His Excellency Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al-Thani First Deputy Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Transnational Terrorism Conference
London 9-10 November 2006
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to start by expressing my gratitude to the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, and to its director, Rear Admiral Richard Cobbold, for inviting me to address you on a number of issues concerning international cooperation to counter the threat of terrorism.
This issue has become a priority in the international arena, and framing the right approach to it requires that we take a number of varied, yet interconnected, perspectives. In my opinion, this is the best way of subjecting this issue to the objective analysis and examination it deserves.
Qatar, as you aware, is currently a member of the UN Security Council. Our actions in that capacity are based on the fact that we are an Arab country on the Council in line with our international commitments and the principles of our foreign policy. We, in Qatar, insist on the need to adhere to international peaceful coexistence and cooperation in all economic, social, cultural and humanitarian issues, and to act in these areas on the basis of mutual respect, common interest, and the rule of international law. We focus on the values of tolerance, justice and openness; on interaction between peoples, cultures and civilizations, with everyone enjoying their due respect and right to live in freedom and dignity in their own homelands. We also believe in the importance of respect for human rights and non-discrimination between individuals on the basis of race, sex, colour or religion. We strongly reiterate the importance of settling disputes peacefully in accordance with international law, foreswearing violence and all other means of pressure and coercion, and realising the principles of justice and equity. This is why we constantly call for the strengthening of the position and role of the United Nations in international relations as the only global forum whose charter embodies the international law that regulates state behaviour. In fact, all these principles represent the common objectives for which the UN Charter was established.
And it is on the basis of these principles that the State of Qatar carries out its duties as a member of the Security Council, which are in essence to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security. Naturally, we are aware that we are a small country contributing to these tasks alongside the permanent members, including the superpower. This fact, however, does not prevent us from expressing our convictions in the cause of achieving balanced solutions within the constraints of available means and possible outcomes.
With regards to the issue of terrorism, the state of Qatar has not hesitated in declaring the rejection of violence and extremism and the condemnation of all forms of terrorism regardless of its causes or motives, and has always called for cooperation in eradicating it. Within this framework, it seems to me that if we want to base international cooperation to defeat terrorism on effective principles, then we must all pay attention to a series of interconnecting issues, including the following:
- Extremism, violence and terrorism are not born in a void. They stem from the sources of the frustration that drives them.
Joint international effort to fight extremism, violence and terrorism must, therefore, be based on the rules of international legitimacy and the principles of justice and equity, especially when resolving the armed conflicts and crises that bedevil the world today, in particular the Middle East region.
- We must examine the causes of frustration which are creating an environment conducive to terrorism, and we must confront terrorist acts with preventative and remedial policies and measures, which may not necessarily be purely military.
- The phenomena of terrorism and extremism in today?s world represent an expression of political attitudes which bare no relation to religion and must be dealt with accordingly if we are to tackle them successfully. As far as we are concerned, we believe it is our duty to definitively reject any linkage between the historical phenomena of terrorism and extremism, on the one hand, and Islam as a religion, culture, heritage and civilization, on the other. I say this for the following reasons.
1. The essence of Islam is well known and requires no commendation. Islam?s contribution to all aspects of human civilisation is, according to the prevailing view in Western and international scholarly circles, beyond debate.
2. Save for matters outside the essential core beliefs of the Muslim faith, Islam has never at any time over the past millennium been of one hue. Like all other nations, the Muslim nation has witnessed wars. However, this had no adverse impact on mutual enrichment and exchange, cross fertilization and enlightenment.
3. The Muslim world is under attack today for the stance adopted by some groups of people for their political ends, not for religious or cultural reasons. Events of our time have revealed the deeply imbalanced nature of the world-view adopted by some Islamic groups who are seeking a confrontation with the rest of the world. They stand in isolation from the world, refusing to integrate into our common human culture, because of an intellectual crisis brought about by their inability to acquire proper appreciation of a different other or to formulate the correct religious approach to dealing with that other.
4. We must not overlook the fact that underdevelopment also plays its part. As much as it is our duty to overcome backwardness and take the path of development towards modernity and advancement, it is also the duty of the other side to reiterate and promote the ideals of tolerance, sharing and dialogue between civilizations and religions, instead of adopting the theories of clashes or the attitudes of fanaticism, isolation, and arrogance. We must also distance ourselves from any statements that inflame religious sensibilities and provide fertile ground which extremists exploit to promote the policies and methods of violence.
5. Furthermore, we must remember that acts of violence have not only affected Western countries. Arab and Muslim countries have also been impacted. This shows that the target of terrorism is much wider than some people believe.
- Among the main tools of confronting terrorism is the serious and sincere adoption and implementation of reform policies and the building of democracy. These efforts should be based on rational and balanced education which does not sacrifice society's spiritual and social values. Another main tool is the achievement of development through the resolution of all the economic, social and environmental problems which pose a considerable threat to the whole world.
International anti-terrorism cooperation must not overlook the important factors I have mentioned. We may do well to constantly remind ourselves that the world in which we live is heterogeneous by its very nature. It is a world of wealth and poverty, strength and weakness, old and modern, advanced and backward. And, in the middle of it, we are all motivated by our own ambitions and our desire for more and more of whatever serves our interests. However, we must never forget that guaranteeing our common good requires a contribution by everyone based on balancing both rights and responsibilities. In other words, on the basis of the rule of law, not the rule of might. The rule of law will deliver a win-win situation for us all; the rule of might will result in nothing but certain loss, even to the party that succeeds in imposing its will on everyone else.