Spain Speaks Out on 7/7: A Call for UN Action

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose rise to power after 3/11 sparked debate about whether Spaniards bowed to terrorists, has a Financial Times op-ed on the London bombings:

A Global Consensus Is Needed to Defeat Terrorism

Terrorism can only be defeated by a collective response on the part of the international community. In pursuing their criminal cause, terrorists do not hesitate to abuse the multiple possibilities afforded by today̢۪s world and its technologies to spread their ideology of death and to move quickly the information, people and objects they require to carry out their crimes. Terrorism has thus become a global threat that requires a global response.

We must begin by making an effort to comprehend the conditions that facilitate the spread of fanaticism and support for terror. We cannot ignore conflicts that have become entrenched or the enormous economic, political and social divides in many societies, which occasionally serve as false pretexts for terrorist violence. It is unrealistic to aspire to peace and stability in a sea of universal injustice.

The appropriate forum to consolidate the political consensus against terrorism has to be the United Nations. The organisation must be given the means — including a legal framework and the operational tools — to lead the international fight against terrorism, enabling it to be waged more effectively.

One wonders which United Nations has been on the Prime Minister’s watch. The UN that’s been concerned with terrorism since its League of Nations days has done nothing but work on “a legal framework.” It says so on its web site:

[T]he United Nations and regional inter-governmental organizations have dealt with terrorism from a legal and political perspective. Since 1963, the international community has elaborated 12 universal legal instruments related to the prevention and suppression of international terrorism.

Indeed, in 2003, it mounted a project on “strengthening the legal regime against terrorism.”

But, more broadly, the problem with the UN approach is that it’s fundamentally misguided: its terrorism unit is housed within the Office on Drugs and Crime. While terrorists are engaged in pretty much every kind of nefarious activity, I highly doubt that the world can defeat them with the exact same techniques as those used for organized crime, corruption, and money laundering.

It’d be one thing if the Prime Minister were calling on world leaders to rethink the mission of the UN. But that’s not what he’s doing. When he writes that “we must do away with ring-fenced judicial and policing systems that criminals continue to exploit for their ends,” it’s clear to me that he wants to perpetuate the status quo rather than change it. As such, his proposals appear woefully inadequate.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, , , , , ,
Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.


  1. Ol' BC says:

    United Nations action – now there’s an oxymoron.

  2. bill says:

    WOW, that was close, for a minute I thought he was going to propose the Bill Clinton strategy for terrorist fighting, ignore them and hope they go away. But bringing in the U.N., that’s a big change. Maybe we should hold a U.N. sponsored conference so we can find out what the terrorists want and appease them.

  3. herb says:

    Why should anyone take any words from the Spanish Prime Minister, He turned tail and run like a jack rabbit when he had the chance to really fight the terrorist. ( He must have a little French in him). And the UN. Perhaps he has an “oil for food” plan he would like to see implemented for the terrorist.

    Spain is just like the rest of Northern Europe. If there is not a buck in it for themselves, they are not interested.

  4. Don Surber says:

    Here is the global concensus on terrorism: It is evil and the sumbidges should be rounded up and shot and states that aid and abet terrorism should be overthrown

  5. Luis says:

    I wonder if this means that he finally condemns the state-terrorism supported by his political party. I suppose not.

    His hipocresy has made almost one million people to demonstrate in Madrid against his terrorism policy.

    I am starting to be ashamed of being spanish because of him.