UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Leaders of the major powers are issuing a formal appeal to world governments on Wednesday to adopt laws prohibiting the incitement of terrorist acts.
U.S. President George W. Bush, Chinese President Hu Jintao. Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin are among those due to participate in a rare high-level meeting of the 15-nation U.N. Security Council at which a resolution on the incitement of terrorism is to be adopted.
The meeting coincides with a U.N. gathering in New York of some 150 world leaders to address the challenges of global multilateral action in the 21st century.
The global initiative on terrorism was proposed by Blair, who is pursuing a similar crackdown in Britain following bombings that killed 52 people in London in July.
Saying the attacks had altered the British landscape, Blair on August 5 put forward plans to ban two Islamist groups and empower authorities to expel or exclude foreign nationals who incited violence or glorified terrorism.
British officials say their draft resolution seeks to strike a balance between the need to prevent terrorist acts and protect human rights including the right to freedom of expression.
But New York-based Human Rights Watch said the resolution, which has eight co-sponsors, would give governments a pretext to suppress peaceful expression.
The proposed resolution offers no definition of what constitutes "incitement to commit" terrorist acts and urges governments not only to outlaw such actions but also to "prevent such conduct."
"Those who incite others to commit terrorism must be prosecuted," said Kenneth Roth, the Human Rights Watch executive director.
"But the resolution”s sponsors have made it easy for abusive governments to invoke the resolution to target peaceful political opponents, impose censorship and close mosques, churches and schools," Roth said.
The proposed resolution states that any laws prompted by the Security Council measure must comply with international laws protecting human rights and refugees.
It also urges governments to encourage understanding and dialogue among different religious and cultural groups in order to "prevent the indiscriminate targeting" of any religion or culture.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is chairing the meeting as her country holds the council”s rotating presidency for September. Heads of state or government from Algeria, Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Denmark, Greece, Romania, and Tanzania are also expected to attend the session.