• Bernhard Blumenau


On Monday, 17 December 1979, the United Nations’ (UN) General Assembly (GA) unanimously adopted Resolution 34/146. Thus began the procedures whereby states could sign the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages (hereafter ‘Hostages Convention’), which had been negotiated at the United Nations for the past three years. At the same time as the resolution was adopted and the signatures were made, 52 US diplomats were being held hostage at the American embassy in Tehran, which highlighted the particular and contemporary importance of the convention. A West German initiative to fight hostage-taking, a project that had seen many ups and downs (probably more downs than ups), had successfully been adopted by the international community. A few days later, an elated West German ambassador to the UN, Rüdiger von Wechmar, would put his signature under the convention. It was a project that had been sceptically viewed by the majority of states ever since the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) introduced it to the UN in September 1976. Dealing with terrorism — hostage-taking being intimately linked to that practice — the critics had argued, would be too complicated for it ever to be possible to find the necessary majority of states to agree upon it. And indeed, prospects had been poor.


Foreign Policy United Nations German Democratic Republic Safe Haven International Terrorism 
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Copyright information

© Bernhard Blumenau 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernhard Blumenau
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate Institute of International and Development StudiesGenevaSwitzerland

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