India, close on the heels of getting Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar blacklisted, has given a clarion call at the UN for strengthening efforts to adopt the long-pending global convention on international terrorism amidst increasing terror attacks on places of worship across the globe.
India proposed a draft document on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) at the UN in 1986 but it has not been implemented as there is no unanimity on the definition of terrorism among the member states.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, speaking at a solemn commemorative event Friday for victims of the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, said the early adoption of the global framework to combat terrorism will be a "tribute" to those killed and injured in the "barbaric and cowardly" terror attacks in the island nation last month.
"The barbaric and cowardly attacks on places of worship and recreation, that took lives of hundreds of innocent people of different nationalities, is a reminder that terrorism aims not only to disrupt livelihoods, destroy lives and traumatise people, but also rupture societies, destabilise states and undermine the fabric of human beliefs by creating panic for the sake of panic," he said.
Akbaruddin highlighted the efforts by Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Amrith Rohan Perera over the last two decades towards achieving an outcome on the CCIT.
"Perhaps, as a tribute to the victims in his country, we can all try and strengthen efforts to achieve that objective of a putting in place a global legal framework to counter a global scourge," he said at the event co-organised by the President of the General Assembly and the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN.
India's clarion call to adopt the CCIT came just a day after it won a massive victory in the fight against terrorism with the designation of Azhar as a global terrorist under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council.
The blacklisting of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief on Wednesday came 10 years after India first moved a proposal in the UN body to sanction him.
Perera underscored the need for the international community to demonstrate a "political will" to adopt the legal framework to combat international terrorism, saying "too much blood" has been spilled due to terrorism and nations can no longer remain deadlocked over the issue.
"I would be failing in my duty as Chair of the Working Group on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism if I do not state now that the time has come for the international community to go beyond words and to demonstrate political will and commitment in taking the last remaining step to conclude the CCIT and complete the sectoral multilateral treaty regime to address the global phenomenon of terrorism," Perera said.
"Too much blood has spilt for us to remain deadlocked on this issue. The international community must send out a strong signal of its collective will to combat terrorism and contribute to the effective implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy," the Sri Lankan envoy said.
Akbaruddin stressed that the challenges posed by the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka reflect threats to the common heritage of mankind that nations strive to build at the UN.
"Terrorists, globally, seek to lay the foundations of edifices built on violence, even as we strive here to promote the culture of peace. They are antithetical to all that we promote here. Terrorism fundamentally stands for the denial of all that we stand for here at the UN - peace, development, security and human rights," he said.
UN leadership and members expressed their condolences to Sri Lanka for the attacks that killed over 250 people and injured close to 500. Nationals from Australia, Bangladesh, China, Denmark, India, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and the US were among those who lost their lives or were affected by the attacks.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the commemorative meeting that "tragically", again and again, the world is seeing places of worship become "killing grounds and houses of horror".
"Churches, mosques, synagogues and the religious sites of many faiths are being targeted for murder, arson, vandalism and desecration. We must reject this form of violence," she said, adding that "as a Muslim, I know my faith preaches peace and tolerance".
Mohammed said the world is experiencing a dangerous rise in intolerance, xenophobia and racism, voicing concern that today such hatred spreads easily and swiftly on the Internet.
President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly Mara Fernanda Espinosa said the attacks, targeting worshippers, families, workers and holidaymakers, ignited fear among communities in Sri Lanka a country still grappling with the deep wounds inflicted by three decades of civil war.
"Against this backdrop, I was deeply moved by the images of Sri Lankans Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Sinhalese, Tamil and others donating blood to treat survivors. Mosques and temples have opened their doors to Christian services. That is an inspiring expression of courage, resilience and unity," Espinosa said.
On March 15, a self-styled white supremacist killed 50 people and injured as many others in two Christchurch mosques, the deadliest mass shootings in modern New Zealand history.