- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 29, 2001

NEW YORK As the United Nations geared up to join the fight against terrorism with a special General Assembly session on Monday, the Security Council yesterday lifted 5-year-old sanctions against Sudan, a country riven by decades of civil war and branded by the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The United States, which had previously blocked easing the largely symbolic sanctions, dropped its objections in recognition of Sudan's cooperation in the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism. Washington abstained from the vote, while the rest of the 14 council members supported the move, which lifts a ban on Sudanese diplomats to travel abroad.

"Sudan has recently apprehended extremists within that country whose activities may have contributed to international terrorism," U.S. representative James Cunningham told the council. "Sudan is also engaged in serious discussions with my government about ways to combat terrorism."

The sanctions were imposed in 1996 in connection with an attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

"We would expect the government of Sudan to demonstrate a full commitment to the fight against international terrorism by taking every possible step to expel terrorists and deny them safe haven," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. "They really do need to meet all the requirements … for getting off the terrorism list."

The Security Council is expected by Monday to pass a U.S.-sponsored binding resolution that obligates states to crack down on the financing and harboring of terrorist organizations.

Long before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, there were already a dozen separate anti-terrorism resolutions deposited with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Many of them have languished for 20 years without entering into force many countries have been unable to ratify international conventions against the taking of hostages and assaults on airliners.

In an effort to simplify the process for those nations genuinely willing to join international protocols, legal experts are drafting a 13th anti-terrorism convention that will combine the most important elements of the previous documents.

"The idea is to make it easier for governments" to ratify, said Narinder Singh, the legal expert at the Indian Mission, which is sponsoring the comprehensive convention. "We need to close the loopholes" between the treaties.

Diplomats, including U.S. officials, say that the United Nations has a role to play in the fight against terrorism as a uniquely large umbrella that allows governments to make formal speeches or establish informal contacts.

But many are skeptical about those claims. They question the value of international treaties that don't obligate those governments who haven't ratified them, and can hardly bind nonstate actors, such as terrorism cells. And they reject the organization's acceptance under that umbrella of nations that fail to meet basic human rights benchmarks.

"The United Nations can point to these treaties, but they have a dismal record, they are completely impotent against terrorism," said Fred Gedrick, senior policy analyst for the Virginia-based Freedom Alliance, a conservative group that watches for infringements of U.S. sovereignty and advocates freedom around the world.

"It's unbelievable that anyone would put them in the fight when they … have members who sponsor terrorism as a state activity," he said.

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