The UN Hostages Convention: Negotiations and Adoption

  • Bernhard Blumenau


The United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) had decided to set up a committee to draft a text for the Hostages Convention. An important hurdle had been overcome, and the negotiations could now turn to more technical questions of how to phrase the convention text and its main stipulations. Yet many questions on the scope of the treaty had not yet been answered. What exactly would the convention entail? Even though the Germans wanted a airtight convention, it was likely that compromise would be needed and exceptions might be made. Would there be enough common ground among the countries for a common denominator? Would Bonn be willing to accept the compromises, or would the convention end up being hijacked by the Third World, much like the Ad Hoc Committee on international terrorism in 1972? Would there be a broad enough majority for the final text to be adopted? Would the German initiative be successful in the end, or would it turn out to be counterproductive for Germany’s quest for prestige? These are only a fraction of the questions that warranted answers in early 1977, but these open issues show that despite the euphoria in the German mission to the UN and at the Auswärtiges Amt (AA), the problems did not end with the adoption of the resolution. Rather, they had only just begun.


German Democratic Republic Geneva Convention Additional Protocol International Terrorism National Liberation 
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  1. 33.
    Moreover, Waldheim was Austrian, and his country had its own problems with terrorism. See, for instance, Thomas Riegler, Im Fadenkreuz. Æsterreich und der Nahostterrorismus 1973 bis 1985, (ed.) Oliver Rathkolb, Zeitgeschichte im Kontext (Vienna: V&R Unipress, Vienna University Press, 2011).Google Scholar
  2. 107.
    Drahtbericht Botschaft Algier an das AA, 06.07.1976, ZA 113986, PA; Hans-Jürgen Wischnewski, Mir Leidenschaft und Augenmaß: in Mogadischu und anderswo. Politische Memoiren (Munich: Goldmann, 1991), 208.Google Scholar
  3. 151.
    Memo Ref. 202: Deutsch-französische Konsultationen der Politischen Direktoren am 25. Oktober 1976 in Paris, 29.10.1976, B83 1236, PA. For more information on Yasser Arafat’s PLO moving away from violence, see P. T. Paul Chamberlin, Global Offensive. The United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Making of the Post-Cold War Order, Oxford Studies in International History (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 192.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Bernhard Blumenau 2014

Authors and Affiliations

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

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