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Human Rights Panel Provides International Perspective on Roots of Terrorism

Columbia's Human Rights Program hosted a forum on the international perspectives on the Sept. 11 tragedies. The participants included Azza Karam, director of the Women's Program at the World Conference on Religion and Peace; Purnaka L. de Silva, head, Leadership Programmes at the United Nations University, and Randy Rydell, Senior Political Affairs Officer, Office of the Under-Secretary General, Department for Disarmament Affairs at the United Nations.

Azza Karam

Stating that there are varying definitions of terrorism and opinions on the causes of terrorism, Azza Karam explained how religion has been used and will continue to be used for political ends. She questioned whether the war between the Palestinians and Israelis is a religious or political conflict.

Real (23:44)Video
Purnaka De Silva

Purnaka de Silva discussed how Sept. 11 was the result of a failure of U.S. policymakers to understand and cope with the realities of the post-Cold War era. De Silva said that the U.S. has not dismantled a costly and largely ineffectual military structure that dates back to the Cold War. He cited as examples the singling out Afghanistan when the terrorists of 9/11 did not come from a single country and the primacy that is placed on expensive technology rather than investing adequately on the "human capabilities of national security," concluding that serious consideration has not been given to the dangers of new technologies of warfare such as biological weapons.

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Randy Rydell

Randy Rydell explored the role of armsТtheir build up, their improvement, their stockpiling"Сs a contributing factor in the nature of the conflicts that follow. Focusing on weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, Rydell insisted that they remain a most serious problem and that reducing and controlling them would help "eliminate the worst threats of terrorism." Although many of the provisions in the UN charter do not address nuclear disarmament, Rydell continued, the Department of Disarmament seeks to increase the success of the global effort to eliminate nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and to eliminate the excess stocks of conventional weapons in areas recovering from civil wars.

Real (12:04)Video

Published: Dec. 06, 2001
Last modified:Sep 18, 2002