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No hostages

December 20, 1985

VERNON Walters, the new American delegate to the United Nations, could not have said it any better: The Security Council's resolution this week which condemns all acts of hostage taking and abduction ``is a historic step, almost without precedent in the entire 40 years of the United Nations,'' Mr. Walters said. The US-initiated resolution, which is binding on all members of the United Nations, won the unanimous endorsement of all 15 members of the Security Council. The vote underscores widening worldwide recognition -- including that of the Soviet Union, which saw several of its own diplomats kidnapped in Lebanon recently, one of them murdered -- that terrorism now threatens all nations.

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Especially encouraging is that the Security Council vote is the second key action against terrorism taken by the United Nations in two weeks.

Last week the General Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution condemning all acts of terrorism as ``criminal.''

The two resolutions send a clear message to revolutionaries and other disaffected groups:

There are recognized standards of conduct regarding revolutionary actions, just as there are recognized standards of conduct governing belligerents in times of warfare pertaining to civilians, prisoners of war, and other innocent parties.

Hostage taking, by itself, is not only reprehensible. Equally important, it is an unacceptable form of protest or tactic for revolutionary change.