While it's in the midst of what it calls a "war against terrorism", the United States has sought to frustrate international attempts to crack down on international terrorism.
There are 12 existing United Nations conventions on international terrorism, dealing with everything from aircraft hijackings, violence against "internationally protected persons", terrorist financing, nuclear material, the taking of hostages to attacks on ships or sea platforms.
The US has not ratified any of these treaties. It has only deigned to become a signatory to them, which indicates support while denying them any legal authority.
The US is also dragging its feet in UN negotiations on a proposal by the Non-Aligned Movement of Third World countries for an international conference on terrorism to kick off talks on a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
Among the sticking points are the distinction between terrorism and legitimate freedom struggles and the issue of "state terrorism". Some Middle Eastern countries have argued that Israeli, British and US acts of violence in the Middle East are clearly "state terrorism" and should be recognised as such in the new convention.
Cuba, meanwhile, has accused the US of organising and financing groups of mercenaries to carry out "terrorist acts" against the revolutionary island nation.
The US is opposed to any convention which addresses such issues — and even to the holding of any conference which discusses them.
BY SEAN HEALY