New Zealand Humanist 152 -
December 2001

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The United Nations and the war in Afghanistan


The United Nations released the following press statements regarding the action taken by the United States and Britain in Afghanistan. After debate the members of the United Nations through the General Assembly and the Security Council agreed that the United States and the other nations involved were entitled to take action under the United Nations Charter, Chapter 7, Article 51. The action taken was directed against the Taliban, an invading army of students and the de facto government of a part of Afghanistan, and the international terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda that had declared war on the USA and had been nurtured by the Taliban in a symbiotic relationship since 1996. Before this action the Taliban had been in breach of a number of United Nations Security Council resolutions and United Nations sanctions were in place against them. The government of Afghanistan, recognised by the United Nations and all but three nations, had long sought United Nations assistance to repel the Taliban invaders and the action taken was to provide military assistance to this government while the United Nations Security Council took action to form a new fully representative, multi?ethnic and broad?based Afghan Government.

United Nations Press Releases.

GA/SM/274 AFG/151 8 October 2001



Following is the text of the statement by the President of the General Assembly, Han Seung-Soo (Republic of Korea), following the Assembly debate on international terrorism:

The General Assembly of the United Nations, in its resolution 56/1 adopted immediately after the terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001, condemned those acts of terrorism in the strongest terms and called for international cooperation to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers, and sponsors of the outrages. During the General Assembly debate on "Measures to eliminate international terrorism", held last week with an unprecedented number of Member States participating, we voiced our unequivocal view that international terrorism constitutes a threat to international peace and security, as well as a crime against humanity.

The Security Council also adopted resolutions on this issue, which condemned the terrorist attacks as a threat to international peace and security, while reaffirming the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence as recognized by the Charter of the United Nations. I understand that the current military action now being undertaken is predicated on these norms.

In my concluding statement to the General Assembly last week, I reiterated that international terrorism is one of the most formidable challenges to the international community in the twenty-first century. I believe now is the time for the whole world to unite in the fight against terrorism and to pool our wisdom and resources to eradicate this dire threat.

At the same time, I urge Member States to extend or continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. The fight against terrorism should not be directed against any ethnic or religious group, nor against the Afghan people who are suffering from the actions of the terrorist elements in their country that are beyond their control.

SG/ SM/ 7985 AFG/149 8 October 2001


Following is the text of a statement made today by Secretary ? General Kofi Annan on military strikes in Afghanistan:

Immediately after the 11 September attacks on the United States, the Security Council expressed its determination to combat, by all means, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts. The Council also reaffirmed the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. The States concerned have set their current military action in Afghanistan in that context.

To defeat terrorism, we need a sustained effort and a broad strategy to unite all nations, and address all aspects of the scourge we face. The cause must be pursued by all the States of the world, working together and using many different means ? including political, legal, diplomatic and financial means.

The people of Afghanistan, who cannot be held responsible for the acts of the Taliban regime, are now in desperate need of aid. The United Nations has long played a vital role in providing humanitarian assistance to them, and it is my hope that we will be able to step up our humanitarian work as soon as possible.

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Last Updated: 2012-02-04
NZ Humanist 152, December 2001