Cloudy future for committee on counter terrorism

Jamie DeLoma

President Bush’s focus on a possible attack on Iraq has overshadowed a relatively new and controversial United Nations committee.
An effort has been magnified since the increase of terrorist attacks on international targets, leaving the world questioning whether a permanent counterterrorism agency should be formed while others are asking if the United Nations is fit for such a role.
Questions have been surfacing since President Bush’s Sept. 12 speech about whether the United Nations is weakening to the point where clear lines could be drawn to the failed League of Nations. Many countries are asking whether or not the United Nations can indeed handle anything other than “soft” international issues such as poverty, health issues and environmental degradation.
The United Nations started a Counterterrorism Committee (CTC) following the terrorist attacks on the United States, but it is still too soon to tell how effective it has been.
In its first year of work, the CTC has played an advisory role to countries interested in fighting terrorism and regulating financial flows or improving border control.
Although the United States was skeptical of the CTC a year ago, it is now offering high marks to the committee. Nevertheless, the CTC has many weak points.
For instance, it has no judgmental or sanctioning roles for countries lagging in antiterrorism measures. Many believe that a permanent UN counterterrorism agency could play an expended role with stiffer penalties.
Several nations have said that the United Nations can have a role but cannot do everything that a strong nation like the United States can do.
Others, however, argue that it would be much easier to cooperate with the United Nations than appear to surrender to the United States.
The outcome of this matter could affect the future and regularity of terrorist attacks around the world, but a decision is not expected to be made in the near future regarding the creation of a permanent counterterrorism committee in the United Nations.