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Message to the Senate Transmitting the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings

September 08, 1999

To the Senate of the United States:

With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, I transmit herewith the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 15, 1997, and signed on behalf of the United States of America on January 12, 1998. The report of the Department of State with respect to the Convention is also transmitted for the information of the Senate.

In recent years, we have witnessed an unprecedented and intolerable increase in acts of terrorism involving bombings in public places in various parts of the world. The United States initiated the negotiations of this convention in the aftermath of the June 1996 bombing attack on U.S. military personnel in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in which 17 U.S. Air Force personnel were killed as the result of a truck bombing. That attack followed other terrorist attacks including poison gas attacks in Tokyo's subways; bombing attacks by HAMAS in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; and a bombing attack by the IRA in Manchester, England. Last year's terrorist attacks upon United States embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam are recent examples of such bombings, and no country or region is exempt from the human tragedy and immense costs that result from such criminal acts. Although the penal codes of most states contain provisions proscribing these kinds of attacks, this Convention provides, for the first time, an international framework for cooperation among states directed toward prevention of such incidents and ensuing punishment of offenders, wherever found.

In essence, the Convention imposes binding legal obligations upon States Parties either to submit for prosecution or to extradite any person within their jurisdiction who commits an offense as defined in Article 2, attempts to commit such an act, participates as an accomplice, organizes or directs others to commit such an offense, or in any other way contributes to the commission of an offense by a group of persons acting with a common purpose. A State Party is subject to these obligations without regard to the place where the alleged act covered by Article 2 took place.

Article 2 of the Convention declares that any person commits an offense within the meaning of the Convention if that person unlawfully and intentionally delivers, places, discharges or detonates an explosive or other lethal device in, into or against a place of public use, a state or government facility, a public transportation system, or an infrastructure facility, with the intent (a) to cause death or serious bodily injury or (b) cause extensive destruction of such a place, facility or system, where such destruction results in or is likely to result in major economic loss. States Parties to the Convention will also be obligated to provide one another legal assistance in investigations or criminal or extradition proceedings brought in respect of the offenses set forth in Article 2.

The recommended legislation necessary to implement the Convention will be submitted to the Congress separately.

This Convention is a vitally important new element in the campaign against the scourge of international terrorism. I hope that all states will become Parties to this Convention, and that it will be applied universally. I recommend, therefore, that the Senate give early and favorable consideration to this Convention, subject to the understandings and reservation that are described in the accompanying State Department report.


The White House,

September 8, 1999.

William J. Clinton, Message to the Senate Transmitting the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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