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Annan, Giuliani address U.N. General Assembly

NEW YORK (CNN) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on Monday addressed the U.N. General Assembly, which is beginning a weeklong debate on measures to fight world terrorism.

Giuliani was the first New York mayor in nearly 50 years to address the United Nations, delivering a passionate speech Monday that strongly urged member nations to act and act together to end the global threat of terrorism. New York and Washington were attacked September 11. The New York attack destroyed the city's World Trade Center towers.

"This massive attack was intended to break our spirit," Giuliani told the audience in the U.N. General Assembly Hall. "It has not done that. It has made us stronger, more determined, and more resolved."

Giuliani urged the United Nations to act in unison against terrorism, saying member states must hold accountable any country that supports or condones it. Any nation that remains neutral in fighting terrorism, Giuliani said, must be isolated.

"Now is the time, in the words of your charter, the United Nations charter, to unite our strength," the mayor said. "This is not a time for further study or vague directives."

The theme of unity created by diversity ran throughout the mayor's address. He drew on the setting of the United Nations, New York, and the United States, saying all are made stronger because of shared differences.

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Giuliani's emotional words affirmed the strength many have praised since the attacks nearly three weeks ago.

"The evidence of terrorism's brutality and inhumanity, of its contempt for life and its contempt for peace, is lying beneath the rubble of the World Trade Center less than two miles from where we meet today," he said. "Look at that destruction, that massive, senseless, cruel loss of human life, and then I ask you to look in your own hearts and recognize that there is no room for neutrality on the issue of terrorism."

Terrorists oppose the rule of law and respect for human life, he said, leaving no room for sympathy. "We're right and they're wrong," the mayor said, in his direct style.

Love and action

Giuliani said it's clear that freedom and democracy threatens terrorists and their power. But those reasons provide no justification for terrorist attacks, he said.

"Let those who say we must understand the reasons for terrorism come with me to the thousands of funerals we're having in New York City -- thousands -- and explain those insane, maniacal reasons to the children who will grow up without fathers and mothers, and to the parents who have had their children ripped from them for no reason at all."

While love and peaceful intentions will eventually win over hate, Giuliani said, it must be supplemented with action. "Good intentions alone are not enough to conquer evil," he said. "It is action alone that counts."

The mayor called on nations to be "decisive" in eradicating terrorism and the threat it poses to basic human rights, including the right to live without fear.

"Surrounded by our friends of every faith, we know this is not a clash of civilizations," Giuliani said. "It's a clash between murderers and humanity. It's a matter of justice leading to peace."

In his introduction, Secretary-General Kofi Annan had noted Giuliani was not the first mayor to be "frustrated" by the activities of the United Nations. "No healthy partnership is without strains, but today we are truly united," he said, then joked that some in the audience probably even share the mayor's famed love of the opera and the Yankees.

Annan thanked Giuliani, his host. "We have also drawn strength from your leadership, your resilience, your commitment to the tolerance and diversity that have made New York such a magnet and such an outstanding world capital. Thank you for helping all of us in this city to at least begin to recover from this crisis."

The last mayor to address the United Nations was Vincent Impelliteri in 1952, who spoke to the first plenary session of the General Assembly. William O'Dwyer spoke in 1949 during a cornerstone ceremony for the headquarters building on Manhattan's East Side.In a speech in advance of debate, Giuliani called the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington "a direct assault on the founding principles of the U.N. itself."

'United in our determination'

Annan said the U.N. is "united in our determination to root out terrorism."

He urged all U.N. members to sign, ratify, and implement the 12 U.N. protocols and conventions on international terrorism as soon as possible.

"Two of these conventions, in particular, can strengthen the fight against terrorism," he said.

One of those is the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, adopted in May.

Another is the 1999 Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, which so far has 44 signatories and four ratifications.

"It requires 18 additional ratifications to enter into force, and I hope it will now be seen as a point of honor for member states to sign and ratify this vital convention as soon as possible," Annan said. "While no one imagines that these conventions -- even when implemented -- will end terrorism on their own, they are part of the legal framework needed for this effort."

Urges agreement

Annan said it will also be imperative to reach agreement on a comprehensive convention on world terrorism, despite disagreements which have prevented agreement.

"Some of the most difficult issues relate to the definition of terrorism. I understand and accept the need for legal precision. But let me say frankly that there is also a need for moral clarity. There can be no acceptance of those who would seek to justify the deliberate taking of innocent civilian life, regardless of cause or grievance. If there is one universal principle that all peoples can agree on, surely it is this."

Annan said that during armed conflict, killing innocent civilians is immoral and illegal.

The greatest threat, Annan said, comes from non-state groups or individuals using nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, which could be launched without sophisticated techniques and systems. Because of this, Annan said, "we must now strengthen the global norm against the use or proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

According to a U.N. spokesman, some 145 countries have elected to take part in the discussions, which are expected to last through Friday.


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