCK: I think we need to get this
in proportion. What the committee is going to do is upgrade the capability
of states to deal with the massive amount of potential terrorism there
is out there. When it comes to some individual cases which are highly politically
sensitive or very contentious in a particular region, then the Security
Council as a whole will have to deal with that, or other aspects of international
law will have to deal with that. But now that...
HUMPHRYS: ...I'm sorry, I was just
going to follow up that point if I may, sorry to interrupt you there, but
what if they, the states themselves, do not want to deal with the perpetrators
of such actions?
GREENSTOCK: Then those particular cases
will become isolated from the general potential of terrorist cells to grow
and plan things like the eleventh of September. There are two different
categories of cases. The ability of something like Al-Qaeda, to grow and
plan and do something out of the blue, and the act of violence within a
particular political context, like the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, which
has to be dealt with directly by other means, and my committee is not going
to get into the business of the latter category of acts.
HUMPHRYS: So in other words, countries
like Syria and Iran, and various others on the list that the United States
produced at the beginning of this, seven countries, they don't have to
GREENSTOCK: No, that's not true. They will
have to pass laws to suppress the financing of terrorism, to deny safe
haven for terrorists. What you're talking about is the application of those
laws, and their law enforcement agencies in particular cases, and that
won't directly be for my Committee. It may come to the Security Council,
it may come to other negotiating machinery, but it won't come to my Committee.
HUMPHRYS: But you're surely not
saying, that it's fine and dandy if they pass a law, and then utterly ignore
the law. I mean they could pass a law next Thursday week and say, we don't
like terrorists and we won't help them, but then they can carry on precisely
the way they have been going for as long as they have been doing it, and
that's all right? I mean, doesn't that bring the United Nations into the
worst possible disrepute.
GREENSTOCK: No of course I'm not saying
it's fine and dandy. It's thoroughly reprehensible. But the machinery for
dealing with it will also have to take account of the very delicate political
context within which that is happening and deal with it more directly through
other Security Council action. But those cases will be isolated from the
growth of terrorist networks which can use indiscriminate violence to make
political points or to try and change the world in other areas and we are
narrowing the difficult cases down to something we'll have to deal with
HUMPHRYS: Well, deal with directly
how? I mean, if it is as you say, you acknowledge that it is reprehensible,
some people would look for a much more powerful word than that, but if
it is reprehensible, what sort of sanctions, any sanctions, are any sanctions
going to be taken against such countries, and by whom in this case?
GREENSTOCK: I don't think sanctions are
actually going to come into it from the Security Council, these cases are
HUMPHRYS: ...I mean sanctions in
the very broader sense, I mean, sorry, forgive me for not being more clear
about that, I mean sanctions in the very broader sense, I don't mean necessarily
sanctions as we understand them, but in the very broader sense, what sort
of action should be taken against such countries?
GREENSTOCK: Then the action that will have
to be taken will be in a political and sometimes a negotiating context
which will be absolutely particular to that context. We've had a lot of
violence on the West Bank and Gaza in recent days, and there was a Security
Council statement about that. But the business of stopping that violence
has to be negotiated between the Israelis and the Palestinians, probably
through the Americans and other direct negotiators who are on the ground
doing exactly that. The action under thirteen seventy-three will be much
broader, much longer term and much more geared to legislation, executive
action, the judging of performance of particular states who perhaps are
not so willing to put that legislation into action, and then coming back
to sanctions against those very few states if they are not prepared to
HUMPHRYS: So to that extent the
United Nations doesn't really, if I understand you correctly, have a role
in tackling terrorism. You talk about establishing this broad framework
which I understand, over a long period of time, and ultimately it might
help to isolate certain countries, but in the short to medium term, the
UN doesn't have a role, effectively?
GREENSTOCK: John, the UN is not a law enforcement
agency. It doesn't have armies, it doesn't have agencies to act against
terrorism. That has to be done by governments, by member states and they
act in particular circumstances. What the UN has done with thirteen-seventy-three
is to raise the whole standard of counter-terrorism action and we have
now got to make sure that governments enact that in a way which is much
more effective than before. That's the role of the UN.
HUMPHRYS: So the United Nations,
the United States, could look at those countries that failed to comply
with thirteen-seventy-three, and use the fact that they have not complied
as justification for itself, the American government taking action, military
action perhaps against them?
GREENSTOCK: No, not unless that action
is covered under the Charter, or by Security Council Resolution specifically
authorising that action. They have to be quite careful to take action within
international law, as they've done in Afghanistan under Article fifty-one
of the Charter on Self-Defence...
HUMPHRYS: ...which remains of course,
so therefore they could, sorry to rush you a little bit here, but Article
fifty-one stands clearly, so therefore they could take the America, a particular
country such as Syria's refusal to do what it ought to do under this particular
Resolution, thirteen-seventy-three, say they haven't complied, we will
take action against them using fifty-one, using Article fifty-one?
GREENSTOCK: No, because it would have to
be, I mean it's possible if the act of terrorism was about to take place
was clearly directed against the United States, that would be understandable.
But if they were trying to clean up a terrorist cell somewhere else, and
that action about to happen wasn't going to happen against the United States,
they couldn't take action without specific Security Council authorisation.
HUMPHRYS: Sir Jeremy Greenstock,
thanks very much indeed.