Terrorism vote

GIVEN the setting, it might have sounded like a resolution in favor of the obvious. But the antiterrorism resolution passed earlier this week by the United Nations General Assembly is important news -- and good news.

The General Assembly adopted unanimously a resolution that condemns all acts of terrorism as ``criminal.'' The UN has taken stands against terrorism before, but this is its most strongly worded and broadest ever.

The vote was especially encouraging in light of the way the UN has so often fallen disappointingly short of its great promise, degenerating into a forum for ideological harangues. It was frustration with this sort of politicization that last week led the United Kingdom to pull out of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. But on the antiterrorism resolution, even Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization were able to agree.

Sadly, what it has taken to galvanize the General Assembly to unanimity has been the unhappy fact that so many different nations have felt the sting of terrorism the past year. Even the Soviets endured the kidnapping of four diplomats and the murder of one of them.

The resolution will need to be translated into concrete measures against terrorism. All the same, it is a landmark.

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